I’ll be honest, this week has been awful so far. My oldest aunt passed away on Sunday afternoon. While I am relieved her husband and one of her children was able to be with her in the end, because of COVID, she spent too many weeks alone, not understanding why. One day there will be a reckoning for the selfish and careless who did nothing to keep this virus at bay. I’m sad, I’m angry, and I hurt for my family who has to navigate what would normally be devastating in itself and now all the rules are different and the norms are thrown out the window.
On top of that, tomorrow would be my older brother’s 55th birthday, so I face tomorrow, as I always do, with mixed emotions, and fresh grief piled on top. Grief is grief. Grief is also different at the beginning and the middle, and grief is different for everyone who experiences it. No one, and I mean no one, should tell another how they should grieve. Yet, I encourage people to feel their way through their grief and not avoid it, no matter how much time has passed – one hour, or forty-two years.
Sometimes, I can’t wrap my brain around time. It’s been almost twenty years since I last heard my brother’s voice or saw his face but measured in feelings, it feels like yesterday. Grief has no expiration date. I used to think it should have a date where it didn’t hurt anymore, or sneak up out of left field and surprise me, but now I know that will be impossible. Where those minutes and years and feelings and time collide, there is a reminder that I was loved by a brother who also teased and tortured and supported me like most brothers do.
If I try to bypass the convergence of grief, triggered by whatever it just so happened to be that day, I miss out on memories, on reminders of silly or lighthearted moments that grief can never take away.
Throw in 2020 and all of its emotional landmines, and sometimes it’s the perfect storm of emotion. Still, I’ve learned to look at grief as a gift – grief leads me back to people I miss, to moments I cherish, to reminders that make me smile, even through tears.
Happy birthday, Scott. You are missed.