I’ve been living very deeply in the recesses of my own head since…April, I guess. That marked the six monthaversary of my unemployment and I was nowhere near where I thought I would be at that point in time. I’d thought that by then I’d be shuffling through grad school acceptances on my way to begin my Master’s work in Library Science. Then my life was forever changed on January 19, 2013 and from then everything has been in sort of a tailspin. That was the day I found out about my aunt and everything that was formerly important took a bit of a back burner as I struggled to maintain and be a pillar of strength for my cousins who were losing their mother.

Lately though, I’ve fallen down on the job and left a bulk of the responsibility to my sistercousins, my allies in this struggle. I’ve just become worn out and tired and frustrated and disappointed and generally unhappy. When I feel myself drifting to a place where I can only see negativity, my initial instinct is to pull back immediately. I don’t wish to infect the minds of others with this overwhelming cloak of grief and despair, so I remove myself. From the lives of everyone with whom I’m close. In this case, however, my desire to protect was seen as abandonment.

These kids. The ones I’d told that I would always be there. The ones who I told to call me if anything was needed and I’d do my best to provide. The ones I promised over the bedside of their rapidly declining mother that I would always make a priority. They’ve only seen the smiley, happy, determined, courageous side of me. Not the one of mercurial moods that can shift on a dime. Not the one who slips into sadness so great and engulfing that she is barely able to rise from bed, let alone be concerned with others.

I was talking to someone the other day who, noticed my pulling away, and called me on it. She said she understood that it is my way, but made me realize that it was because she and I have a bond that is a bit different than mine with others. She’s seen the other side and is not judgmental, but respectful. She explained to the eldest of the kids and he later called me to apologize. And I felt terrible. I felt terrible because he had nothing to apologize for. He was merely confused by my actions betraying what he knew to be normal.

Truth is, I’ve been so busy helping others to cope that I never truly took the time to mourn the loss of my aunt. It was more like losing a sibling than an older authority figure. We’d been in the trenches together. Our relationship was symbiotic and for that to be taken in such an immediate manner. For me not to have had a proper chance to prepare myself and say goodbye in a meaningful way? It eats away at me every day.

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