I spoke before about how guilt has affected my life dramatically. This is the first part of a series of pieces about guilt and its effect on my life.
As a child i was lucky, I had all of my grandparents, infact I had 6 grandparents, I had a big family of aunts and uncles and cousins. The only time that the I was really hurt my the grim reaper was when my great uncle died, although I was very young and I don’t remember much about it, in fact. It hurts to say it, but I don’t really remember him, although I know he was an important part of my family life. I felt I was incredibly lucky to have a family so unscathed by the grim reapers death touch. I watched people around me, at school go to the funerals of their grandparents, or say they had never met their grandparents. It was difficult for me to comprehend. My best friend lost her grandfather and it was awful, he had been like a dad to her and I had no idea how to react. So I, didn’t I, didn’t mention it. I was 8.
When I finally took the step to start leaving my house and playing in the street I used to ride around the corner on my bike and play with my friends. There was a girl who lived at the bottom of my street, I was 11 she was 7, She always asked me to play football with her, but she wasn’t allowed to leave the street. I would always say “I will come back later” and I never did. I always made sure I didn’t go back until I knew she had gone into her house. I felt slightly guilty about this, but I wanted to play with my friends who were older than me, it made me feel cool. I felt like the leader of one of those cool American high school groups.
One day I left my house and she wasn’t there, I didn’t take much notice to be honest, I carried on riding my bike around the corner. One of the people I used to hang around with was her older cousin. She called me to the side and told me that the girl had died that morning of meningitis. I didn’t know what to say. I was shocked. I made my excuses to go home about an hour later and I told my mum.
It had already been a difficult week, a boy probably a year or so older than me (who also lived on my street, a small street of just 8 houses) had lost his dad just literally two days before this news had hit. When I went to bed that night I didn’t sleep, I was confused by it all, I wasn’t sure if I really believed it. I kept thinking “bad luck comes in threes” and I kept thinking the next person to die would be my mum, like the grim reaper comes to a street and kills a families worth of people.
I went to school the next day and handed a letter to my tutor that I would be attending a funeral the following week, she looked at me and said “I’m sorry for your loss” I felt guilty again. I was still unsure how I felt about the whole situation. And to make it worse, I kept thinking, what if I had just stayed and played one day. Would it have been that hard? Would it really have ruined my non existent street cred to play football with someone else for 40 minutes? Of course it wouldn’t have. But you don’t think kids are going to die, you don’t think anyone is going to die when you’re a kid. Especially, when you have yet to feel the pain of the grim reaper.
Do I still feel guilty about this situation? The answer is yes. I know its not my fault she died, but what does make me feel bad is that she lived for just 7 years, such a short amount of time I have already lived almost 4 times that. I could have made such a short life a little more enjoyable, but I chose to selfishly put myself first. This is something I would grow to see as a trend, when people close to me died.
The Elephant in the Room