Every day, I think about how my brother laughed.
I can still hear it. He's been gone ten months and seven days and I can still hear it.
I am afraid of forgetting.
All around me are Christmas lights and trees and Holiday Happenings. I want to be happy and joyful, but this year it is hard. I don't know if Christmas will ever not be hard.
Chris, my brother, loved Christmas. Absolutely loved it. He always overspent and he often overdecorated and he was usually overexcited, but that was just him. That was Chris. He was an explosion in every sense of the word.
The last time I saw my brother alive was Christmas eve of 2021. I remember as we were chatting thinking to myself, "I should ask dad to take a picture of the two of us". I can't recall the last time we had a picture, just us. Probably when we were little kids. We'd become so close in the last few years- he was the only person outside the people I lived with that I could really talk to. We whispered secret conversations and texted back and forth even in the same room, and even though it was clear he was struggling, I was able to pretend it was all okay. He was my brother and even though he was having a hard time it would all work out eventually.
He left before I could ask dad and I remember feeling a moment of almost suffocating panic about that, which was silly, right? There would be other days. There would always be more days.
A lot happened in the weeks following Christmas 2021. I don't know the exact order of all of the events, nor does it matter. I just know I never got another chance to take that photo. Fifty-four days later he was gone. The next time I saw him it was just his body. Nothing would ever be the same again.
So tonight, almost exactly one year to the day, I am sitting with this grief.
I am asking myself, again, for the millionth time, if there was something, anything I could have done.
I am wishing he had been able to understand how much we all loved him.
I am thinking of his children and his granddaughter, and wishing I could take the pain away for them.
I am helpless, because my parents hearts are broken and there is nothing, absolutely nothing I can ever do to make that better.
I wish I had the stupid picture. I am sure he would have been talking in it and I'm sure I would have smiled too big and had the squinty eyes I ALWAYS have in pictures and I'm sure I would have completely critiqued the photo and hated how I looked in it, but oh, God I would give anything to have that damn picture.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
A sweet neighbor baked me a pecan pie and left it on my front porch this morning. A friend from Bootcamp surprised me with a small gift. A Christmas card from my sweet nephew arrived. I had an email from one of my oldest, dearest friends this week.
I know there are people who love me. As the grief poured out of me this year so many people caught it and sat with me in it. So many people have listened to my venting, my crying, my pain. They've loved me and let me and I am thankful. So thankful.
Tonight, though, it is me and my grief. Just us.
I am weary with this pain.
Friends, I beg of you:
If you have the chance to tell someone you love them, do it.
If you have a chance to take the picture, do it. I don't care if you think you are too fat or you aren't wearing makeup or your hair is a mess. Take the picture. Please.
If you celebrate this Holiday season with someone who is grieving, please know that you are inviting not just that person, but their grief as well. We can't separate it. Even though it's Christmas. Even if we wanted to, which we maybe don't. This grief is love and I can't stop loving.
Tomorrow could be totally different. Tomorrow everything can change.
Love them, even if it's difficult.
Embrace them, every chance you can.
Take the picture. Take too many pictures. Take an obscene amount of pictures.
Blessed are those who grieve.
There is a purpose in this pain and I will find it.
I still believe.