As most of you know, we’ve had a number of deaths in my family in recent months with the latest being on March 23rd. I’m just now getting my bearings back. I can’t wait to get back to blogging and sharing my story.
Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines the word hollow:
1: an unfilled space : cavity, hole in the hollow of a tree
2: a depressed or low part of a surface; especially : a small valley or basin
The emptiness that can follow the breakdown of a relationship in some cases can best be described as hollow. A person who loves hard and loses another to divorce, a relational break-up, or death can be left hollow. The surface of that person’s very life gains a cavity. It gains a depression. What would be a physical depression on a flat surface or a hole in a tree is likened to the mental state of depression in a human being.
I’ve never hidden the fact that I suffer from depression. I’ve been in slight slumps; I’ve been so far down, I didn’t care if I woke up the next day or not. Understand that I never contemplated suicide, but I just didn’t care if I woke up or not. My entire being was in such darkness, I just didn’t care. This was especially true shortly after my divorce.
I had spent so many years feeling worthless and the fact that the one thing I wanted more than anything, my marriage, had failed just added to the destruction of my mind. It wasn’t about the failure of the marriage itself, it was the failure I felt as an individual. It took me a while to realize that the abuse was not my fault. If you’re caught in an abusive situation, it’s not your fault either. Trust me on that one. No one deserves to be abused under any circumstance.
Here lately, I’ve found myself in another state of depression that is new to me. I’m watching my son deal with the same level of the issue and I’m not able to do much.
Death and Depression
When my nephew passed away on December 9, 2017, time stopped for nearly everyone who knew him. He was extremely popular, not only in our little town but with many of the folks he befriended online. For his funeral, people traveled from as far as New York to pay their respects. The fact that he was so loved gave us some solace, but the pain of losing him, as a pillar of our family, was and continues to be what nightmares are made of.
There is a darkness in my soul that I can’t shake. I’m not haunted by him or his spirit. It’s nothing like that. It’s just that I continue to struggle with not knowing where he is. There has never been a time when I didn’t know where he was. I always, always, always got a text or a call from him if he was leaving. This time I got nothing. Death took him so unexpectedly. He had no way of knowing. He would have said goodbye. He would have told me he was leaving. I never got to say goodbye.
I go to work every day. I have started writing again in earnest. I have started going to happy hour. I’ll be dating again soon. There is, however, a cloud over my head that I can’t outrun. It’s depression.
My son has lost a large amount of weight. He is struggling greatly in his classes. He and my nephew had a bond that was just as tight as the one I, myself, shared with my nephew. He’s coming in the clearing, but depression has him in its grip.
As I said, we are in a state of depression. We are trying so hard to pull out, but we’re in the throes of depression. I plan to get some professional help for the two of us.
There are several different types of clinical depression including:
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Take a look at this depression on WebMD regarding these conditions and some treatments that are available.
“Hello? Whatchu want, Big Sexy?” I answered my phone at exactly 2:16 P.M. with that playfulness we’d shared all our lives.
“Trease, tell my mama I need some antifreeze for my car” my nephew, Arthur, said.
He said a few more things before we ended a very short conversation that day, including the fact that he was running late for work and needed to get off the phone. It was the last one I had with him. The last thing I said to him during that 2-minute call was that I was leaving for Dallas as soon I got off work that day; he simply said, “Okay.”
It has been 122 days since that little chat. It has been 122 days since I last heard his voice. The date was Friday, December 8, 2017.
Just as I told him I would, I left for Dallas right after work that day. My spirit was restless. Even though I had had a lot of coffee and soda that day, what I was feeling wasn’t caffeine jitters. My soul was vexed. Friday evening exit traffic didn’t make matters any better. I just could not settle down. At one point, I turned my radio off and prayed to God to still me. That prayer lasted two hours. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I just knew that something was off.
My nephew died the next morning.
He went to bed somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00 AM the morning of December 9, 2017. That would be the last Saturday morning he would sit outside on the porch of his home in Cotton Valley.
