“Who Were You Looking For?”

Even before my childhood friend asked me that question, she knew the answer. We both knew the answer. There were so many people at my nephew’s funeral.

he family processional was huge. For every one person who considered him- or herself a friend of his in that church, there were 2-3 blood relatives present. I’m not talking about “play” cousins, sisters, or brothers, I mean the blood-related real thing. I actually ended up sitting on the far end of the second pew next to one of my younger cousins. I ended up there because some of my first cousins sat on the first pew with my sisters. It didn’t matter where I sat. It just didn’t matter. My heart was annihilated so I could have been swinging from the church bell and it just wouldn’t have mattered.

The Question

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Photo credit: www.pixabay.com

A few weeks after the service, a very close friend of mine who had been at the service asked, “Trease, who were you looking for? You kept looking around the church during the funeral. Who were you looking for?” She knew the answer before she asked, but in an effort to help me come to terms with Arthur’s death, she needed to hear me say it out loud. She wanted me to say it out loud so that I, myself, could hear the answer. We’ve known each other since we were children so she knew exactly how close I had been to my nephew.

I had gone to my doctor and asked for something to help me through the service because I knew that at some point, I was going to lose it. It didn’t happen at the service and it hasn’t happened yet, but I digress. My doctor prescribed Valium and told me to start with a half-tablet so that I wouldn’t keel over should a whole one be too strong. I took that thing around 9:30 that morning even though the service wasn’t set to start until 2 PM. By 11 AM, I knew that I needed to take the other half of that tablet because as my family members began pouring into my mother’s tiny house, I found myself getting agitated and extremely upset. Believe me when I say mind over matter is a thing — it’s a real thing.

Nearly every other person in my family is either a nurse or a doctor so I let them know what I was going to do in case something funky happened. By the time we, the family, walked down the center aisle of St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church, I was a little calmer, but I was still extremely agitated. My mind began to wander. I remember looking around two times. My friend told me that I looked around more than two times — way more than two times. When she asked me who I was looking for, I calmly said, “Arthur.” She knew that already.

Only twice before had Arthur and I gone to funeral services without one another. One time had been my uncle’s funeral who passed away in July 2017 and the other had beenScreenshot_20170320-093621 that of a family friend a few years back. We always maintained eye contact during those services in case we needed to come to one another’s aid. I was looking for him on December 17, 2017. I know that sounds crazy, but I was looking for him. I knew he was in that casket, but I was looking for him. I needed to make eye contact with him even though I knew he was in that casket. I just could not fully wrap my mind around the fact that he was in that casket. My friend said, “I knew you were looking for him. We all knew.” Since my little talk with her, three other people have told me the same thing. They knew I was looking for him.

 

Answers, Solutions, and More Questions

I know he’s gone.I know I won’t hear his voice again in the present. True enough, I have a ton of videos of him laughing, making people laugh, dancing, jet-skiing, and other stuff, but I’ll never hear his voice again in the present.

I know I’ll never receive another one of his foolish texts. I know I’ll never get another text asking me what his mom cooked for Sunday dinner then telling me to fix him a couple of plates.

I know he’ll never call again telling me something weird has happened to his phone, swearing he hadn’t done anything to it. I always knew he had.

How am I supposed to move forward? I know I don’t have a choice because, for one, he wouldn’t want us to be sitting around mourning. Secondly, I have stuff to do.I’m going to keep pressing even though there are still many mornings when I just don’t want to get up. I have to, though.

Handling the death of a loved one is never easy. If it’s someone you’re extremely close to, it’s even harder. The heart will mend, but the pain will remain.

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How Much Can You Handle?

My tolerance for pain is different from yours. Yours is different from the person’s you sit next to on the train. That person’s tolerance for pain is different from the person in the cubicle next to his at work.

 

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Photo credit: Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

 

We’re all susceptible to pain — physical, mental, and emotional — and how we decide to deal with those things is just as different from person to person as the actual levels of pain we experience.

The Physical

Before July 21, 2009, I thought I had experienced the worst physical pain imaginable. At 4:53 AM on July 26, 1995, my son was came barreling through into this world and my body was traumatized, I shook. The pain was so intense, I couldn’t hold my baby for several minutes after he was born.  As the saying goes, though, I forgot every single second of the pain I’d endured over the previous 36 hours when I saw my little bundle of joy. I would be reminded of everything I went through when it was time for me to use the restroom for the first time after giving birth, but that’s neither here nor there.

