I miss my brother

On Friday, he would have turned 51.

I don’t know quite what to do with myself this week. I hate moping and don’t see any point in being in a bad mood. I hate it. But I don’t know what else to do.

I want to celebrate him, smile and laugh. I want to watch the tv shows he liked, say “sweetie darling”, and drink champagne. I want to tell my kids the funny “Uncle” stories they like from back when we were kids.

But I don’t feel like it. I don’t feel like doing anything at all. Not even crying.

I have a job to do. Kids to feed and nurture. Life to show up for.

And so it goes.

Grief is a sneaky fucker. Sometimes he shows up on a Tuesday morning with no warning. Other times he announces himself at the turning of the calendar. He parks himself right in the middle of my life, so everything and everyone has to work around him. He takes up space but mostly keeps his mouth shut.

Grief brings along his pal Guilt. They often travel with I Don’t Give A Fuck and Leave Me Alone (see above). Sometimes it’s just Grief and Isolation. When those guys get together it’s lots of Trailer Park Boys and staying up late drinking bourbon.

I know my loved ones worry about me when I don't answer their texts or call them back; or just stand there washing dishes while they tell me something about their day that I barely hear and can’t care about even a little bit. Even if I really want to care, I just don’t.

No room for caring when Grief is in the room.

My favorite picture of us, September 2011 on a family vacation in the Outer Banks. Photo credit: Mom

With almost two years of conditioning, I have learned how to live with Grief. He and I have managed to make an arrangement for his containment. Soon after Edward died, well actually the very same day, I constructed an iron box just large enough for Grief to fit. In a fit of strength and will, I pushed Grief in the box and slammed the lid. For months I sat on the box, Grief struggled to get free every day. Eventually, he figured me out. He managed to push me off the lid by surprising me with a song or a memory. Distracted, I would forget to hold on so tight to that lid. Over time, I got tired of holding that lid down. Grief got better and better at distracting me or surprising me. So eventually, I had to learn to cohabit with him. I couldn’t smother him anymore. No matter how hard I tried.

And so now, Grief mostly keeps to himself. He’s crate-trained like a good dog. Occasionally he will remind me of a funny thing that happened in 1983 or a joke Edward and I shared. Those are times when Grief is a good friend when we can share this secret knowledge, like a handshake of solidarity.

But this week, Grief is right in the living room. Since there’s not a chance I can ignore him, I acknowledge him and do my best to make space for him in the day-to-day. If I don’t struggle to contain him, he’s actually not so bad of a houseguest. Better than many mother-in-laws.

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