Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Everything to gain and nothing to lose.

 January 22nd, 2022 was the last day I ever exchanged text messages with my brother Chris.

We texted a lot over the last few years. Usually multiple times a day. I could tell how he was doing based on the frequency of the text messages. Rapid fire texts usually meant he was manic. Slower paced but steady texts meant he was doing okay. Silence was the scariest response. I always worried when I didn't hear from him. 

I texted him on January 15th because he had Covid and I knew he didn't feel well. He did respond that day, but then went silent, which was never a good sign.

I texted him a week later, January 22nd. 


Are you feeling better?


What I did not say was I'm worried about you. It scares me when I don't hear from you. 


I'm okay. In a lot of pain, but depressed to the point that I don't even care anymore.


That was not the entirely of his message, but that is the part that hurts the most.


I did not say I'm so sorry. I did not say I value you and and I don't know how to live in the world without you in it, so I really need you to get help and be okay. I did not even say I love you.

I texted him a picture of me and my dog Macie, wearing matching socks.

Objectively, I know I did this because it was funny and cute and I thought it would make him laugh. I believe it did, or at least he sent back:

Lol. Cute!

 I didn't know how to say all the other things, and even if I did, even if I was great at being a loving, wonderful human being (spoiler: I need work on this), I did not pick up what he was putting down. I thought he was depressed because he had Covid and didn't feel well and people, frankly, were being huge dicks about Covid and that just made it so much worse for him. So much worse. 

I didn't see it though. I didn't get it. I felt like he was one of the closest people in the world to me from 2020 until the day he died and I. just. did. not. see. it.

Until February 16th, 2022 I had never lived in a world in which my brother did not exist and honestly, it did not seem real that I ever would.

I spent a lot of time hating myself for not seeing it.

A lot of time.

So, so much time.

I woke up on January 22nd, 2023 in utter despair. Questioning everything. Missing my brother. Wishing I could do it all over again and this time say the right thing. The correct thing. The very thing that would make him realize that the world is not as it should be without him in it and please, God please, just don't go. 

I woke up on January 22nd, 2024 in utter despair.

I got dressed for the gym, because getting them gains doesn't get a grief day, and I went downstairs where I was soon joined by my little black lab, Macie Jolene. 

She's mostly Jason's dog. I'm pretty sure if she could get me out of the house so she could have Jason all to herself she would do it. In all honesty, I think the last family she had abused her pretty terribly and she is a little uncomfortable around women in general. Which is sad and terrible and makes me give her extra love and snackos. She's considerably warmer to me than she used to be, but she's still not the most cuddly dog. That's okay, not all dogs are cuddly. 

I keep trying with her though. I always keep trying.

I gave her breakfast and she settled in on the couch to sit with me and my despair. We do this every day.

What she doesn't do every day is cuddle up closer to me, lay her head on my lap, and fall asleep. 

But that's what she did on January 22nd.

Today can be a good day.


I don't know why that popped into my brain at that exact moment, but it did. The deep work I've been doing for the last several years has taught me that even when I think something that doesn't mean it is necessarily true. That my brother's death was not my fault, and even if I had told him I loved him in that second, his decision was already made. That he knew, and I know he knew even though I didn't say it, that I loved him. That he is okay now. That he has peace now that he never had in his time on Earth and even though he transferred that pain to the people who loved him, he no longer had that pain. 


It's okay for today to be a good day.

January 22nd at about 7pm, I was in the car with my husband. He needed gas and he asked if I would ride with him to the gas station. I didn't need to, and honestly didn't really want to, but he wanted to spend time with me and I said yes to that. While we were in the car, I got a message on the Teams app on my phone that the very biggest deal that I've been working on for a year, that I went to Dallas to present for in November, that I had put so much time, energy, and effort into, had closed. It was a done deal. Right before the end of the fiscal year. Over a million dollars. My work and my name and my energy and every good thing about me. Won. Closed.

The chat thread quickly filled up with messages of congratulations and in the quiet car, I bowed my head and shed a few tears.


Today was a good day.


But before that message arrived? It was a good day.

 At my bootcamp, we celebrated one of my friends reaching 700 camps- a huge milestone. The same workout we celebrated someone who showed up for the first time. My friends, the same friends who got together and had a prayer circle for me when I was in Dallas presenting this huge presentation for this huge deal, were all there and we hugged when I came in. When I was leaving I saw another friend coming in for a later camp, and I jumped in front of her (parked) car and did a booty shake. She laughed, and there is pretty much nothing more lovely than making a friend laugh on a very good day.

My boss who is one of my biggest supporters, didn't get picked for jury duty. My work bestie, despite having Covid, made me laugh with hilarious memes all day long. I finished my self-assessment at work and I said nice things about myself, which is hard for me. I recognized how much growth I've had in the last year. I recorded a presentation and listened back. I knew what I was talking about. I know a lot. 

My husband has been in love with me for over twenty years and he wanted me in the car with him when he was getting gas. The most mundane of activities, but he wants me close by. When I told him why I was crying he said, "Of course you won it" because there is no one who cheers louder for me than Jason, and I don't think there ever could be. 

In the morning after bootcamp I walked outside into the very cold air and I took a deep, sharp breath and felt so alive I could almost burst. I am here, still here, and surrounded by so many wonderful, positive, uplifting things that I could barely stand the beauty of it all. I walked in the quiet woods, alone, and I let a few tears fall. They weren't sad tears though. 

It was a good day.


A few weeks ago the lovely lady I see for reiki said to me, "Sometimes you have to cut that tie. Not only so you can move on and heal, but also so your brother can move on to wherever he needs to be next too". I don't know how I feel about all of that yet, but I do know I love the idea of my brother being somewhere in the world, happy and free. Free from all his pain. Free from all the sadness he lived through. Finally okay. 


I think he would want me to be okay too. 


I will never "get over" the loss of my brother. There will never be a moment of my life that I will not wish he was around to get to experience. Every time I spend time with his children I think to myself, "Oh how lucky I am, to have these kids to love" and "Oh, Chris. I wish you were here with us."


But it's okay to have a good day. It's okay to re-frame the narrative. It's okay. 


It's okay. 


It's okay.


I am healing. Day by day, minute by minute. 


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