 

Will at 7 weeks
Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

 

The next most excruciating level of pain I would experience came when I had to have emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder. Anyone who’s ever had a gallstone knows the pain I speak of. Well, magnify that by at least 200 and you’ll know what I went through in April 2008. The doctors and nurses asked a million times how I had been able to function with that much pain. I couldn’t answer them. To this day, I still don’t know.

Those two experiences pale in comparison to what I felt on July 21, 2009. Y’all know the story about the aneurysm so I won’t go into it, but let me just say that I would rather give birth to my 6′ tall son at his current weight of 232 pounds than to be hit with that level pain ever again.

I can handle physical pain.

The Mental and Emotional

A large part of my story involves the mental abuse I sustained and lived through over those 19 years of marriage. The belittling, the lying, the constant put-downs, being told that I was worthless, hearing him tell others he made the biggest mistake ever by marrying me, being disrespected on a consistent basis — those things finally took root in my subconscious and set up home.

One day, I started to believe that I was too much trouble. I began to believe that I wasn’t smart. I believed that I couldn’t make it on my own. He had me just where he wanted me. That level of control is reserved for abusers. Believe that.

 

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Photo credit: www. pexels.com

Then One Day…

 

…I woke up. I had to. I had to draw on the strength of the woman I was before the mental, emotional, and verbal abuse overtook me and swallowed all of me.

I also had to form an image of the woman I wanted to be in the future in order to have something to strive for. It’s taken me a minute to get there, but I am so happy to say, I’ve made tremendous strides.

I filed to register my writing business with the state of Louisiana on June 22. It became an official L.L.C. on June 25. I am working on the website now and building my portfolio. I’ve been writing for a very long time; it’s time for me to share my knowledge with the world. For the first time in my 50 years on the earth, I will do what I love to do and that’s put pen to paper.

The Moral of the Story?

Whatever the cause of your pain, use the experience to grow. The worst thing a person can do is allow the pain they feel to consume them and cause them to hurt any- and everyone that crosses their path. To hurt another person because you’re hurt is the ultimate expression of immaturity. It’s out-and-out childish.

Getting hurt is nothing new nor is it unusual. It can happen. It likely will happen. Be a grown-up about the thing and go somewhere and heal. Don’t spread that pain. Take the time you need to fix you. Don’t destroy the lives of others because someone did you wrong.

No one has time to deal with a hurt person who’s out to hurt others.

 

In This Time

It’s been just over 28 weeks since my nephew passed away.

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Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

 

So many things have happened since that time. My son has been home since school let out in early May. My granddaughter has been here since that time, too. We needed this time together. We needed this time together so desperately.

We needed to love on each other. We needed to lean on each other. We needed to bump heads. We needed to make up. We needed the tears. We needed to laugh.

With my nephew’s death came many lessons, not the least of which is that we have no time to waste on things that don’t matter or on people we don’t matter to. My best advice to you: get out of the way of toxic people. It’s true that hurt people, hurt people, but that is purely by choice. Hurt people don’t have to hurt people, they choose to. You, my friend, must choose to get out of their way.

One of the best things I’ve done recently is starting my own business. I’m not talking about reviving my Mary Kay business; I’m talking about a business of my very own. I’ll be writing and editing full time. I am also working on attaining my notary commission and am very excited about that. Every single thing about my life will be different by December 31, 2018.

My quest to become a speaker on the atrocity of domestic violence is neverending. I have some engagements coming up and will be sharing those things with you guys.

Know that your time and energy is precious. Don’t waste it.

 

Be Back Soon

It’s been rough, y’all!

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.

Bear with me. I’m on my way.

In the Hollow

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

Hollow

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Photo credit: https://stock.tookapic.com/photos/11781

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.

Depression

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.

Get Help

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:

  • Major Depression
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Psychotic Depression
  • Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • ‘Situational’ Depression

Take a look at this depression on WebMD regarding these conditions and some treatments that are available.

There is help out there. Talk! Find someone to talk to. It helps. If you need help on a larger scale, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Fridays, Saturdays, and a Month of Sundays

 

Arthur and Mia
Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

 

That Friday

“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.

That Saturday

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.

Why Is She Like That?

It’s not that she’s mean.

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.

Death

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!