I’ve Given All My Love Away, Now I Need It Back
The first time I experienced losing someone I was eight-years-old. My spiritual Godmother, who attended the church I grew up in and prayed for me as if I were one of her own, passed away of complications from having diabetes. When I found out that she had passed, I didn’t understand the concept of death. How could someone close to me be here one day and “gone” the next? I was confused and heartbroken that I’d never get to see her again without a true understanding as to why.
As I got older it seemed like death plagued people close to me. My first cousin Brandon, who I loved like a big brother, sadly took his own life when I was twelve. My mother’s boyfriend, who I called my stepfather, passed away from a heart attack that same year. At 15, I witnessed my neighbor, Bryant, lose his life in a car accident. That same year, my friend Preston was shot and killed only four days after we last hung out. At 16, I lost my Godfather. At 17, a classmate I grew up with and was close to, Scotty, passed away from a car accident and my grandfather passed a few months later. Not too long after my grandfather passed, I lost my dad.
Left to Right: Preston Angelo and myself; Scotty Wayne; my dad and I.
Death has surrounded my life to say the least.
After losing my dad, I was emotionally exhausted. I had lost so many people who meant so much to me back-to-back that I just couldn’t deal. Yet, I didn’t allow myself to grieve any of the losses I experienced. I didn’t give myself enough time to cry or heal. Instead, I decided to pour love into others who had suffered losses of people close to them. Even after losing my great-grandmother and my close friend and fraternity brother, Marveo, from cancer, I made sure everyone else was okay.
Marveo and I
Not grieving could be something I learned from my Granny. She always taught me to love on people because if you do, they will remember and be there for you. “Give and it shall be given unto you” is what she said to me constantly.
I worried about everyone else and their healing process before I worried about my own.
When my Granny went on to be with the Lord last month, I had reached my breaking point. Finally, all the losses I never grieved came crashing down into one single moment when I saw my Granny laying in her bed breathless and when they took her body to the funeral home. I broke down not just because my Granny was no longer on earth but also for every other person I had lost up until her passing.
The Johnson Girls. My Granny, my Momma, and myself.
If I’m being quite honest, my Granny’s death has been by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure. Losing her was and is still devastating. She was the only grandparent I knew. Meaning, she was the only grandparent who was in my life since the day I was born and who was consistent. I spent so much time with her at church growing up that I couldn’t walk away from my faith if I tried. Although my Granny and I disagreed on a lot of things, she was very much one of my best friends. Even with her dementia sometimes getting the best of her, she never forgot me. Up until the day she died, she still knew I was her granddaughter. For that, I’m so grateful.
This past month has been the hardest. Not just because I miss my Granny but because I’ve quickly had to learn that people don’t always pour love into you after you’ve done it for them time and time again. Now, I understand everyone doesn’t know how to deal with death or how to respond to someone going through a devastating loss. But if it’s one thing I’ve learned from my Granny is that you have to love people anyway as well as reach out and speak life into them so they know you care, even if you don’t fully understand.
Realizing that some of my “friends” didn’t say anything or haven’t checked in on me has been a hard pill to swallow. I thought the same courtesy I bestowed upon others would be bestowed upon me. And that wasn’t and hasn’t been the case. I’m not looking for sympathy nor do I want people to “check in on me” now that she’s gone. I have the right people who haven’t stopped loving on me.
I gave all my love away by worrying about others before myself.
I never allowed myself to grieve at all. Now, I’m taking my time and I honestly cannot give anymore love. I just don’t have any. I need the love I gave poured back into me. Until my heart is whole again, I have to be selfish and selective about who I let in.
It’s not easy dealing with death. I’ll probably always carry the weight of losing my Granny and others for the rest of my life. But what I won’t do anymore is expect too much from people who just haven’t proven their loyalty. Loving people anyway shouldn't mean I have to be brokenhearted.
Continue to rest easy, Granny. I know you’re somewhere getting your praise on.