People don’t talk much about how you live your life once you lose your sibling. There aren’t books on how to deal with being the one who had to decide to stop his life support as a freshman in college. I suppose no one wants to talk about that. That is too hard to face. I am still trying to figure out what that is. My brother was life. He walked into a room and people turned their heads. We laughed. We laughed loud and often. Our ragtag family was far from perfect, but we loved each other in a way that always held us together regardless of the storm we faced.
Today is the anniversary of my brother’s death. Some people say death is like a spiral and as you pull away from the center of the experience it gets less and less difficult to deal with. You still deal with it, but they say that the pain comes around less and less often.
Not for me.
When people ask me how many siblings I have, I have a hard time answering. If I explain that I did have two then I have to explain why I don’t anymore. But if I answer that I have one my soul screams out and I feel counterfeit for denying the existence of someone so amazing. Somedays, though… I just don’t want to explain. With the “I did have a brother, but he died” line people want to know why and how. What kind of Leukemia? When did you know? What all happened? Then there are times that I do feel like sharing and people don’t really know how to react or look at me after the fact. I walk away feeling like I just vomited on the floor in front of them and now we are all walking around it trying hard to pretend it never happened.
I have experienced so much in my short life that sometimes my stories seem so unbelievable, even to me.
Today I have deep sadness that resonates from my chest. I miss my brother. I sometimes feel angry at my son for not letting me forget him. My son’s smile and his hand gestures stun me at times. I stand transfixed and quiet for a moment. Isaiah, my son, skips off to play completely clueless that he has just motioned with his hands in the exact way his Uncle Isaiah used to. I hold the dish towel close to my heart and tense all my muscles in an effort not to lose it. For tiny moments I feel like am in Isaiah’s (my brother) presence in the form of my son. Or when I hold my son’s hand. Even his finger nails are the chewed and stubby replicas of my brother’s hands.These moments are soothing and painful in the most confusing kind of juxtaposition. I feel superstitious and nescient in these moments. I know he is gone.
But sometimes my mind and heart want desperately to believe he has left parts of himself in places.
Today I am writing this and crying. I don’t know how to say I used to be a sister. I don’t know how to make peace with something that seems so wrong. Losing Isaiah was never supposed to happen. Not that way. Today I am trying hard to inhale deeply and find some measure of grace. It is okay to cry today. It is okay to cry today. It is okay to cry.
Because he is gone.