As usual, he had sat on his porch smoking those Black & Mild cigarillos and drinking his homemade peach vodka (he was cheap – he’d mix peach soda and vodka). The last thing he told the guy who was staying with him was to leave the sliding door unlocked because a friend was coming by to make sure he was up for work later that morning. She would find him shortly before noon, still warm.
They tried to call me four times before I finally answered. I did not recognize the number so I didn’t answer. It was an Arkansas number and since I had received three calls from it, I figured I should answer.
Before the young woman said anything, I could hear my sister wailing in the background, saying, “I’m never going to see my son again! Arthur’s dead! Trease, Arthur’s dead!” I had slowed to a crawl and finally pulled over to the side of I-20 East. I kept screaming, “What are you talking about?? Who is this?? Who’s dead?? Who are you talking about??” That’s when the young lady said, “Ms. Trease, Arthur is dead!”
It has been 121 days since he died. It has been 121 days since he drew his last breath. The date was Saturday, December 9, 2017.
That Next Sunday
We knew there would be many people there. We had no idea the church would be packed for both the wake and the funeral. As is pretty much standard in the black community, funerals are held on Saturdays. I don’t know why, that’s just the way it is. Arthur’s was held on Sunday, December 17, 2017, at 2 P.M. We did that for two reasons: my cousin, who delivers the eulogy at the funerals of all family members couldn’t be there until that Sunday; and the employees at International Paper wanted to be there. The entire plant wanted to be there but wouldn’t have been able to had the service not been held that Sunday.
I remember the service. I remember the fact that my son, who was immediately in front of me with my granddaughter, stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Arthur lying in state. There was a kind of domino effect because I had my head down and bumped into him. My son started screaming, “No!!” Although I had taken a prescription Valium, I remember every single thing that happened during the service.
I remember my sister’s dedication to him. I remember all the people who got up and paid tribute to him. I remember that I didn’t cry a lot. I don’t think I did. Maybe I did.
It’s been 113 days since we said goodbye to Arthur James Wade, Jr. The date was Sunday, December 17, 2017.
A Melding of Days
For the longest time following his death, the days all blended into each other. There were no weekdays; there were no weekends. Holidays were just…days. Easter was not hard this year, it was just another day. In years past, just like Christmas and New Year, Easter was a huge deal for the family. There would be a lot of food and pictures. This time around, it was just another day.
I’m better now. I’m still so deep in the trenches of grief that I’m breathless, but I’m better.
He wouldn’t want us suffering. He wouldn’t. I’m trying so hard to push forward, but there are so many days when I just spin my wheels.
I miss him. There are no words in anyone’s dictionary to describe the void in my life his death left. I miss him.
The days are finally separating themselves. I’m glad they are because as of yet, I haven’t been able to. They’re all one big jumble in my mind.
It’s not that she thinks she any better than anybody else.
It’s not that she doesn’t care.
It’s none of those things.
It’s just that she doesn’t feel anything anymore. Well, she feels a little bit, but she’s well on her way to stopping that “feeling” train from rolling at all. She’s back at that point again. It’s imperative that she stop that thing. All those feelings are going to kill her.
To let it roll on will allow the things she does feel to kill her. She’s smart enough to recognize things for what they are and to let this train continue to roll is suicide. For real, all the bullshit just might kill her. She would be allowing it to kill her if she doesn’t stop those feeling from clouding her judgment.
The sad thing is that locomotive is gaining traction. It’s plowing full steam ahead at a dangerous speed. She doesn’t like “feeling” stuff, especially when those feelings are reciprocated. Damn all that.
The good thing, though, is that she can stop it. She knows how and she’s going to.
The physical deaths are unavoidable. The mental and emotional ones are. There are two ways to handle that thing. The first: trust no one. The second: be smart enough to walk away and STAY away when someone shows you their true colors when those colors are dark. Let’s get back to the girl’s story.
Oh, she had slipped for a while and let the wall crumble a bit, but the foundation for that thing is still there and she’s rebuilding with a furor that’s unheard of. It’s safer that way.
