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In 2013, I witnessed death for the first time.
I woke up like any other morning, next to my partner, whom we’ll refer to as Xavia. I went to use the bathroom and noticed it was locked and a light was lit inside.
Her sister, we’ll call her Hope, was staying with us and worked nights, so I figured it was her and decided to come back later.
I went back to bed and woke up two hours later, only to realize that the door was still locked and the light still on.
My concern grew as I knocked, asked for her, and realized she wasn't answering.
Eventually, I woke my partner, and we both worked to break open the door. When we did, we saw Hope lying face-down on the bathroom floor. Xavia called 911, while I checked for a pulse, only to find that her body was cold and pale, her lips a dull blue.
We both knew she was gone.
The ambulance arrived, as we still wanted to rush her to the hospital, holding on to a last sliver of hope that maybe she could still be revived.
From there, my memory takes me back in smaller moments, each memory a searing point in time that changed everything that happened after.
Soon, her father and stepmother arrived, not knowing what had happened. We told them to come to the hospital, but did not want to tell them something so traumatic while they were en-route.
My memory takes me back, again, in beats - slowed down, and rushed all at the same time.
The ensuing months were the hardest I’ve seen any person go through: the loss of appetite, late night discussions, the onslaught of tears, feelings of depression, of denial, of blame, of guilt.
Hope had overdosed on heroin in our bathroom early that morning, mere hours before I first awoke. She had been clean for months, fresh out of rehab, and was staying with us to help her get back on her feet.
All of us felt the guilt.
Deep down, we all know she was her own woman and the choices she made were ultimately her own, but grief doesn't let us off the hook that easy.
For many of us, losing a loved one is something we’re given time to process and prepare for. For things like old age or slow illnesses, there is a timeline. There is an expectation. There is mental preparation.
Slowly, the truth of the situation makes itself known.
It isn’t easy. It isn’t supposed to be. All in all, though, you’re given time to at least accept the reality of the loss, to armor yourself psychologically, and have those memories as a farewell collection of sorts.
With Xavia and her family, there was no preparation.
What was last given to them was a text that she was driving to Philly, and that she’d be back by morning. It was a simple voice message you’d leave your sister giving her an update the evening prior.
Then 24 hours later, they cease to be. It’s something that you can’t wholly accept long term. Not right then. Not yet.
In the moment, you know what's happening.
But then, days pass. Next, weeks. Finally, months.
You realize she isn’t just on a vacation, or an extended trip, or even in a coma, or in hospice. You can’t still go see her face, hold her hand and just be next to her.
She’s really gone. Just like that, gone.
I don’t say any of this to glorify or fetishize such a situation. I say these things because I felt and witnessed them in real time for years.
Because it’s not as simple as saying goodbye before they close their eyes one last time, or take their last breath, or feel their heart give one last jolt.
Your goodbye and closure is ripped from you, your family, and your friends.
You’re left there to figure out how to mend this hole that you’ve never had before, that you were given no time to pad or cushion. A hole you didn’t even know to brace yourself for.
You’ll want to numb yourself, because the pain is immense. It’s a lot like a physical injury or wound, except that you know, even in those early days, that it won’t heal, it won’t ever go away.
It’s a lifelong scar, so carved into your very mind that it changes your very being. A scar that burns like the day you got it every time you:
I was there for all the flashbacks, the PTSD breakdowns from the most mundane seeming things that touched that scar, the one not quite yet healed.
Many folks are able to eventually come to terms with the reality of loss, though we never truly get over it.
That’s not my story. At least not yet. For some of us, we can’t come to terms because we loved her so deeply that we cannot bear the thought of her not being here.
How do you heal the deeper tissue damage of those scars when it hurts so bad to even touch the surface with the smallest of memories?
For me, I’ve tried so hard to to block it all out.
When I first heard about Eterneva last year, all of this came flooding back.
My initial interest with the company was financial, purely based on the position they were hiring for, as it was perfectly suited to my talents.
But then, I looked at the website, the company itself and what their true mission was.
I learned about Adelle and her wanting to do this to honor her close friend and mentor Tracey, about what they wanted to do for others, and how it isn’t about just growing a memorial diamond from the physical remains of someone.
We can immortalize them by having something that shines just like their eyes did.
Eterneva is about the journey of confronting our pain, the hole we were left with from their loss, and slowly being able to share our memories, knowing that when that fire bursts across our body, when that pain surges back, we’re not alone.
That evening when I wrote my cover letter for Eterneva and submitted my application, I kept thinking: “I wish I could’ve done this for Xavia, for her family, so that Hope isn't just in an urn buried in a cemetery thousands of miles away. So that she could be with them everyday in some small form.”
Many years have passed, and Xavia and I have gone our separate ways in life. She was fortunate enough to find a community that helped her heal as she needed.
So many of us, though, aren't that lucky. We haven’t found our means of healing and moving forward.
This is why I love this company so much, and why I take immense pride and joy in what I do.
As humans, we are storytellers. Throughout our existence we’ve told tales of incredible individuals and creatures who’ve captivated us with their feats, and given us comfort and joy through their love and sacrifice.
I want to help those stories be told, those legacies be remembered, those folks be immortalized.
I want those who’ve been left without that closure to be able to have a brilliant, shining reminder of their loved one, that they can look at, be asked about, and that can spark a conversation of why they deserve to be remembered, and how loved they made them feel.
In closing, during my time here at Eterneva, I’ve learned first hand how much this journey and a memorial diamond can help folks through their roughest times. It brings to mind one of my favorite verses from a beloved Paramore song of mine:
“It’s just a spark, but it’s enough, to keep me going And when it’s dark out, and no one’s around, it keeps glowing”
Folks, let’s keep our loved ones glowing with us, forever.
Our information pack contains an Eterneva brochure, process FAQ, and guide to diamond pricing. Our team is also here to help with anything & everything.
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