I thought I was a connoisseur of loss, having tasted it’s varied flavors throughout my short and overly fabulous life.
Today though, in front of my computer, looking over and over again at the same Associated Press photos of the crash scene, I am overcome with a sensation, bordering obsession, that I’m finding both novel and overwhelming.
There are a million people in my life that have affected me in a million overt and subtle ways that I’ve been compelled to write to and for, but never in a lifetime would I have ever thought of writing about Rachael.
I’m not entirely sure why I am, actually. Something about seeing her name in print on the news station’s app made things feel so otherworldly. So weirdly impersonal. So unsatisfying in its finality.
“Rachael Cavosie, 30, Waterford, NY”
I wouldn’t believe it until I saw her name in print, actually, checking every few minutes obsessively to see it. Now those letters are strung together to spell her name all over the news and in the paper and on social media, and I know that it represents a whole life.
Her name in print like this shows that her life is, just simply, over.
And that’s just impossible.
I feel like my whole body is buffering. Like it’s waiting for my mind to catch up with what the knots in my stomach know. Like it can’t compute what has happened because it doesn’t make sense.
My grief doesn’t make sense either.
This is one of those losses where everyone knew her, because she was comically everywhere. I’m not the only one that could shoot her a text and meet her at a bar with a second’s notice. Or the only person whom she’d slide up to out of nowhere and start talking about your horoscope without provocation. Nor was I the only one of her acquaintances that thought they had a connection with her. I certainly won’t be the only person who will miss hearing her distinguishably deep voice and her dimples and her cockeyed hat. I probably wasn’t the only one who made her one of the first people they came out to like I did. I likely wasn’t the only time someone confided into the space that she always gave that I had started therapy.
I’m not alone.
But the loss of her, in this way, is just so sticky. I’m stuck.
To call this crash a tragedy is a malpractice of our creativity. Twenty people are gone. And this, the improbable and mysterious crash, has rocked an entire region of people.
When losses like this happen, I think we metaphorically pat our pants and check our pockets for our important things, like all men and lesbians looking for their keys and wallets. We look around our immediate surroundings to make sure everyone we know and love is still a text away.
We then take an inventory in our brains to remember if anyone we knew in our inner circle took a limo anywhere this weekend. Then, if you’re like me, you send a text to the phone you know can’t be answered.
“Hey girl, hit me back please. I want to know you’re ok.”
Her dad has her phone now. Maybe he saw it come through.
Like all emotion sandwiches, the early stages of grief are really weird. Like foreign food you have to eat on a trip you didn’t want to go on. There’s sadness, obviously. Confusion and the slight vertigo sensation of unreality. There’s that odd color palate the week between a death and a funeral that makes the day seem like you’re looking at things in a dream sequence in a movie and the night seem soupy thick with its blackness.
I can’t decide if I need to cry or I need a snack or I want to have sex or a need hug or a cool towel on the back of my neck or if I’m tired or want to be left alone or if I want to scream or punch a nun in the throat.
This particular grieving process seems that much more confusing for my proximity to Rachael. Why is this so hard? She was amazing and odd and perfectly herself and all the things I can ever hope to be, but she wasn’t my best friend, she wasn’t my girlfriend, so why can’t I sleep without dreaming of the crash that stole her from us?
I want to be angry. I want this to be a grand conspiracy. Or terrorism. Someone needs to pay. The energy building up in my chest seems wasted if I can’t picket something.
So I lash out at those grieving slightly less than me.
So I cry during my new running group.
So I seek comfort in peanut butter on spoons and my ex-girlfriend who will generously buy me chicken wings after I cry in her shoulder.
I want to watch every video about the crash, read every article, see every news update. I want the tragedy to seep into my bones so Rachael knows that the loss of her wasn’t missed in the traffic jam of my social media scrolling.
I want to never be numb to this. I don’t want time to erode the sharp edges that keep cutting open the healing.
I want to talk about her to people at work that have surprising and interesting side lives like mine.
I want to remember freshly that she was freaking nuts in the best possible way. And that she could mysteriously be in three places at once. And how she would seemingly repel from the ceiling to appear next to me just to talk about finding a guru before she would disappear like a ship in the night to move on to make an equally random memory for someone else.
I want to keep shaking my head and saying, “This is un-fucking-real” to anyone who will listen, because I think that’s what she would be saying too.
I’ll gladly take on this odd grief for my friend. I’m proud to say that this woman who is herself a giant collection of stories, is a part of mine. Just by existing and being everything she was, she is now part of the fabric of my future.
And at the juncture of where our story ends, and someone else’s continues, isn’t being part of someone else’s fabric all we can ask to be?
Thank you, Rach, you freaking maniac. I’ll tell your stories for as long I have breath and someone is there to listen.