~On April 2nd, 2016, my Dad died.~
I was 21 years old and living with my boyfriend (now fiance), Brian, and 2 roommates, Zoe and Jackie, while we all attended Towson University for completely separate career studies. That day, Zoe and I were on a run only a mile out from our apartment. My big brother called me, and it interrupted my running music, so I ignored the call. I’ll call him back later, I tell myself.
Then, my mom called me- I apologized to Zoe and asked if we could walk so I could take the call, something was wrong. (My mom and dad had separated and divorced when I was in middle/high school, she was remarried at the time and Dad had remained single.) When I answered the phone, my mom asked where I was, where Brian was, and if someone was with me. I was on a run, with Zoe, not far from home, Brian was working at the restaurant.
She said to sit down- I sat on the curb. She told me he died, that he overdosed in the early morning. I scream. I become a little girl again and for the first time in a long, long time say,
“Mommy, what do I do?”
When people die, there are a few things to do but mostly not anything important to do, and that can be the hardest part.
I would meet my mom tomorrow, but today, I was just to be surrounded by my friends and survive the day. We get off the phone. My mom calls Brian’s work and my best friend Sarah to tell them. I’m in the street with Zoe, and I tell her he died. I didn’t notice she has been sitting next to me and has had her arm around my back. We stand, hold hands, and walk home.
I’m shocked with dry cheeks and I repeat again and again, “but I just saw him!” I called the restaurant Sarah and I both worked at and told them I’ll be out for… 2 weeks? I definitely won’t be in tonight… The first time in my life that I wonder, is there a timeline for when life will be normal again? Will it ever be “normal” again?
We get back to our apartment, and a lot of what’s next is a blur. I remember not crying yet, still too stunned that my worst fears had come true. Brian breaks through the front door, holding flowers, and pulls me so tightly into his arms. I’m numb and relieved to have him. Sarah arrives sometime shortly, too. It’s late afternoon and sunny. Sarah, Brian, Zoe, and Jackie watch me, holding their breath, ready for me to burst into flames, but I sit quietly on the couch.
Jackie, Zoe, Brian, Sarah, and I are lost in this moment. We need to occupy the time and no one knows how. Someone suggests a hike- okay, sure. They roll 2 joints. We get blankets, and leave. They take me to one of our favorite trails at Loch Raven Reservoir. We arrive at the Furnace Trail. The trail is flat and straight for about a mile and leads to a large peninsula- a spot we’ve hammocked, smoked cannabis, and enjoyed many long afternoons in the past.
| It’s serene there. |
Trees reflecting on the water every which way. We walk a mile out past all the dead trees we have never noticed and sit by the water. We light up, and watch the sun settle down. We know it’ll be dark soon and we can’t stay long.
>.The peacefulness of the moment and the dryness of my eyes won’t stay long either.<
As we finish smoking, we all at once become aware of the gusts of wind drawing heavy, dark clouds towards us steadily. The wind and clouds move quickly and straight for our peninsula. We jump up and begin our journey back, but by the time we are to the edge of the wooded trail,
| the storm is upon us.
Little rain and heavy winds push and pull the dead trees around us to life. The trees screech and scream as darkness falls. We turn on the flashlights on our phones and decide to walk fast, not run. Tall, dark, and old figures sway around us. Thick branches break and fall, taking more down with them. The woods are crumbling. The dead trees screaming, winds howling, and branches falling make a cacophony around us, but we are silent moving through the woods. Our silence announces fear. Lightning flashed to the left, followed by a deep thunderous boom.
The boom sparked all of us into a trot.
Zoe voices over the crackling trees that she felt like the plot of a film was climbing and we were waiting for something terrible to happen, but it already has. As a child and young adult, I had been scared of storms, bowing at the power of mother nature. Those fears and memories of hiding under my covers are gone- I am invigorated by the storm. Each breath is wind in my chest.
>Is this real?<
We make it back to the car and home safe. A month passes. A funeral comes and goes. Papers are filed. Items are sifted through.
|The distractions are gone…
May 2nd, 2016, and I am sitting on Sarah’s front porch with her. She lives in an aged home with varying women, dogs, and tapestries. The front porch is covered and elevated, with an eclectic arrangement of seating options.
A month has passed since dad died, and since we survived the storm.
This evening is the first since then that another storm has come, and like the one prior, it arrived with the darkness of night. Sarah and I sit and discuss life, politics, reincarnation, and the earth. An hour or two rolls by as we talk, spending time with each other and the rain simultaneously.
I observed the lightning, felt tickled by the rain splashing, and felt the thunder boom and echo into me in waves.
The storm passes, and I drive home. The next day, the skies are still grey.
My name is Brooke Boyd, I am a 25-year old special educator living in Baltimore City with my 2 dogs and fiance. It has been 4 years since Dad passed. Grief is an endless journey and the years following the day in the story have been filled with so much emotion. My life prior to the day in the story was full of memories of my Dad and I being close. Times and tales of how I loved my intelligent, adventurous, hilarious, Dad- who happened to become an addict. Of all my stories, the storm still rattles me and soothes me most deeply. As real as it was, I later realized it was a metaphor of my grieving to come. The grief was a storm inside me. But I learned to not fear it and to embrace it, whether I wanted to or not.