Aubrey Barnes: Life and Death is Hard.

(Photo courtesy of Aubrey Barnes)

Editor’s Note: This piece makes reference to death, grief, and issues related to mental health. If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Text or call 988 to chat with someone now or click this link for other options.

He asked, “Is that Your Brother on Your phone screen?
I said, 
He asked, “Why do You have Him as Your phone screen?”
I said,
“He Died.”

The week of January 23rd of 2022. Grief has a way of altering time. Last month can feel like a quarter of a year away. Sometimes, if we’re aware enough, can snap our Selfs out of the Autopilot and realize that there is a Part of us Running too God damn fast. As if a part of us is trying to escape something. 

I know, or better yet assuming, that though as human beings, we are all going to feel ‘human things,’ there’s a curse that makes us as men feel that urge to run a little faster than others. I think about patriarchy, and how He taught us how to run from our strongest Parts of Our Selfs cuz we are told it is “weak.”

To admit that the Heaviness of Loss has a way of shaking our foundation, means to give our Selfs into Opening our Selfs. To Open our Selfs means to submit our Selfs to Grief’s force. To let Tears Fall, though Fear tells us to flex. Punch a wall. Be Hard on Self. Cuz Being Soft is Dangerous to the Image we Built our Selfs into. Though deep down we Know it ain’t us. 

He asked,
“So, You’re saying though Death is bad, Livings Worst?”
I said,
“They neither Good nor Bad; 
sometimes they happen at the Same time, 
kind of like Giving Birth.”

Grief has been that Force that broke me outta that proverbial “Shell.” Not to say that the Shell still does not have Relevancy in my Life. One of the Protective Factors we’re taught to Trust in, having many Forms, is Finding Refuge in that Shell when Energy around us is Threatening to our Peace. What Patriarchy teaches us, is to hide behind that Shell as if it is You. Keeping You from the Realest Part of You.

That Realest Part of Me, Knows that giving My Self the Permission to Cry is Healing. That Realest Part of Me, Knows that to Avoid that Call means to Distract My Self in the most detrimental ways. Through Busyness. Through Drank. Through Smoking. Through Running. The Realest Part of Me, Knows that such a game to keep up an Illusion is much more exhausting than Giving into the Urge to Fall Apart. And Trust that Imma be Caught by Some One. 

I asked,
“Grief is a Hard Mirror to look at, You gone Be ready for that day you have to face it?”
He Said,
“Prolly not, but imma still try to Embrace it.”
I Said,
“That ain’t so Confusing.”

I wrote this poem for my next book titled, “Convo bout Death wit Sixth Grader,” that I only Share when I Feel the Energy is Right, and it is Needed. I feel like, as Art is, that Poem is for Me more than most, yet I have the Honor to Share it wit People who I Believe, or dangerously Assume, are tempted wit the allure to Run like I do, from Grief. Whether Loss of Life. Loss of Friend. Loss by Death. Loss by Distance. Though we Know its Healing, Transforming in some way, we are Running for some reason. I hope that narrative such as that one, such as this one, be a testament to those running,

                                                That we can Stop. That we can Feel. That we can Fall Apart.
And have Faith that someone will Catch us.

Rock Island, Illinois native Aubrey Barnes, also known as “Aubs,” is a poet, spoken word artist, author, battle rap artist, emcee, educator, and podcast host of Black Thoughts Podcast.