Put yourself in his shoes…

It was a week since I was back in South Africa, from my rather life changing trip to Namibia. My head was still reeling and I was in desperate need of finding some

familiar ground to just feel like I was back home. But my mind was in another place and it was not the best situation for me and hectic work situation.

Tracing the culprit as to my mind being on his own wondrous path, I realised it all started with me opening Pandora’s Box in Namibia. In this case, it was all the feelings on R I had closed the lid on to cope with his passing. A good idea at the time I did it, but whilst spending vast amounts of time on the wide stretches of the African Savannah, re-opening these feelings, I knew it was a bad idea. Rushing in, causing havoc and making a ruckus, my mind almost exploded and I knew that this would have to be dealt with. ‘Cause you never get to put a lid back on Pandora’s Box… Or so the myth goes.

For the first day or two, I just sat and let every small and possible feeling rush over me. Have it be a flicker of hope that he might still be alive, a inch of courage that I might finally be okay, sadness for the fact that he is not here anymore or depression for the timely death he chose to do unto himself… These feelings became my new best friends as I continued along the stretches of road ahead of me. As I discovered Namibia, I discovered new facets to my grief.

After the dust settled, I started dissecting everything. Okay… Maybe over-analyzing it. But I faced the cold hard fact that these emotions needed to be dealt with.

Some emotions lead to realisations of his death. Things, that at the time of his death, I was not able to see clearly. It hit me square in the gut, to be honest.
While thinking I could not be shocked even more by the situation surrounding his suicide, it hit hard to realise that he for instance dropped more than just once that he was thinking of suicide and that he was getting to a point where he was making sure we were looked after and equipped to remotely deal with him not being around anymore. I would say this worsened my guilt about him dying and I had to stop at the side of the road and get out at some point to breathe.

As I stood by the side of the road, I stared over the mountains and the sky. Trying to calm myself. It was a stretch of gravel roads between farms, in the middle of nowhere and I just stood soaking up the silence. Whilst standing like that, a wild fox came out the bushes on the side of the road and sniffed around. When he saw me panting at the car, he stood still. I stood still. We stood still. I caught his eyes and he caught mine. For a good minute we stared at each other. One stressing over the sight of a predator and survival, the other craving survival over a wave of grief.

What happened next might sound crazy. At the risk of sounding crazy, please don’t judge me.

It was as if the dark, storm clouds in my head disappeared and made space for one single thought. Stop wasting energy on trivial matters and put yourself in his shoes…

The thought reverberated through my head. Hard. I saw the fox still staring at me. Maybe it was some act of God or gods? Maybe it was just a force of nature. But I had a silent guide to show me what to do with these feelings and emotions. The fox, after a while, just swept his head to the side again and went on with his merry way.

As I got back into the car, I felt a lot more collected and calm. I started to think on all the energy I had wasted the past months fretting over the people and factors leading to his death, all the negatives that came out after he passed and the bad that was around while he was still alive. How I was clinging onto that and making sure I never forget that, was astounding to me…

It wasn’t till I got back to South Africa, that I was reminded about putting myself in his shoes. Driving home one afternoon, listening to one of R’s all time favourite artists, Tracy Chapman, a song of her came onto my Ipod. Fast Car. In that moment, I felt a lot of R through her lyrics and suddenly found me putting myself in his shoes.

Thinking how the depression must have crept onto him and how it must have remotely felt to start thinking suicide would hurt less than living on this earth.

What it might mean to lose sight of who you are, what you are doing on Earth and the ridiculous standards people hold you to at certain times.

When making a small mistake snowballs into one huge escalated spiral of mishaps and wrongdoings, and when you have a moment of sanity and clarity you realise what you were doing and the guilt wracks you.

Then deciding that rather cutting out your heart metaphorically would be better, rather to be tortured every waking moment with feelings you can’t deal with.

I suddenly understood him a bit better. The questions I still had, seemed to be irrelevant now. The anger and hatred for him, slipping through cracks of light. More understanding and compassion making its way into the dusky room.

So, 11 months down the path of grief, I have somehow come to a point where I can sit down at a poker table with death, depression, loss, understanding as well as the almighty zen and face the three of them all at once, knowing I have enough strength to do this. If you asked me 11 months ago if I EVER saw myself at this point, a teary eyed shell of a man would have said the chance of dying of a broken heart would’ve been more of a reality than this. Yet, here I am.

At some point, unloading baggage from your shoulders to clear space is not such a bad thing. It should be a time in a moment where you can reflect on life for a tiny bit, and grow from what it is trying to teach you.