I write this with vivid images in my head.
With images of the time I was in high school sitting in front of a loud boy with a purple shirt as he and his friends made nipple jokes because this boy likes to wear particularly tight shirts that always seemed to show off his nipples.
With images of the first time I left the United States for just south of the border–to seeing prostitutes standing along the wall of a shabby building, dressed like school girls, calling out to men to make money for the night.
Again to “nipple boy”. Now we’re at our first semester at community college. He’s still wearing tight nipple-showing shirts, and I’m still wearing black, and he’s walking around campus with me on a warm afternoon. We talk a little, but there’s also a good silence. And I think that this boy, this popular, football team and wrestling team boy spent free time with me, a girl who wore heavy black eyeliner and listened to screamo, teaching me that people are more than their stereotypes.
Another image to when I first left North America and went to Europe. When the man next to me rolled up the window blind in the plane and I caught a glimpse of the clouds–and suddenly my large world became so much smaller in the best possible ways.
And these images collide into today. Today, “nipple boy”, Frank, is no longer with us. Energetic, endless prankster, open-soul Frank passed away earlier this week. My beloved large and small world, full of cultures and lands I yearn to experience, hurts as humans decide hatred is bigger than love. I am grieving. I am grieving, I am grieving, I am grieving.
One day you’re 16 with a whole world to see and experience, and the next day you’re 24, you’ve seen things, you’ve loved things, and my God, you’ve lost things.
This post is about that grief and loss. That aching hollowness in your lungs and stomach and the undercurrents of anger that make you want to shout to God that none of this is fair.
And this post is a beg to consider love. Love things fiercely and passionately. Frank and I were never “true” friends. Perhaps we made each other feel a little more seen and a little less lonely for brief periods of time. And the foreign lands I got to travel will always be such fond memories. Love the people in your life very, very hard–the ones who you’ve known for years and the ones who are your “just for right now” people. Love the places you come from and will go to. Forgive others who wrong you–but if you can’t forgive, instead, empower yourself to be better than those who wronged you and live life–because honestly, the ones who hurt you aren’t think about you as much as you think of them.
I hope that you who are grieving with losses find peace. My heart is for you. I hope that you who are filled with anger also find peace. My heart is for you, too. It is my prayer that you live passionately and love wholly.