I remember that day. I remember falling to the floor. I remember who I called, and in what order. I remember the slowing of time, and the acute numbness that overtook my psyche. I remember not being able to think, and Jessi telling me to just breathe.
I remember Dad telling me to go to mom. I remember walking in, and seeing her for the first time, neither of us able to stand the sight of one another for fear of our worst nightmare coming true. I remember Amanda, and Megan, and Mike. I remember.
I remember that week. I remember saying goodbye for the last time, the impossibility of your corpse lying right in front of me. I remember the adrenaline, the inability to lie still and rest without cause. I remember running and my legs doing what they do without a prompt or cue. I remember the texts, the calls, the baskets.
I remember going through photos. I remember the call from the doctor. The anger. And I remember your service. The swarms of people. The line. The crowd.
I remember not being able to open my eyes as we sat before your urn. The impossibility of reality coming over me like a hurricane, my guttural sobs as we were asked to leave – with you in a fucking box.
It is 7 months today, baby bro. To say we have moved on is ridiculous. To watch the rest of the world complain about their petty inconveniences, hear their cries about inconsequential drama, learn of their self-absorption and demise makes me so grateful our family is here together, despite the reason why. We still harness a hole that cannot be filled; a hole I thankfully haven’t even tried to fill because I know I cannot.
I cry at every meeting, caught with the notion of what could have been for you had you wanted it to be for you. I cry knowing this is real, and I still don’t understand how. I cry because you are my little brother, forever, no matter what. I cry because there is nothing I could have done, and still nothing I can do, and I wish that wasn’t true.
I haven’t seen you in a couple of days, but I’ve also been looking for Bam. Are you together? Are you watching me? Are you playing and zooming and pretending to have more energy than you do? I have you two together now on my coffee table – my own little memorial for when I start my day.
I want you to know that while I am so heartbroken and sad, I am also OK. I’ve been told recently that I am strong in a dragon, badass sort of way. I dig that and know that it is true. I’m told I am strong by others, but I know what they mean, and it makes me so sad that much of the world leans toward a thought process that strong means immune to feeling and immune to vulnerability, that somehow being strong means you shouldn’t show your cards.
I am so grateful I have continued to show all of my cards, every day. I have not backed away from this. I have not backed away from you, or now Bam. I have not catered to hardening and closing when it would be so easy to do so. I have not backed away from my pain, my heartache, or my darkness. And I have also not backed away from the good. Amidst the horror that is grief, and the unlinear path it takes, I have so much love and joy. I have finally met someone you’d tell me to run away with immediately. I have allowed someone into my life who can see me, right here, now. I have allowed myself to stay open, and trust. I have slowed down and not replaced or filled or depleted. You’d be proud of my fitness and strength right now, and my work. It’s all together, and it’s all so not important compared to you, or Bam, or our family.
While I hate that you are gone, I thank you for teaching me what really matters. I thank you for reminding me to continue to slow down, and breathe.
I love you so much, baby bro. Please come visit soon.