A bunch of us at BC wear maroon bracelets on our wrists to remember our dear and loved friend, Michael Racanelli. Mike Rac, “Rac” to some, is remembered as a loving, accepting, kind and quirky, unique, talented, adventurous and spontaneous, fun-loving person. Although towards the end of his time here he was in a dark place, he still cared about his friends so much.
I remember one night (well technically I don’t, you guys remember how I used to drink); Mike walked me home from 29 Sutherland—two blocks away from our apartment on Ayr Rd. While I was pretty belligerent, I could have found my way home. Sure, I probably would have taken a detour that even I couldn’t explain; but he made sure I was safe. Mike’s closest friends know best, but that was just one thing typical of the kind of person he was.
All of us look back on his life with love, some sadness because we all miss him and appreciation that we were able to know him. Those bracelets are nice because every time I look down I think of him even though I think we all see and feel him everyday.
Important people, like Mike, stay in our hearts forever. When we lose them, it is unbelievably hard. Your first loss comes with a wave of emotions: disbelief, confusion, curiosity, love, anger and (often) guilt, among many other feelings that are almost indescribable. Much like every person in our hearts is unique, every loss after that first one is relatable to other’s losses, but even more so—it is very different.
Many think that when a long road of hardship and sadness preludes death, when it is expected, one becomes prepared for the loss. But even then, I believe loss is such a sudden change that we don’t know how to respond. Every loss leaves a gaping hole in our hearts. But over time, we learn to fill that with remembrance, love and appreciation.
Sometimes we don’t even realize how much people mean to us. Many times, life post-loss is unimaginable. And other times memories of our loved one instantaneously live on every moment. My point is: life is a delicate thing and when we lose people who are in our lives we all assimilate and accommodate to make sense of the loss. We all try to move on in our own ways.
In many cultures, grief is considered to be a lifelong struggle. In others, grief is to be felt and expressed emotionally and physically for a short time and then stoically expressed mentally. In all cultures, death inevitably brings grief, but in some cultures, people are encouraged to be happy that the deceased have moved on.
For example, the Day of the Dead is an important celebration in Mexico which embraces, rather than stigmatizes, death. Some people have no doubt that they will see their loved ones soon. In my opinion, all I can have is faith—that I will see the people I have lost. And I also hope that after this short time on this Earth, my soul will be able to live on because, frankly I have become quite attached to it.
From their new album, The Carpenter, The Avett Brothers encapsulate an very optimistic outlook on life in this song appropriately titled “Life".
I can’t reiterate enough how hard death and the repercussions of it are, but I ask you to have faith and a promise to find ways to help the memories live on. We all had our ways of making sense of losing Mike, but he proved to me that other people hurt, most likely feel similar feelings and have similar thoughts.
One way we can attempt to help each other through dark moments in our life is opening up to others. Put yourself out there. I know it has become hard for us to make ourselves vulnerable, but we are older and more mature now. If someone doesn’t accept what you have to say (or if they respond with a sassy comment), then maybe they aren’t ready to accept their own feelings. But it definitely meant a lot to them that you tried. After all, we are human.
I need to stop stealing things from The Avett Brothers, but it’s not necessarily plagiarism because it is known that with this paradise we create for ourselves, also comes a little bit of hell. But, easier said than done, I urge you to take the pain you feel with a little smile.
Remember the good. Appreciate the bad because we all have it. Accept that there is no ugly. This life is beautiful, and whatever comes after it is even more beautiful. Our lost loved ones may be physically gone from our lives, but they are still looking out for us. They are warming up those blue skies; they are making those sunny days.
I intended for those to be my final words; but, it’s funny, I just stood up, stretched, and looked out the window. The rainy, gloomy skies that welcomed October 12th have passed. Now, the sun is shining and the sky is as blue as it gets.