To be honest, I’ve been crabby lately. Existence has not been happening as smoothly as it usually does. There have been bumps and sudden bouts of sobbing in inconvenient places. I’ve needed a lot of hugs and more quiet time than I’ve gotten.
This is mostly – but not solely – due to losing my youngest brother at the age of 33 from a fucking untreated bump on the head from a falling, fairly lightweight mirror.
See? The anger crops up. It typically comes hand-in-hand with shock.
They say after you lose someone unexpectedly, you need to adapt to the “new normal”. I’ve heard this phrase a lot since April 26. And, indeed, there is a weird transitioning that has been happening entirely against my will, shaking me up.
I’m currently losing more than just a brother. Maybe it would be easier if that was my only challenge. Maybe not, and this is the universe’s way of keeping me preoccupied so the grief doesn’t win.
I’m losing the vacation/mountain house my family has had since my oldest was a baby, a place with many memories soaked into the rooms and air, which my parents began trying to sell a year ago, but only found a buyer for almost immediately before my brother died. I’m losing my long-time best friend at work, who’s leaving this month on a possibly permanent maternity leave. I’m losing a lot of furniture, including my insanely comfortable (but small) bed. I’m losing my car, which I’ve also had since my oldest was a baby.
It feels like many things at once are slipping through my fingers, and I have no way to hold on.
Then I see my brother’s smiling face before me, or hear an echo of his exuberant laugh, and remember something he knew well – that there are bright sides to every misfortune.
I’m currently gaining a better relationship and closeness with my only remaining, living brother – something I’d secretly yearned for my whole life, with no real hope of ever getting it. You see, my brothers were always too close to let me in. Now the space that’s been left is agonizingly painful, so we’re trying to gather nearer to shrink it down to a manageable size.
I may be gaining a beach house if my parents (maybe? hopefully?) buy one of the ones they’ve been looking at. Because my friend at work is leaving, I’m being promoted even though I’m a part-time (but hard) worker. I’m gaining new furniture (and a bigger bed!) as my parents empty out the recently-sold mountain house. I’m gaining a new car for the first time in 11 years.
The sentimentality is what’s been getting me. I don’t want to let it all go. I’d do anything to keep things the way they were. Anything.
I’m still trying to figure out where my writing fits in with all of this. Some days, it’s only being able to write new chapters in new stories that gets me through a shitty day. Other days, it’s all I can do to show up at my day job, take care of my kids, and not fall apart. There is a lot in the pipeline. New stories are racing to the finish, whether I’m ready or not. My dear friends and readers, if I stumble and fail to keep up, all I can ask is for your patience and understanding that the ground isn’t quite steady under my feet yet.
We buried my brother’s ashes this past Friday morning. It was bright and beautiful. The core of my extended family gathered around his grave and got sunburned as we shared feelings, memories and poems.
This is the poem I read, which I feel is what my beloved brother would tell us now, if he could:
Death Is Nothing At All by Henry Scott-Holland
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed
At the little jokes we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!