Late Saturday afternoon I went out to sit on our stoop and do a bit of journaling. The light warm breeze reminded of childhood summers and I closed my eyes. Different memories flashed by like a slide show. Just silly things. Shelling peas with my Gram and brothers on our farm. Swimming with my friend Karen Marie and cousin Carol. Running around Aunt Janet and Uncle Jim’s backyard with sparklers at a fourth of July picnic. My dad grilling chicken and hotdogs. Helping my mom can peaches.
Lovely memories, yet I found myself tearing up and then hit by an unexpected tsunami of grief. I tried to write it out but couldn’t. And to be honest I didn’t want to grieve right then. I didn’t want to feel that pain right then. I had just wanted to enjoy a summer afternoon. On my stoop.
But the truth is I haven’t allowed myself to grieve my brother’s death much. I did in December when he died and some in January as we cleaned out his apartment but after that I’ve pretty much kept a tight rein on grief.
I had papers to fill out and things to deal with to get assigned as the executor of his will-less estate. Once I received that court appointment, I’ve had a ton of things to deal with. And every financial institution and company I’ve dealt with has said: “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “Please accept our condolences” and it was just white noise to me. White noise. I had a job to do.
But it snuck up on my yesterday. And the grief of Dave’s death brought with it all the others—my mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles, cousins—a family reunion of people I will never see again this side of heaven. It broke my heart all over again, but I pulled back. I didn’t want to deal with it right then.
Many of us have been here. Are here. The older we get, the more loved ones are going to die.
And this will happen. Unexpectedly. The tsunami. And I’ve realized the best thing I can do, we can do, is ride the wave. We may slip under the water from time to time. Struggle to get back on top, but it’s best not to put off grieving for too long.
So the next day, after church, I chose to feel the pain. Chose to grieve. To accept that I will never again see my brother in this life. Or hear his laugh. Listen to his zany ideas. Taste his cooking. Feel his hug.
Over the years we were close and then not close for a bit and thankfully close again at the end. Thirty-six hours before his death he’d eaten salmon and broccoli and was feeling good and glad the doctors had a diagnosis that was not only treatable but curable.
Miss you bro.