This year is coming to an end and so should, slowly, the path I’ve been forced to follow, the path to letting go.
I will burden my readers with the same topic, again, but this time most probably will be the last. Because many other things are going on in my life but grieving is still very much a part of it, and because I want to, I need to. Because I get to talk about all the rest quite often but this is a matter that I can most of the time only face with me and myself, and this blog is an outlet for my deepest thoughts. I thus hope the people who follow me here will excuse what could be perceived as a lack of originality.
The following words are for Numan.
Last night, I dreamed of you. I know, it’s just a dream, it’s not supposed to mean that much. To me it does, though. I’ve been waiting to dream of you for months now. Since you went away, you hadn’t visited my sleep once and at first, I didn’t really understand why. I guess now I do, I guess I needed to be ready. To see you in my dreams and still want to face the following day.
It hasn’t always been easy to face the days, this year. In the beginning, I barely did. Then slowly, I picked myself up and fought back all the fear, all the incomprehensions, all the sadness. There’s a lot there, you know. Like, a loooot. Years of leading this restless life, of inputting new information almost daily without really ever truly taking the time to process all of it. I mean, I am sure it works for some people. Well, probably. I thought it worked for me for a long time and avoided the alarm signals. I wanted to go everywhere, to see everything. I refused to let anyone tell me I couldn’t. I was proud.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to go everywhere and do everything. When it’s time. You know, when I took the decision to leave, there was no going back. There never will be, and I never want it to be. I like what I’ve learned, what I know, and I cherish the pieces of my heart that belong to far-away lands. But that’s the thing: they’re freaking pieces of my heart, my very much alive, beating and over-feeling heart that can’t just love without consequences. I don’t know how they do it, honestly, those people who keep moving from one place to another, I don’t know what they do of those pieces. I know how contradictory I sound, I know I am one of those people, though I’m giving my heart a break for now. Maybe they don’t let themselves love far enough, maybe they know how to protect themselves just enough, or maybe they simply don’t realize. Maybe they naively believe, like I did before, that adding all those experiences to their checklist and constantly meeting and getting to know all those new people and learning about all those new cultures and languages and places will fill the void in their hearts. Maybe they need to go just a little too far, just like I did, to understand that this strategy works, until it doesn’t anymore. And then you’re left with even more doubts and questions than before.
The other day, I read about a speech that J.K. Rowling wrote about failure. At one point, she said something like: “My biggest fear had come true, and I was still alive.” And it hit me. I am still alive. Since I was a teenager, since my grandpa died, I would sometimes get overwhelmed by a deep anxiety just thinking about the fact that people close to me could die. I know it’s grim, but I would imagine having to go to the funeral of my best friends or my family and that made me cry, sometimes. I thought it was something I just could never handle. It was hard enough seeing older relatives go, but there was something about the idea that life could abruptly end before one could truly live it that terrified me more than anything else in this world.
And then it happened. The person that was the closest to me, with whom I had lived the love story I always dreamed of, my best friend, got sick, and died. You died. My biggest fear has come true… and I am still alive.
I also happened to have learned a few things in the process.
I learned that the fact that you went away so young didn’t prevent you from truly living your life until then. You inspired so many people. Going through most of the pain of your sickness and death alone (this seems so selfish, if anyone suffered it was you), I learned that I was a lot more lonely than I thought I was, and that although I took pride in my ability to be alone with myself for a long time, being alone is not impossible, it’s just harder. I learned that I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was, and that my mind reacts in very intense ways when confronted to such extreme emotions, ways that have hurt people around me. I learned that those things take time, that there are mistakes that have to be made in order to grow. I learned that the pain will always be there, and that it’s okay. Pain is a part of life, and if I don’t take care of that part of me that’s fragile and vulnerable, if I don’t allow to feel what my heart wants to feel, I will never truly heal. I’ve learned that if I was ever going to move on, I had to sit and look at my life in all honesty, admit that I don’t have all the answers, and then forgive myself.
I also learned that being on the other side of the world doesn’t make your problems go away from you. That being home can be just as much of a journey as backpacking the world.
I think that you didn’t visit me before in my dreams because you knew I wasn’t ready yet. This part of my mind, where fantasies live and dreams are created, where I hide when the world out there is just too much to handle, where I wander off several times a day, where everything is okay and where you are still very much alive, you belong there now. With others, such as Fouad, which I never mentioned here, but whose death also deeply saddens me. Fouad was a bright and ambitious young man, one of the first people I met in Nablus, who unfortunately got stabbed to death, victim of a deeply unjust and incomprehensible violence.
Both of you now live there, in people’s minds and hearts, and it’s nice to know you’re there, but it’s not real life. That is something else I had to learn, and I think in a way, you knew. You knew that as long as I hadn’t learned that, it would not have been wise for you to come say hi in my dreams, you knew it would have made things a lot more difficult for me to understand that you exist only there, and that my life is here. With the living, in the real world. In this fucking hard and cruel world, sometimes. And I can come and see you, I always will, but I can’t stay too long if I want to become all the things I want to become one day, if I want to truly live my life.
Passenger – Life’s For The Living
Last night, I dreamed of you, for the first time. And I still wanted to wake up and get on with my day, and I think that means I’ve been slowly getting ready. All this time, I thought the hardest part of this was saying goodbye to you but I think it has been about much more than that. It was about letting go. Of you, but also of the person I was before I lost you. I think I have accomplished much of the necessary journey to get there. I feel like I understand myself more now, even though I realize there’s still a long journey ahead. A life journey.
I am still proud, even more. I never thought I could have come all this way in a year. It was definitely not the way I expected, but I guess it’s the one I needed to take in order to grow. I have been waiting for this moment for a while, for being able to say “That’s it. I’ve come out of this dark tunnel. I’ve survived, and now I’m ready to kick some ass.”
I’ll never be like all of them. I never have been. My mind will always be restless, my heightened emotions will always make me live intensely and my curiosity will always make me look for more. I’ll always have pieces of my heart in South Korea, Bulgaria or Togo, and an even bigger chunk of it in Palestine. I will always wonder who I am and what exactly defines that, I will always be asking existential questions to the world. I made a decision a few years ago, and it was never going to be an easy road to follow. But heck, it has been one hell of a ride and I can’t wait to see where it will take me next. My life is a story that has yet to be written and I can’t wait to write it.
For now, it’s happening in Switzerland and it’s slow and quiet and studious, but it’s good. Some friends have visited me and I got to explore my country with them, as you can see from all of these pictures. I cherish those moments, I cherish how lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life. It is healing.
I think it’s working, because last night, I dreamed of you. And I still want to face the day.