She had spent nearly 20 years behind a wall that prevented anyone from seeing the pain she was in. The wall was just a cover. She felt stuff, but to the naked eye, it was not visible. She had mastered the art of preventing tears from falling. No one knew that she cried. She refused to allow her feelings to surface. It safer that way.
So many things have died. Death by any other name is still death. People have died. Things have died. Death by any other name is still death.
The physical deaths have almost taken her out. Since July 31, 2017, she has seen three deaths in her family. Here recently, she has seen the death of one of the women who was her sister-in-law was nearly 20 years.
On July 31, 2017, she lost an uncle. He was 82 so he was considered elderly, but did that fact lessen the pain? Nah, because he was one of her favorite uncles. He was one of the last real examples she had of a man. She had watched him treat her aunt like a queen.
On December 9, 2017, she lost what could only be considered one of her limbs. She lost her nephew. He was the closest person to her. They had a brother/sister relationship. She won’t ever be same. She has no closure because she just doesn’t want to close that door. She never will.
On January 14, 2018, she lost one of her first cousins and it was that one that caused her to start construction on that wall. As bad as it may sound, she’s better at not feeling that she is the opposite. Back in 2014 when another of her favorite uncles died, she shed a single tear. One. She shed one tear. Her heart was broken into a million pieces when he passed, but that wall had prevented her from letting that broken heart break her.
On March 23, 2018, she lost one of the women who had been her sister-in-law for close to 20 years.
Death of the Mind and Heart
The mental and emotional shit that comes from caring is just not worth it to her. She has felt enough. She’s just not interested in caring anymore. Let’s clarify — she’ll always, always, ALWAYS care about what her son and granddaughter feel, but those two are the only ones she can allow to get to close to her, just like it was before. She’ll always be there for her family, she just can’t allow them or their stuff to drag her under. She’ll never leave her friends sides, but she’s had to re-learn a very painful lesson. Not everyone has your best interest at heart. Some people are only after what they can get.
When people show you who they are, believe them. I don’t’ care how long you’ve known them, BELIEVE THEM! Dueces, y’all!
CVOC. I don’t know the exact length of that road, but I know that from Mama’s house to his trailer in Cotton Valley, it is exactly 6.7 miles. It’s ½ a mile from Mama’s to CVOC, but in total, it’s 6.7 miles. That’s the shortest route. It takes about 13 minutes to get there on that back road. It never really takes anybody that long on that road because most everyone travels well above the speed limit back there so in reality, it’s about 10 minutes from Cotton Valley to Sarepta. To be honest, I don’t even know if there is a posted speed limit back there. I’ve traveled that road my whole life, but for the world of me, I don’t know if there is a posted speed limit back there.
I used to take that road 3-4 days a week as an alternate route on my way in from work. The other way, straight up 371 North, is a true 10-minute drive. There was never any special reason for choosing one over the other. Most times, I would decide shortly after I passed the trailer which route I’d take. I haven’t been on that road since December 17, 2017. That was the day of the funeral.
I don’t know the exact distance of the entirety of CVOC from tip-to-tip, but I can tell you that if you travel the entire road, just short of the turn-off to go to Dorcheat Bayou, you’ll find St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church’s cemetery. It’s nothing fancy, just the burial place for many in the black community in our little area. My mama, daddy, grandparents, some of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends are resting out there. My love, Arthur James Wade, Jr. is resting out there.
As I typed his name just now, my heart skipped a beat. I stopped breathing. I do that nearly every time he crosses my mind. I still do that. Here lately, I’ve started to get headaches when I think of him. For a while, I giggled a lot when I thought about him, but lately, I’ve gotten headaches. I’ve actually gotten physically sick a few times in the recent past when he’s come to mind, but these headaches…
Back to that back road.
I used to take that road on my way home from work. I made a point of traveling it when I needed to run to Springhill for something, too. When I would go to Springhill using the back road, I’d get to glance over and see Mama and Daddy’s grave marker, and I’d say, “Hey, Mama! Hey, Daddy!” Sometimes, I’d just wave. I haven’t been back there since December 17, 2017. I don’t plan to go back there any time soon because Arthur is back there.
