Annabelle and "Dotda" on her first day of school
So this will be the first time in this place that I talk about my brother.
August and September are hard months now… they have been for the past four years.
Four years ago at 6am August 7, 2007 my parents called me to say that I had to come home to Minnesota, that Mitch had been in an accident and he wouldn’t be coming home. On September 15, 2007 his daughter Annabelle was born.
Every year is different with grief, each year it is something different that hits you. For me the first year was pure shock, the first year was devoted to the all-consuming grief, as Joan Didion so aptly puts it “The Year of Magical Thinking”. Then the second year it sinks in and life finds it’s way in the cracks and for brief moments I found myself smiling again, making plans for the future again, enjoying bits and pieces of my life, then it feels like from the third year on it is a random hit or miss thing. Things that used to bother me don’t, and the things I never thought would do… it makes it difficult to predict, and if you can’t predict you can’t control, which for someone who is learning to make peace with the fact that I liked to completely control my life makes me feel out of control and easily overwhelmed.
This translates into exhaustion and desperately wanting off the roller coaster ride of grief. And quite simply to be done, after all it has been four years, the tears have been cried, the milestones have been lived through, isn’t that enough. There are moments that it is too tiring and I am desperate to be completely healed, or just simply break… but instead I find myself in this middle place, in my own In-Between (and not the irony isn’t lost on me)… realizing how far I have come, but also being reminded how tender my heart still is. Sometimes surprised by how quickly the tears can come, and sometimes even more surprised by how they didn’t or won’t.
I didn’t have my words for the past few weeks… and they are coming frustratingly slowly, and haltingly, and for those who know me well know that means I am irritable, frustrated, quiet and crabby. Words are how I make sense of the world, and instead I was brought back to that place of numbness, of not engaging, of doing everything but sitting in front of the blank page to figure out what threads were begin tugged, what buttons were being pushed and what parts of my heart needed to be held more gently.
And then here it was, in the mail, my authors copy of my book, what I have been waiting for. And with it are a million to do’s, blogs to write, posters to make, book signing parties to plan, people to tell, e-mails to send, stories to share, high fives to be given, moments to be celebrated and yet… this moment I have waited so long for I felt this shadow, this weight, this otherness…
And here it was on the calendar, all these dates, milestones and reminders that Mitch isn’t here to celebrate with us.
And that is the piece about grief, the bittersweet part… life continues on… even after the loss.
Light finds it’s way into the corners of your heart and you begin to feel again a little at a time.
But yet, there is that place in me, in my body, in my heart that remembers, that knows even before I do what day it is.
To have it be so near to 9/11 where for the United States there is a collective grief, to have so many reminders of loss on Facebook pages, the television, the blogs, everyone asking “where were you?”. It makes it harder to avoid and simultaneously reminds me how true the words that I scrawled on a napkin after reading the quote somewhere “Grief is universal, grieving is individual.”
And the other day I finally started my words:
Annabelle started preschool
I went, Mitch didn’t.
The book is here.
But yet it wouldn’t be without grief breaking me open.
All of it.
Not one without the other, all intertwined, grief and growth, love and loss, moving forward and remembering backward…
This crazy, beautiful, sad, amazing, breathtaking, wonderful life.
And this time I fought less, and listened more to the grief, I surrendered more quickly and remembered that sometimes I just have to stop.
Grief has reminded me:
To pay attention.
To hold myself more gently.
To know that four years later, it will still hurt, and there will be moments.
To know that sometimes I won’t have words, but to trust that the words will always come.
To know that I am surrounded by people who find their way to my side at just the right times.
Mitch and I
From my old blog on Feb. 16th of 2011, and it applies today.
So interesting how often when the loss washes over me in the very next breath I am held in love, and all of the blessings, all of the healing, all the love and the light that has been shared with me envelops me… such a sacred place.
Bittersweet and sacred.
Read Full Post »