It first happened when I was 13.
I was on a double-decker bus, coming home from a bar mitzvah party. We were being typical 13-year-olds, and goofing around on the ride back from the party.
The party was a lot of fun. There was some dancing. Mostly gossiping. Definitely eating. As the party was coming to a close, the weather had significantly improved. It went from a cool, May day, to a warm, almost summer-like feel.
The bus driver thought the bus was too stuffy, so he opened two top hatches on the upper-level of the bus before we departed. Seeing as we were 13-year-olds, some of the people on the bus decided to stick their heads out of the hatch.
I was sitting in the back with the boys and another girlfriend. Most of the girls at the party were sitting in the front. So the boys were yelling to the girls across the outside of the moving bus.
There was talking and laughing and everyone having a good time.
But then it happened. I witnessed death.
Within a matter of seconds, my friend fell into the bus. He hit his head on that bridge.
At 17, my high school boyfriend’s sister passed away from meningitis. In less than 24 hours.
It happened again when I was 22.
A friend was killed in a hit-and-run collision right outside our sorority house. She was so young and happy and friendly and kind. She truly was an incredible person.
At 27, I witnessed it again.
My cousin had a beautiful baby boy, who left the world way too soon. Two weeks after entering this world, he left. Peacefully, in his parents’ arms.
When I was 29, it happened again.
My grandmother passed away suddenly. We weren’t expecting it, which completely caught us off-guard.
It happened at 31.
A childhood friend passed away from ALS. That horrible, life-sucking disease took away his life way too early.
And, now…it happened again.
My other grandmother just passed away. We saw it coming. We knew it was approaching. But death is never easy.
You go through this “fuzzy” period of coming to terms with the fact that the one you loved is now gone.
Once it actually sinks in, you feel like you are drowning. So you try to either control your surroundings, or you try to hide in a hole.
I have always tried to control my surroundings. I organize and reorganize everything. I start AND finish projects quickly. I do all I can to try and bring some control back into my life in the hopes that it will help me cope with a loss.
And that control usually does bring some peace.
The day my grandmother passed, I started to color with the kids. Nothing special, but I just colored. I colored an entire coloring page, even though the kiddos were getting antsy to start a new project.
When I was finished, I felt accomplished. I saw a little clearer through the fuzz.
This inspired me to do more. More coloring. More painting. More creativity. In hopes to gain more control over my otherwise messy life.
It might not be perfect, but it did make me feel calm.
So I am encouraging you, on those days when you are feeling blue, grab some crayons and just color. I’ll be sitting right here next to you, coloring too.