It has taken me 381 days to actually bring myself to write this. Because it still hurts. Because sometimes I still pretend it never happened. Because thinking about it still brings me to tears. Because my heart is still breaking. But if there is anything I have learned in this life, it’s that every single tragedy is filled with the implausible possibility of greatness.
Last year my brother died. It was unexpected. It was traumatic. It was life changing. One year later and it continues to haunt me in my sleep. It eclipses every happy moment. It is the single worst kind of pain I have ever felt.
And pain is actually something I am well acquainted with. I’ve experienced a whole lot of it in this lifetime. Failure. Abandonment. Neglect. Disappointment. Fear. Inadequacy. And somehow, I've been able to turn every single one of those emotions around and find a way to pull myself from their grasp. I've crawled out of the clutches of depression more times than I can count. But this pain, this kind of grief, is something I had never truly experienced until June 10th 2017.
Cause let’s be honest - Who really imagines their brother dying? I surely didn’t. Not even once. Never. Never had I ever thought about losing one of my brothers. Not at age 30. Not when he was only 47. Not with so many more years of living left ahead of us.
But on that Saturday afternoon he died. Without warning, without explanation. My brother was dead. And even after 381 days I still struggle to fully accept that I won’t ever see him sitting across the table at family dinner again.
If you know me you know that I have this “keep it moving” attitude towards life. Not because I don’t feel things but because I choose not to wallow in my feelings. I just get up and get on with living because that’s the only way I know how to cope with the changes that life brings. So that is what I have done for last year. Kept it moving.
Or at least I’ve tried to.
But if I’m completely honest, at night, when the children are asleep, and the kitchen is clean; when the lights are off and my mind stops thinking about the next thing to do; when the only sounds I hear are the whistles of the tree frogs… that is when I cry for him.
When I'm driving to work alone, and the rain is pouring on my dashboard, my soul sheds tears for the brother I lost. When I hear his voice speaking quietly in my subconscious my heart aches for the memories we'll never make.
All these years I’ve written about healing myself. I’ve built this blog around stories of how I had lived through pain and found a way out of it. I've written about how the pain made me better. How it served a purpose. I've challenged you over and over again to do the same. To be strong, to be courageous and to be great.
Yet now I sit here completely bewildered by this pain. I’ve tried but I haven’t found the silver lining in this one. I haven’t learned how to turn this around. A year later and I have not healed. Instead all I feel is the lingering sting of loss. The devastation of death. The pangs of pain. Because I loved my brother so much. No matter how many years pass that love will never fade. So, I know the pain won’t either. Because grief is just love, with nowhere to go.
Now I know what it feels like to experience a pain that does not subside. A pain that no matter how strong you are, how positive you are, how focused you are, it does not go away. A pain that you will carry through every phase of life. A pain that you will die with. And the only thing that I can do is take it. Accept this pain. Embrace this pain. Nurture this pain. Because the real miracle is living with the pain. Achieving greatness with the pain.
I’m not quite sure what greatness will be birthed from this grief. I’m not sure how God and the Universe will take this pain and manifest something magical. What I do know is that I have proven time and time again that I am an Alchemist. I have a long history of creating beauty from brokenness.
So here’s to doing it again, every single day. Here is my shot at turning this pain into purpose. Here’s to you my brother.
May you rest in eternal peace.