When Great Trees Fall

As implied in the previous blog entry, I am currently battling severe depression. My father passed away on the 20th of August, plunging me deeper into an already fragile mental state (no thanks to the pandemic), and every day since the 20th has been about forcing myself to want to live.

I remember when I was in the same mental state back in 2014, I was under a psychiatrist-imposed suicide watch when my Papa told me: live for your loved ones. “I live for you and your siblings.” It was what prevented him from thoughts of self-harm when he was also fighting depression.

“But, I live for you, Papa,” I imagine talking to him every night since the 20th. “I live for YOU, but you’re no longer here.”

Honestly, I don’t have a clue as to how to get out of this nadir: it is affecting the way I work. It is affecting the way I deal with people.

There’s this one poem, though, that I keep reading over and over, and it has somehow comforted me. It was emailed to me by some of my close friends shortly after my dad died. The email and the poem feel like a warm hug from friends who couldn’t physically be with me (they live in other countries). It’s a poem by Maya Angelou titled “When Great Trees Fall.” I am sharing it here, just in case you, a random reader came across this blog and you happen to also be grieving. I hope this will also feel like a warm hug for you.

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance, fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of
dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

When Great Trees Fall by Maya Angelou
I love you, Papa. I miss you everyday.

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