The atmosphere in Wrigleyville seemed weird and off-kilter. Every sports network seemed to be talking about The Big Sell Off, and in that particular neighborhood there was no getting around it. I walked past a popular mural of Kris Bryant, simultaneously chastising myself for getting emotional. When I shared about it two days later, I was teased for acting like someone had died. And while no one had, the past two days had me thinking of someone close to me that did. Back in 2016, I came down to Wrigley Field (after the Cubs had won the World Series) to stick a note on one of the brick walls in his honor. And since that era has officially come to an end, I found myself wondering how he would have felt about it. What he would think. And I hated having to wonder instead of ask.
A few months prior I couldn’t sleep, my surroundings unfamiliar. I thought of his little sister’s upcoming wedding and all the ways he could be honored during the occasion. “Together Again” by Janet Jackson played like a loop and I felt the tears before I could register the specific emotion. It wasn’t long before the sniffles became muffled sobs, and I had to bite my lip so I wouldn’t be heard. What’s up with you, woman?! You were euphoric a half hour ago.
It wasn’t as much sadness as it was vulnerability. One of the many waves I’ve experienced in the last five years.
More recently, I was watching a documentary about the life and music of Eric Clapton. He had lost a young son with the same name. And there I was, bawling until my tear ducts had nothing left to give.
And I suppose that’s just one of the facets of grief; the outpouring of love that you feel like cannot give because that person isn’t physically present. It happens when a memory pops into my head, one that I haven’t thought about in a while. Or I’ll start making correlations between songs, movies, little things that don’t immediately register but hit me later.
There is something about losing someone so young and so suddenly that can only be expressed from the deepest parts of me. I’m not afraid to weep, and I weep to this day because it still seems surreal. Wait, this actually happened? This wasn’t just a bad dream?
My saving grace has been the way so many that I’ve grown up with came together to celebrate his life, and still do to this day. I’ve experienced a similar loss before and didn’t mourn openly, and it led to near disastrous outcomes. It’s easy to say that everyone has different ways of coping, but to go on as if someone didn’t exist, to never mention their name again, that seems almost unfathomable to me. I give thanks that while Connor’s body is not here on earth, his memory and his spirit continuously live on. I see it in my hometown, which I have a different appreciation for compared to a decade ago. I see it in the things he loved, from hunting and fishing to the different bodies of water he spent his days on. I see it in the color green, and in country music. I remember his laugh, his smile, and his sense of humor.
I knew that fun side of him, but one regret that keeps showing up was that I never got to truly know his heart (or at least we never sat down and had one of those deep conversations).
I wish he could tell me somehow that he’s okay, and that he’s been reunited with those who went after he did.
My anger has never been at God, but at the way the rest of the world seems to keep turning while trying to deal with the fact that this has impacted me without words to describe. Even as we’re still going through a pandemic and death is common, many of us hold grudges, live with hardened hearts, or don’t think before speaking, as if it could be the last time. Conflict should not be avoided at all costs, but discussion and resolution should always come from a place of love, regardless if those involved see eye to eye or not.
I wrestle with that on a daily basis. That and wanting to tell certain people I love them without making it weird.
I miss you Connor, now and always.
I know you’re here in some ways, and until we meet again.