subject line: june gloom.


san luis obisbo, california

I used to think my anxiety was bad. My heart would sink, my hands would shake, and my mind would race with terrifying thoughts while at the same time feeling void of anything at all.
Over the last month I learned that my anxiety had been in infancy, that it was hungry for fuel. That when fed, it can grow into a snarling monster creeping faster toward me, breathing down my neck.

Dan took his life on a summer Monday in May. On a Tuesday, two weeks later, we discovered him missing and then passed under the unforgiving sun of the desert. A gentle soul, a kind, giving, beautiful soul burdened by the weight of his own world and the sweet seduction of a needle. People came from all ends of the earth to mourn his passing. From musicians in the mountains, to a brother in Italy, we all came together to tell Dan-o we loved him one more time. He brought us together. He reminded us what love looks like, even if for a second, he forgot to look for himself.

Bug tried to take her life on a Thursday morning in June. Heart broken and hungry from months of a missing appetite and a lost love, she decided she did not want to find out what was just around the corner for her. She saw the blood pouring slowly like syrup out of her wrist and thought of her father. She decided not to leave him that way. She apologized and he took her to the hospital.
On a Monday I drove two hours North to pick her up from the hospital where she had been under a 72 hour hold. Thin, frail, and scared. I wrapped my arms around her small body and told her I loved her. We cried together as she told me why she wanted to die. We cried harder while I told her why the world needed her. Why I need her.

Not two weeks later, on another windy Monday night, Love called me crying. I’ve never heard Love cry before... not like this. His best friends mother, a woman who Love had known his entire life, held a gun to her head and let her life go. On the floor of her bedroom she had written a painful letter, to divide her belongings and her savings, to tell her children she loved them. An amazing woman who felt she had accomplished nothing, who thought she had nothing to live for, left two adult children and two beautiful grandbabies. Grandbabies, who upon climbing up on my lap for a hug told me that their grandma went on a trip, to camp, to see the doctor. They had no idea that their mama, wiping away her tears, had found her own mother just hours earlier, covered in red.

Yes, June has taught me that anxiety is fickle. It has set my heart on fire, a painful burn sending me screaming, torn open and bare into the unforgiving arms of depression. This month gave me a new fear of the night. That moment I used to look forward to when I lay my head down on a pillow next to Love has turned into a nightmarish slide show with pictures of death that send my whole body into convulsions. I feel the pain of the hundreds of people affected by all of this grief. I try to take it all in, hoping that I am somehow lightening their load. I realize that I can’t do anything and it sends my mind racing. I simultaneously pull away from Love and push my body closer to his, hoping he can squeeze the demons out of me.

I learned this month that I am capable of feeling so much more pain and grief than I could possibly imagine. No longer am I able to feel a hug without my pain leaking from me or having to fight salty tears.

I also discovered just how powerful love and support can be. I’ve seen hundreds of hearts torn open and along side friends and family, we started stitching them back together again. I’ve seen Love break down into tears and then pull himself together again to help his friend. We’ve held on to each other tighter than ever and I have fallen deeper in love than I could have ever imagine.

Grief is strange, it’s painful and cruel. But after the haze clears, grief is freeing. It is a forest reborn after a wildfire. It is an opportunity to turn around, to forgive ourselves and to never forget the incredible people who brought us this far.