I don’t know how to write. I’ve tried to write this several times and I end up with meaningless words on a page. I miss my brother. I wasn’t a huge part of his life in recent years. He knew I cared about him, and he sometimes liked the postcards I sent every week, but we weren’t hugely close.
For the moment, it’s baby steps to get through the void.
We were planning a trip to see family soon. I wanted to see him and my older brother again, to talk to them, to get a picture of the two of them, to get a hug from him. We were good at hugs, fierce ones, ones that made you feel like you belonged in someone’s heart. We had a lot of silly special things, and all of them make me cry right now. I can’t give him any more hugs. Somehow hugging an urn with his ashes just isn’t the same. I can’t help making stupid jokes, making myself laugh even when I’m crying. I can’t get through the dark without laughing.
It is dark. I mean, it’s night as I’m writing this, so that’s a given. Even during the day, though, even when it’s brighter than I want it to be, I don’t feel like it’s light. I feel like everything is grey, dry, desiccated, lifeless. I put on my public face and everyone thinks I’m fine, and then I come home and curl up and wait for it to get better.
I put some books on hold in the library, ways to get through grief. I bought another that might help with the physical issues, since I am still physically hurting a lot. I want to do something incredibly stupid. I want to go hit someone, start a fight, make something make an impact, but I know on some level it won’t help. I go back to what I know. I will study, work through it, talk, cry my eyes out. Once in a while I’ll get tipsy and let out some of the anger that won’t come with my barricades as high as they are now. I know I should be able to get through this.
Should. I’m not sure.
I saw my family when we went to Arizona. I’m glad I got to see them – it’s hard not being completely sure everyone is actually getting through this. My sister was too busy to come by, as is often the case. We missed her presence. Maybe next time. My brother’s caretaker spent some time talking with me about Daniel, and that helped. Having memories to share is important.
We saw my husband’s family, too. They were loving and welcoming and helped me talk through some of the pain. They even liked Nyx, who, while she was trying to be good, still couldn’t resist a running cat at one point and took off like a rocket. It was pretty funny, and the cat was fine, if spooked. We went hiking in the heat. I am definitely not a desert rat – I was exhausted and sweating.
My brother was the heart of my family, and that heart has been torn out and extinguished. We don’t seem to know how to handle it. I’m not sure anyone really wants to move forward without him in some ways. I know I don’t. Thinking about him always made me smile. I knew I could make him laugh even from another state, even just passing messages to him, and it made life better to know that chortle was there. It isn’t now.
I don’t have the same loss as the family that was with him or his caretaker who loved him, too. I was not an integral part of his life. At the same time, my grief is still real, palpable, physical, painful, dreadful. I don’t sleep well. I wake up crying some nights, waking to the dog trying to climb into bed next to me to help me calm down. I wake up to pain. My heart skips beats. My stomach and back cramp, my legs hurt, my feet send stabs of pain first thing in the morning. Any old injuries ache.
I am supposed to be strong. I am supposed to get through this. I am supposed to be able to weather the storm and be able to come out better on the other side. At the moment, there is no other side. Now I am walking in the dark, bumping into pain whenever I move. I can’t find joy. Laughter, sometimes, but not those sparks of pure delight that I’ve always been able to find before. There is a pall over my world.
I’m looking for a therapist. I may go to a support group meeting for people who have had a sibling die, as long as it isn’t god-focused. I don’t think I can handle another person telling me that there is reason in this, that god has a plan, because if that plan involves killing off one of the best people in my life, then I really hope that particular god rots in the worst imaginable hell. See? Just a tad bit angry some of the time.
I know that no one knows what to say. It isn’t something you come across on a regular basis. Grandparents die. Parents die, eventually. Siblings, though, shouldn’t. Parents should not have to deal with the death of a child. Should, however, is not something that matters. This happened. My brother is dead. I don’t know how I can get through this. I have had one good night’s sleep in almost a month, now, and I’m exhausted. I’m sad and angry and listless and lost.
I can’t make this better. I can’t make Daniel not dead anymore. I can’t stop crying at weird times. I can’t sleep. I can’t stop hurting.
So I walk. One step at a time, I move forward. I’ll start swimming again, because I can push through water and it helps the pain. I’ll walk Nyx, and maybe we’ll run a little. I’ll grieve and try to let myself exist without judgement. I’ll read books and try to learn how other people have come through this overwhelming loss. I will try to stop telling myself what I should do, how I should be able to get through this, and just be. I’m not good at not overthinking everything, but I don’t think I have a choice here.
I have always been able to make it through, even if I’m slow at it. I can’t think fast or move fast right now. I am pinned by lead weights, walking through sand. There is no right way to go, no way to fix this, no way to remove the pain. Maybe in a few months I will be able to sleep again. That would be good. Maybe I will stop hurting. That would be good, too. Maybe I will have energy and curiosity and joy in my life, eventually. For now, I just have to not stop existing. I’ll wake up tomorrow and do what I have to do, and maybe I’ll take a nap. Maybe I’ll watch silly TV. Maybe I’ll find something that serves as a rope for me to hold for that next step.
I don’t know. I can’t see in the dark.