The cemetery is nearly on the other end of CVOC from the point where I would get on it near his trailer, and to get home, I wouldn’t have to pass his resting place, but for some reason, I can’t get on that road. I just can’t. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like if I get on that road, this little scab that’s formed over my heart is going to be ripped off. It’s not even close to being healed. It’s still kind of bloody and raw, and Lord knows it’s tender to the touch, but if I go back there, that scab is going to get ripped off.
I feel like if I go back there, I’m going to lose it. I’m not afraid of encountering his spirit or anything like that; I just can’t accept the fact that there’s nothing back there except his body in a cold, dark grave. I can’t accept the fact that when it’s raining and cold, he’s lying back there in a box. None of us have been to the grave and back so no one can tell me what’s going on with him. I don’t know what happened after he was buried. I know his body is still there, but that’s all I know.
At some point, I’m going to start the grieving process. I haven’t reached those stages yet and I’m okay with that. People grieve differently so I just taking this thing one day at a time, but I’m still at a complete and total loss. He just isn’t gone in my mind. I know he’s not here, but again, he’s not gone in my mind.
Everybody feels depression at some time or another. We all get a little down in our spirit now and then. A little depression is normal, right? No one is 100% happy, 100% of the time. Some people call it the blues. Some folks just refer to it as being down. True enough, we all feel down in the dumps from time to time; the problem is some people fall into the pit of depression and can’t find a way out. Sometimes, we cannot find our way to the surface of that deep blue. Some people are pulled under by a current that won’t let go.
That Sinking Feeling
I’m not going by things I’ve heard. I’ve been severely depressed before. I’ve never been suicidal, but let me tell you, there have been days when it really didn’t matter if I woke up or not. I just didn’t care. Did I want to die? Nah. I would never want to leave my friends and family. My son and my granddaughter need me. If there’s one thing I know, I know my folks love me. That man loves me. He needs me.
During the time I was married, though, when the days of hell melded together, I just didn’t care. I knew that on any given day, I would likely be blamed for something. I knew that it was likely I would be belittled or made to feel inadequate in some way or another. I knew that regardless of how clean the house was, he’d find a speck of lint (because he made a point of looking for things like that). I knew that he’d head upstairs to check if the underside of the toilet lid was clean. I knew if there was a single cup in the sink, he’d stand there with his coat on and wash it because he “couldn’t stand mess”. Overall, I knew nothing I ever did would be good enough.
When It Finally Sets In
For me, deep, deep depression set in on three different occasions in my 50 years. As I said before, the first time was while I was married. The depression I experienced back then was the result of being battered mentally and emotionally. Eventually, I got professional help. I had to. To be honest, initially, I sought help for my son because I could see him spiraling out of control. I was kinda blind to what was going on in my own mind, but I knew my child needed help.
Almost from the beginning, the sessions that I had meant for my son turned into joint ones because the counselor recognized the mental and emotional beating I was taking. He actually told me that in the beginning, he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to help me because I was so damaged. He thought he would have to refer me to a more experienced counselor. I was a complete mess. Like I’ve said a million times before, I didn’t realize that I was in shambles because I thought the hell I was in was normal.
Anyway, the next time I found myself down under was after the divorce. Sure enough, I had been freed from that hell, but the dissolution of my marriage also meant that for the first time in nearly 20 years, I was on my own. I found myself floating in the middle of the ocean with nothing but a life raft. Yes, my family and friends were all around me and refused to let me fall or fail, but depression can put a stranglehold on you that can’t be readily pried loose. It had me and it was suffocating me. All I wanted to do was sleep. Honestly, that’s all I did. I slept. I ate. I gained weight. I cried uncontrollably. I repeated those things day after day. The difference with that bout of depression, though, was that I was able to pull myself out. I know I would have benefited from the help of my counselor, but he was 250 miles away in Dallas, but thankfully, I was able to pull myself out.
