when you can no longer contain the tears.
I met Mel this summer. His son and my partner, both named Dave, were off looking at another problem in our yard we wanted an estimate on while Mel and I stood talking about the work he’d done over the years, his friendship with Mr. French the man who’d had our house built (the only other owner of this house), Mel’s wife who’d passed away a few months prior, and Mel’s age- 86.
Perhaps it was his Army hat. Or the fact he was short like me. Something about him reminded me of my late Grandads and I fell in love.
I got to know Mel over the summer when his boys filled in our in-ground swimming pool. I made him laugh and blush numerous times. He did me a solid by saving my back from hauling rocks and I took him chili fixins. He hugged me which took me by surprise.
He was getting sick then. That was in September. He was diagnosed with lung cancer a couple weeks ago. He died this morning. He’d turned 87 since our first meeting. I was on my way to visit him, along with a couple friends, when we got the call. I was two miles away, but I needed to walked home.
My heart hurt. Not just because he died and I’d miss him. Hell, at 87, he had lived a long life and I knew he was ready to go be with his wife whom he missed terribly. His best friend had died years before. He didn’t suffer much. I think he made up his mind he was going and then he was gone.
My heart hurt for another loss. My friend’s (and Whole Being Inc tribe member’s) Mandy and Stacy had lost their son, Bryce, just a couple weeks before. Like Mel, I’d not known Bryce long, and for as much as I liked them both, I didn’t get to spend enough time with either.
Watching his mama’s grief was what was making my heart heavy. Watching my friend’s George, Patty, and Kerry’s grief this morning and knowing how much grief was coming with this loss was what was making my heart heavy.
Heaviness remaining from my recent visit “home” that I hadn’t let myself really feel. Heaviness of my business, of friendships changing, of loneliness I couldn’t talk about. So much loss had happened in the past six weeks. The weight of it all descended upon me at once.
So I walked down route 100, cars whizzing past at 50 mph, tears and snot running down my face. In between the cars, the Tweed River babbled below me, next to the road, the sun warmed my face, and the birds sang. In that moment, I had a choice: I could buck up and swallow the pain again or I could just let myself feel it, all of it.
I chose the latter. Walking, feeling, crying, thinking, feeling. Eventually, I walked in front of Mel’s house. A sob caught in my throat and a new round of tears came along with a thought. At 8:15 am this morning, there must have been some serious spiritual hoopla going on when Mel met up with his wife, best friend, friends, neighbors, and loved ones who’d gone before him. I couldn’t help it, I smiled. And you know what? I heard Mel laugh.
In the pain and the grief there was still room for love.