Families logo

Keep standing tall

by Jasmine Anderson-Kaisa about a year ago in grief
Report Story

A series of falling down and getting back up.

At age 7, I lost a mother figure to a gastric bypass surgery and I never thought I would find the love I lost that day she never came back. It was a day to remember, being pulled out of my 2nd grade class in the middle of the day and getting into my fathers truck while making our way home before going to the hospital. My fathers face so silent of any emotion and my mom looking like she had never been more confused about something in her life.

It’s a wonder sometimes, how this particular moment in life is one of the very few clear things I can visualize from my childhood, a staple I pull strength from every time. After dropping our school packs at home and changing our clothes quickly, I peer out a window to see my mother and father in an embrace, my mother crying and my fathers face turned the opposite way out of my view. Of course making haste of my current objective, I hurry to the truck again just behind my brother and sister. The three of us children not having a clue of what is going on but staying silent, learning quickly to stay that way until we reach our destination, the emergency room of the nearest hospital just down the road and up a slight hill from our house.

It‘s then that I notice my grandparents car parked haphazardly in the parking lot near the entry to the hospital and I still have no inkling of what may be going on. These few moments before my father parks, I take some time to replay what happened that morning before going to school. Did my mom say we had an appointment I forgot about? Was my sister and brother in trouble with the dentist again? Or did my grandparents need to see us before they got shots from our family doctor to make them happy? Nothing could come to mind upon my father finally finding a parking spot and nobody moving until he had spoken the first few words for us to hear since leaving school.

”Now I’m going to say something and I don’t want you all to start freaking out until I’m done.” The worst had then come to mind, we were the ones getting shots and this was not going to end well. “Your aunt has passed away from complications of her surgery, and although she’s gone, she loved you each very much.”

The beat of my heart changed that very moment, my brain shut off from attacking itself with the pain my body began to feel, in an instant I had never hated anyone like I hated him for saying something I thought to be a lie until I saw with my very eyes the truth of what he was saying. I‘d like to be clear in saying I never had a close relationship with my own parents while I was growing up. I never learned to love them like my brother and sister was able to or know how to be myself around them and being comfortable doing that. Sure I love my parents like every child does, but my aunt was my everything. Our souls were intertwined with every minute we spent together and every moment we loved, laughed, and lived life by each other’s side. I looked more of her daughter than my parents which is how I donned the nickname little her, little Sheena.

Walking carefully into the hospital, no sudden movements, trying to focus on seeing her and planning to wake her up and let everyone see this was just a joke she played on everyone, you could feel the sorrow before seeing who it was coming from. So tangible, one might have thought it was emanating from within themself. But I knew, I could always tell because as much as my soul blended with my aunts, it was the same for me and my grandma. Thats when I shifted myself from feeling pain to hiding myself within so it wouldn’t make her feel more feelings as this was a burden no one could predict she would bare so young.

Being directed into the room one at a time, it was at last my turn and I spot my grandma, my grandpa, and a bed with a familiar frame I slept next to practically everynight. Quiet steps, because she’s not moving, it appears she’s sleeping but my grandparents are crying and her face remains the same, so peaceful, nothing, no chest movements of her breathing in and out. I take her hand in mine and feel a warmth that is unfamiliar as her body feels like she has the chills, getting cooler.

It‘s in that moment I whisper “please wake up,” that my grandma says at the same time “tell her goodbye.” The first and only tear I shed for my aunt in anyone’s presence finally falls. At 7 years old, I master hiding how I feel better than anyone could ever know. After I wipe this tear away and finally say my goodbye, I turn to hug my grandparents with a final sob, and walk out with fogged glasses trying to get myself together before I see the rest of my family that gathered and takes up an entire waiting room area.

I play the part perfectly, smile, hug, don’t cry and let everyone else talk. It was almost unbearable how much everyone would cry harder when I came to greet them. There was almost a crack made in my armor from the tight squeezes and everyone calling me over almost as if I was a small replica of the loved one we all lost and they needed more time to say how they felt.

They were all talking to the wrong person, they were hugging the wrong person, they were holding on to the wrong person. They were forgetting who I was and replacing me with their memories, something I wasn’t but I became a puppet for them to use, to change, mold into something else. I lost myself to protect them from their own pain. I let myself be lost and shaped into something they could all hold on to if only to relieve their pain for a few moments in time. I became the sponge absorbing everything they left in the open, their wounds and tears. I filled those gaps so they could heal and move on in their own time.

I will never fully comprehend how at 7 years of age, I became the glue my family needed. Almost like a shapeshifter of sorts, I was something everyone needed me to be. The questions I ask myself though while growing up and learning more about myself and capabilities was, was it worth it? Was it worth not dealing with my feelings, not showing my pain, not feeling my loss like they all were able to? Was it worth hiding myself from me and thinking God could not see what I was going through and in turn running away from everything he had to offer me?

Six months after graduating high school, class of 2014, I left my home and everything I knew. I moved to the great state of Arizona, just barely out of reach from home and tried to find the answer in myself to that question which began to eat at me from way deep inside somewhere I thought was lost and buried, no longer to be found surely.

It was worth it for me. It was worth my falling on my own sword to relieve the pain of my family even if only for a few moments to see them happy and forget, forget the pain, forget the sorrow, forget the trauma of losing her. It was worth it to me to see how I could morph myself into one thing and become another as it allowed me to grown in ways I didn’t understand until I became an adult.

From 7 to the age of 18, I thought I was lost and I doubted myself from ever be able to find being whole again. You see I wasn’t lost, I wasn’t allowing them to mold me, I wasn’t damaged from grief and heartbreak. I fell dormant inside to gather observations of growth. They weren’t taking anything from me, I was taking pieces from them and finding a way to put myself back together so my heart could beat without breaking, so my soul could move on and find life again, so my being could find love for those who surrounded me.

The years I had with my aunt while she was here on earth were short but prepared me for way more than I thought I would ever have to go through and live through as a child, teenager, and now adult. She was always so full, of life, humor, love, inspiration, and integrity. I know now why we were so intertwined. I was meant to carry on what she left behind. I have fulfilled my observations while growing and have become full fledged in myself of love, life, integrity, humor, and inspiration. I carry a piece of her in me where I go and spread my love of life around to inspire others, to allow them to be set free from boundaries of passion and still keeping their integrity, in finding the collateral beauty this life has to offer in humor and love. I am her legacy in this life of what she left unbeknownst to myself way back then. I still fall, I still have doubts, I still am human, but i always get up and keep finding a way to stand in my life through God and everything my past has taught me.

I still have a long way to go but from the beginning I have been a pillar of strength. I am still finding out new things I learned when I was younger apply to the life I lead now. An example being the reason I only shed but one tear that day at the hospital was so I could be a light to shine in front of everyone else who was hurting. Another being intergrating myself in my parents life and giving myself permission to grow in front of them was to show them they raised someone strong to lean on when they fall weak. And myself, learning to find the balance between when to allow my vulnerability out and giving myself permission to do so in front of people who I find are my pillars of strength so as to not let me fall completely but just enough to let go of what needs to leave so I can stand when ready, to stand tall and steady.

grief

About the author

Jasmine Anderson-Kaisa

Write to inspire, inspire to succeed!

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments

There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2022 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.