My latest battle with depression is going on right now. It still pains me to say my nephew died. My entire world shifted on December 9, 2017. Many people who knew us have said that on that day, Margarett’s son died, but that he was my baby. He was. I was nowhere near being okay when one of my closest cousins died on January 14, 2018.
This time around, though, the depression is different. I know I won’t need professional help (although I wouldn’t hesitate to get it if I felt I needed it) this time around because I’m shrouded more in grief than anything. I’m still so stunned, I haven’t reached the point that I’ve entered the grieving stages. I’m not even at the first stage of the process which is denial because the truth is, it’s still not real to me. In my mind, neither of them are dead in the sense that I will never see them again. They’re just gone. I know that makes no sense, but neither of them is dead to me.
I know the reality will set in at some point, but as of this writing, it hasn’t. Nope, there’s nothing wrong with me — folks grieve differently and this is just my reality. I’m okay. I just need to process this stuff in my own way.
If you’re depressed, get help. If that means reaching out to your folks, CALL THEM! I know what it is to be too embarrassed to tell your story, but trust me when I tell you, your folks are there for you.
IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF CRISIS COUNSELING, CALL THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE AT 1.800.273.8255. Call those folks TODAY!
At 50, I’ve felt all of these things more than once. I have felt them all in varying degrees. I have experienced them all on a variety of levels. I’ve felt them all in a variety of situations.
For the most part, bereavement, grief, and pain are the things you feel after the loss of a loved one. I’ll talk about that level of loss in a few. Let me tell you how those things come into play in the mental and emotional sense.
Nineteen years of mental and emotional domestic abuse taught me to shut down, take cover, and to fight fiercely to survive. My very soul was shrouded in the bloodiest red color. Red is an extremely emotionally intense color. While it signifies passionate love, it also points to danger, anger, and violence. Those last three adjectives sum up the19 years I was married.
While the physical abuse was limited to two incidents of spousal rape, the mental and emotional trauma is what put my life in danger. I almost died of an aneurysm that was brought on by stress.
The level of perpetual anger I felt nearly drove me insane. I was mad all the time and I was mad at everybody. I was extremely angry with myself, too. I waived between being angry with my ex for abusing me and being angry with myself for allowing it to happen and for staying.
What I felt internally took the term “seeing red” to a whole new level. Red covered everything in my life.
I’m happy to say that wherever red shows up in my life today, it’s all about its representation of determination, power, strength, and energy.
On December 9, 2017, my entire world went black. With the death of my nephew, Arthur, such deep darkness fell over my world that the light is just now starting to seep through. It comes through in spurts. Sometimes it stays around for days; sometimes it’s only a momentary flicker. For now, light is fleeting. Bereavement, grief, pain, and loss have enveloped me.
Most days I just go through the motions. I have to. I have a son who means the world to me. I mean the world to him. He needs me. I have a granddaughter who depends on me for all things in her tiny world. My siblings need me. So do my other nephews, nieces, friends, and family. I know they all need and love me, but things are still covered in black for me.
The murkiness left after Arthur’s death can’t be penetrated with well-wishes. It gnashes my soul. I hurt. I cry. I scream. Then there are the days I laugh, giggle, and chuckle when I think of something he did or said. The emotional roller coaster that I’m riding through the blackness is far from thrilling. I’m not in an amusement park. I feel like I’m in the valley of the shadow of death sometimes because I know that’s where he was. I always knew where he was. He always knew where I was. Now, I feel like he’s wandering around in that blackness that I can’t see through.
Is That Light I See?
I don’t know if what I see occasionally is real light or just a figment of my imagination. I want so badly for things to be normal, but in order for things to be normal, my nephew would have to be here. He can’t come back. He’ll never come back.
It was 68 days ago that he passed away. It’s only been 68 days. Some days, it feels like it’s been 20 years; some days, it feels like it just happened this morning. Some days, I see the light; some days, that darkness refuses to let any light shine through.
I will continue to grieve. I will struggle for some time to come. I will keep pushing forward because I have no choice. It’s what I have to do, but for now, I move in darkness.