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  • Writer's pictureMark Stefan Reinoso


"Where are all the good people dead: In the heart? Or in the head?" - Debi Newberry My Grandmother died a few months ago. I hadn't spoken to her in 5 years.

I loved my grandmother, incredibly so. She was such a big part of my life, in all the ways that grandparents should be. She married my Grandfather, Zene, when I was 8 years old, and to me, she was my grandmother. I think she felt the same. Grandma and Grandpa had a wonderful life together, and I was there to witness and enjoy so many parts of it. My Grandfather died in 2015, devastating me. In many ways he was like my father, but less intense, as grandfathers normally are. I remember, at the funeral, feeling very close to my relatives, and I'm pretty sure that's normal. Deaths (should) give us pause to process the myriad emotions of our intertwined lives, and those emotionally intense moments pull the survivors together. After the service, I remember hugging my grandmother, saying goodbye. It wasn't incredibly tearful, or poignant. It wasn't a moment that froze in time for me, it was like I was hugging my grandmother after any normal dinner, that I was going to see her tomorrow. Except I didn't see her the next day, or the next. I never saw her again. I don't have a definitive reason as to why I never saw her or called her. There was no bad blood, no hurt feelings. Oh sure, I sent her postcards, to let her know I was thinking of her. But I didn't send her letters, I didn't call her on my way to work, I didn't call her daughter to see how she was doing. In many ways, she ceased to become an integral part of my life. She became a family member in the abstract, like the wilderness: you rarely visit, but still you're glad it exists. Maybe it was that she moved from the family homestead, maybe I tied her into my feelings for my grandfather, or maybe I just became an asshole. I don't know..... Perhaps I just got stuck. It's been said than humans are creatures of habit, and everyone in the world is a testament to that. On a basic, human level, people keep their same hairstyles, same house, job, car, drink, recipes, routines, spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, old friends. In many ways it's comforting to see people doing the same thing, living in the same house, keeping the same relationships. That's the kind of "stuck" that makes people feel good. It's the constancy that makes us feel that all is right with the world. But what about the negative kind of stuck? The kind of "stuck" that's vacuous, that hurts people, or simply turns people away....sins of omission. That's the stuck that changes us in an ugly way. I've seen vibrant, exciting people become shadows of themselves. Outgoing and spontaneous people get so anxious that they inexorably become control freaks. I've witnessed family members not talk to each other for decades and friends stop talking to each other for no reason. What? Why? I'll add: habits can be good, bad and downright ugly. Not reaching out to someone you have history with, someone that you love, is UGLY. It's a sin. A sin against your own humanity. I think that the very things we crave, are the very things that can do us in. We want stability, we want safety, we want CONTROL. So we do the same things every day, have the same job, take the same route on our walks, never deviating from our every norm. We plan everyday meetups like we are invading Normandy. Our lives become more and more insipid, and the most dull day then becomes the baseline. We want consistency and stability, we want to create a box of normalcy... but what we end up getting isn't a box. It's a coffin: we're dead while still alive. Being "stuck" is an emotional status, but it always translates to the physical. You don't call your friends, you don't meet up with them. You can't leave the house. You can't make a decision. You don't visit people you love. Being "Stuck" is the worst kind of inaction. It makes you less human.

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