Today marks two years since I lost my baby brother. Things are different now then they were when we first lost him. Different, not really better or worse. Time has started to blunt the horrible, gut-wrenching pain that was my life when he died. It has been replaced with a kind of deep, always-there-in-the-back-of-your-mind, kind of despair. I still do the things I did before, with the obvious exception of talking to my brother about every stupid little thing in my life. I smile, I sometimes laugh, I work on gardens and food forest, I plant trees, I make plans. Through it all I feel a little like a ghoul wearing a clown mask.
As I said, the sharpest pain is receding. Since the day he died, a weird condition has affected me. When my thoughts turn toward my brother, I can feel my mind spasm and clench down, slamming shut a door, like your eyes would if I blew a handful of dust into them. My mind tries to force me to look away, quickly, at anything, anyone, as long as I'm not thinking about J. I can push through it now for short periods, to try to remember him. It seems so strange to me. My mind rebels against thoughts of him, when forgetting him is the last thing I want. I still can't get past the idea that I will never see him again, and that thought brings back that terrible feeling that starts in my stomache and wraps around my heart like a vise.
My life is divided now to before-J, and after-J. My brother was young, and kind, and strong. He took those things with him when he left, and he took them from me as well, leaving me old, and weak, and frail. Things that were easy are hard, things that were hard, impossible. Maybe I just don't care enough any more to put forth the effort? It's very possible. Some days I feel like I'm just waiting to die. It's not that I want to. There are lots of things I still want to do first. I just don't care nearly as much as I used to.
My parents are older, in their seventies. They don't wear the mask as well as I do. Their unhappiness still shows through, no matter the situation. My mom especially struggles to get through her days, and I'm certain that she is just checking off days in her head, wishing for it to all be over. She would never end her life, simply because she wouldn't do that to the rest of us, but she is ready to be done. Done with hurt, with pain, with loss. She has been hurt so many times, I think she has just used up any energy she used to have to try to come back, to recover, to try to live life. Any strength she has left is used up trying to put on a happy face for the rest of us. She is as selfless a person as I have ever met.
I'm hoping writing this down will help. It's supposed to be cathartic. Personally, I'm calling bullshit.
If anyone has stuck with this this long, my only real message is the same as last year. Find the people you love, tell them, hold them. You never know when the last time will be.
I'm so sorry. I'm sure no amount of anyone's condolences could ever be helpful.
Thank you for being transparent with your grief. I'm sure we all would like to say something kind, but what words are there?
Praying for your family as you mark this awful day.
Trace, I'm so sorry for your loss. Those all sound like really tough feelings and I admire your being brave enough to share them. Your brother must have been a really special person. And even if you don't feel like it, you must have a lot of love and strength in you to have that intense of feels. Sending you all the hugs.
I hope you keep sharing what you're going through. We're not meant to go through these things by ourselves. You're not alone.
"The garden teaches us there is something we are all capable of doing. Only with something so small that can be in everyone's hand can we challenge the empire."
This may sound glib, but I think I would try to build something that my loved one would appreciate and would benefit the community. A trail, a bench at a favourite lookout, a community flower garden or vegetable garden, or perhaps a charity supporting their values. Something positive and productive that keeps his or her spirit and legacy alive, and gives hope to those who remember.
"Different" is a good way to describe it. The raw skin in salt feeling eases a bit, and the memories stop being a one-way path to that gut wrenching pain. The pain's still there, and the deep quiet despair. But it does get easier to touch the good memories again with time and practice.
It's been so hard watching our parents try to come to terms with her death.
I hear you.
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