I originally had a post about privilege and my frustration on the lack of consciousness people had. But this week is a different energy. Discomfort really. Today I found out my step-grandfather passed away in Haiti.
Growing up, I was really close to him. I remember this light skin old man, slim guy with a big ol’ belly and a cute mole on his face, with a distinctive smell I could vaguely smell right now. The first thing I would do when I saw him sitting down was climb on him just to cuddle with that big belly of his. We were always quiet for the most part – he was a man of very few words. In a way it was home; him and my amazing grandmother were home to me.
Years went by and I saw him less frequently. Not sure exactly why, but things just became hectic when my grandmother fell extremely sick. She ended up passing away from Stage four cancer, a stroke that paralyzed her entire left body, and diabetes. Surprisingly, diabetes being the same cause of death as my step – grandfather.
It was a result of a high risk surgery that led to a leg amputation. During the time of my grandmothers sickness, I found out there was some infidelity on his part. If you knew my grandmother, you would think she’s as amazing and as giving as much as I do; but maybe we all, in a way, see our grandmothers from that perspective.
My grandmother was the love of my life; the biggest loss for me. So when I found out he was unfaithful to her, I felt betrayed in a sense. I never really thought about him as much anymore or spoke to him. When I found out he was sick, I wouldn’t say I didn’t care but I didn’t think much into it. My mother recently was in Haiti, and during her time there, assisted in supporting him as his health rapidly decreased.
I vaguely remember telling my aunt that he didn’t deserve help after what he did to my grandmother. That clearly came from a place of anger … until I got that late night text from my mother that he passed away.
I wouldn’t say it hit me in that moment, but the first person I thought about was my aunt from Canada – who I rarely saw growing up because of her challenges with substance abuse. In that moment, I was scared of what this loss might do to her and her mental state. All I wanted to do in that moment was be with her and console her, even though I barely knew who she was deep within.
My step-grandfather lived in Haiti for his entire life, that’s where he passed away. That’s where he will be buried. I fear and I’m constantly thinking of my aunt having to deal with such a traumatic and life altering loss alone. My aunt has multiple sisters, we are a family that supports each other especially during times of loss.
Unfortunately we can’t physically be there for her because of all of the political and economic protests and riots going on right now. It’s dangerous, given that my mother was just able to return safely after months of failed attempts due to oil spills, fires, and killings. Who’s going to physically be there for her in such a dangerous time?
This morning, I decided to watch The Red Table Talk and today’s conversation was with Demi Moore and her two daughters. The conversation was around her experiences with substance abuse and the experiences of her children having to deal with that burden, pain, and anger silently; further reflecting on her own battles with her mother.
Jada said something along the lines of you can be sensitive while angry. That resonated with me because as I deal with the frustration of my grandfather’s infidelity, I found myself being sensitive to his passing and reflecting on how I used to feel being around him.
Our feelings are multifaceted, just as our identities. I don’t believe we have to be just one thing, or feel just one thing; and I see that now after getting wrapped up in my own anger, without seeing the various dimensions of it all.
I find myself letting go of what he did to my grandmother, and realizing that he was just a human being that made a few wrong choices; questionable choices that we all have made at some point in our lives. I think what Jada was saying, was that even though we are angry, it’s okay for us to be sensitive as well. It’s not necessarily one or the other.
I think that’s where compassion comes into play. I realize that in forgiving others of the harm they have caused me or a loved one, is the first step in freedom and truly moving forward in my life.