By: Gerri Graves

Word on the Street Issue 42, April 2024

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Rebirth. The land comes alive again. Buds form on branch. Hibernating animals and insects wake from their slumber. Flowers, shrouded in darkness l, jut forth their green.  Preparing the way for their color parade. Birds, squirrels, ducks and geese take their procreation cue from the warming sun. Mother Earth performs her magic once more…..and we are still alive to witness it. Both fill me with gratitude.

It’s been a very grey winter this season. My disposition aligns with my surroundings…..and so, it’s been a hard winter for this ol girl. Lots of cheetos and Chinese dramas…..my go-to when my mind plagues me with intrusive thoughts. Lol

This ‘purging my trauma closet’ journey had to be done, but I can’t say it’s been easy.

Little secret……I always thought folk discussing their trauma, was rather trashy. (Yes, I was part of the problem. Even this highly empathetic person could be judgy.) It’s why I kept all of it bottled up inside. Swearing those in the know,  to secrecy. Ashamed of all the tragic events in my life. Even lying, at times, to cover the worst of it. Creating fictions of a happy past, to avoid intrusive questions and judgemental inquiries.

The best thing about finally opening up? No one has secrets to wound me with. I mean, we all know the ones that deeply hurt us, are the ones we let in. The people we place importance on. The ones we love. Only because, they are the keeper of our most intimate hurts.

Within candid clarity, the weapon they wield has been made redundant. I’ve disarmed them. You can’t hurt me with a past that I’ve reconciled. I’ve left the imagined perfect life, usually relegated to social media, in my rearview.

It’s also caused a chain reaction in other branches of my social interactions. I’ve learned to say ‘no’. I don’t tolerate those that hurt me any longer. I’ve learned the importance of my time and friendship. I’ve learned to be discriminatory……as in, I’m picky about who I interact with. Discretion has gone to the wayside- I do not seek or need approval. I’ve coined a term and use it often, “You have 2 choices: 1-I can be in your life. 2- I can be out of your life. There is no third choice where you get to tell me how to live my life.”

It’s all been a sort of rebirth, yeah?

With the death of Paul recently…..and the death of Brain last year, I’ve been reminiscing over all those morning conversations. I owed them so much appreciation and I worry……..worry that I never expressed it adequately when they were alive.

I mean, let’s be clear…..my mental health has always been crushing. Walking from a life of  privilege into homelessness…..sigh. (I don’t recommend it. Thumbs down. Zero stars. Lol) Add to it, a body that’s decided to take a nose dive all of the sudden, well, that’s a poisonous concoction that was leading straight into a breakdown. If not an end.

If it hadn’t been for all the strange coincidences that led me into the company of these fine gentlemen, I’m not sure I’d be here right now. Their protection, conversation, music and friendship were just what I needed at that moment in time.

It’s all so mysterious. Life. Cause when I thought about it further, there has always been a short interaction, of various people…..that saved me from my destructive thoughts. Every terrible, tragic moment in my life. Every single one. There was always someone on the other end of it. 

Pulling me out of the mire. Giving me back hope. Making me believe in life again. Gently coaxing me into giving it one more try.

How many rebirths do we have over a lifetime? How many personal evolutions do we go through? How many tiny interactions changed the trajectory of our remaining days? I think, personally, I’ve lost count, actually.

I guess…..that’s the point of this journal entry. Appreciation for the whole serendipity of our journey. All the faces that play a pivotal role, albeit briefly. Forever changing our mindscape…..sometimes even our landscape. Tweaking our perceptions. Challenging our comfortable knowledge. Forcing us down a different path. Sometimes kicking and screaming. Showing us ‘love’ is not always a romantic concept. It has layers, levels and plateaus that can incorporate all the important people in your life.

Someone once told me, that not every important friendship is meant to be forever. Sometimes, the leading role, is just a minor part in the briefest of timelines. Some are only meant to hold your hand for a moment…..but the warmth of that hand, lingers for a lifetime.

I came into Brian and Paul’s life, near the end of theirs. Mere months separated me from ever knowing them at all. Yet, they changed the course of my life forever.

It’s hard to let go of special people. Whether they are still living, or in death, it’s all very hard. But I am so thankful to them and every person that was there to help in my life’s multiple rebirths, in that briefest of moments.

Their warmth still lingers. I carry it within me until I see them again. Soon. Life is all too short, is it not?