Monday, March 5, 2012

Cycling through my goodbye to Bradford

I know there are certain steps that we cycle through when grieving the life of a friend or family member. I'm not certain of them and I'm not going to look them up. I just need, for my own sake, to catalogue how I'm feeling. I lost someone I counted as a dear friend this week, Bradford. I cycle through a series of thoughts and emotions, all of which are just awful.

Mad at 1) Bradford, 2) Myself, 3) The System: I get so mad at Bradford. I want to text you and get your quirky response back. Plan a reunion meeting in Salt Lake or Nantucket. Convince you and the kids to come and visit us here in Maine. To know how you're doing. It's at this moment that I realize I'm being a complete dick. "How can you get mad at someone who DIED?! You are just the worst kind of person," I tell myself. Then I get mad at myself. For being mad at Bradford. For not being a better friend when I had the chance. For not somehow preventing it. I then reason with myself enough that I realize I shouldn't be mad at myself either. I didn't cause his death and if I'd known it was coming I would have done anything I could. This finally leads me to blame the system. Death sucks. Life sucks. This is just all one big pile of shit and the more people try and make sense of it the more it just sinks into a big confusing pile of black gross death. (Please don't worry, I only stay in this stage for a few moments.) This leads to my second stage.

Complete and utter confusion: What the hell good does it do for me to hate the system? Hating the system doesn't bring anyone back. Hating the system doesn't explain the system. So then I just get confused. What do you mean he's just NOT HERE anymore? I get the body isn't working, but what happened to the personality? I want to believe, because him and his wife are now in the same physical state, that their personalities are in the same state too. I hope that they can be together, like they belong. But I don't KNOW where Bradford and Heather are, and it starts to make me sad...

Terrifying sinking sadness: This is where I cry. My heart aches when I think about Bradford's last moments. That they were alone and sad. I think about his wife, Heather, and him. That the world is now a much darker place without them in it. They had a kind of love that people write books about. No one that knew them would deny that the two were an absolute match and they adored each other. When Bradford lost Heather to cancer (which she fought for years), I think part of Bradford died then too. One of the last times I saw Bradford was at his wife's side. He had quit work to take care of her full time. Seeing him lean over her making sure she was comfortable was one of the most touching scenes of my life. But Bradford was not the same. His pain oozed from him, although he always had a smile and tried spreading it to others.

I'm sad Heather died so young. I'm sad Bradford died so young. But the two things I mourn the most are the loss of their relationship and the kids. Heather completed him and I assume it was the other way around too (I didn't know Heather quite as well). It is just a really tragic end to what was a beautiful story involving truly exceptional people. I ache wishing they'd been dealt a better hand. I feel bad for the kids so much it hurts. They will forever hear of the truly amazing human beings they had for parents, but never get to know them. Bradford and Heather lit up the world around them and anyone that knows the kids can tell they got their parents' fire.

There is no acceptance: After the terrifying sinking sadness has run its course, and I've cried, I go right back to anger. I don't know how many mourning steps there are (I think it's five), but I understand the last is acceptance. I think "acceptance" is just realizing that that I'm going to feel like this from now on. Slowly the cycles will come less intensely, and then fewer and farther between. Life goes on and much of it will be happy, but I think a little piece of me will always be pissed Bradford's death happened and that's it's irreversible. I will always be confused that I can't call him up the next time I'm in Utah and hang out. I will always be sad when I think about the lost love of Heather and Bradford and sad that the kids grow up without them. Acceptance does not feel good. I love you Bradford and I refuse to "accept" that all of this is ok or normal. I will always hate that you and Heather left. That's the best I can come to acceptance.

Me, Ren, Bradford, and Cami before heading to the SLC Pride Parade 2010

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