Dedicated to the ones I love and lost. It’s not really goodbye…I’ll see you later.
I’ll never forget the last birthday my Nana had on earth. Our family had an informal dinner for her at her house. I was the first to arrive. I had picked up these vintage-style roses to give her, too. Granted, they were from Giant, but they were pretty to me. And she appreciated the sentiment. I just wanted to show her I loved her. We sat in her kitchen, talking, laughing, and watching a rerun of some syndicated show, much like we had done all my life. Nothing special at the time, but, when she passed less than two months later, that memory replayed over and over in my head. Sitting at her homegoing service with a casket surrounded by flowers, I was grateful I had given my own while she could appreciate them. I’ll never forget that moment with just us.
I was thinking of that memory this week after watching Episode 204 of FX’s Pose. The show explores the gay and trans community in late 80s-early 90s New York, specifically within the ballroom world. With the questions, confusion, and downright hate that is often spewed at the LGBTQ+ community, Pose is an important show that has sparked necessary conversations and brought to the forefront the talent of other gay, lesbian, and transgendered creatives that light up the screen and put in work behind the scenes.
Without giving away too many spoilers for those who haven’t seen the episode, I teared up in watching how a young trans woman was taken from this world violently and senselessly, knowing that murders of LGBTQ+ people happen in real life in this country and around the world. It has been for ages. While some things are changing, some things, sadly, stay the same.
What made me even sadder were the tales of regret interwoven in the story. Though there was a strong sense of peace and resolve with the character coming to the funeral herself in spirit, it wasn’t actually real. The I love you’s were left unspoken. Apologies and praise weren’t actually given. Forgiveness never actually received. That’s how life often can be.
When people pass, we are quick to want to give them a grand farewell. What’s that saying, though? “Funerals are for the living, not the dead.” We shower them with well-written eulogies and beautiful flowers, highlighting our favorite memories with them that we’ve rehearsed over and over. Though they showcase the person gone and the things he or she did while on earth, funerals are really to soothe our own spirits. But, in life, we tend to take people for granted, not showing our appreciation for them until it’s too late. There’s another popular saying I hear often which my Nana would even say: “Give me my flowers while I’m alive to smell them.” Give me my appreciation and accolades while I’m around to receive it. Show me love while I’m still here to show it back. Because when people are gone, they’re GONE.
When my Nana passed, it made me cling even more to the loved ones around me. It made me reach out more to the few real friends I have to strengthen our relationship. That meant stepping out of my own self-centeredness, pride, and sometimes anger and hurt, to do so. I can easily get caught up in my own world and don’t spend time with the people I claim to love, so I’ve been trying to do better. There’s a few I haven’t healed with just yet, but I’m working on it. Over the years since, I’ve continued to have to say goodbye to even more people in my family. I just said farewell to my uncle the day after the Fourth of July. Though it’s been painful, I said goodbye without any regrets on my heart. People knew I loved them because I showed it while they were here.
If there are people in your life that you know you need to fix things with, heal things with, or even just send a text or call, do it now. I know from experience that life is way too short. People are literally here today and gone tomorrow. You don’t want any words left unsaid with those in your life. Show them love and appreciation while you can. It’s definitely cliché but true.
This may be a little weird but I keep that picture of my Nana’s flowers at my desk. It’s my own personal reminder that people deserve love now while they are around to feel it. No regrets over here.