A few days ago, winter briefly disappeared and Spring came in for a little teaser. We were in the car, with the windows down for the first time in months. We drove by the high school and the field was full of lacrosse players. Oliver leaned his head out of the car, shouting, "Yeah, go! Go for it! Keep it up! Woo hoo!"
We all started laughing hysterically, until our bellies hurt and then a wave of sorrow entered the car. We were all thinking the same thing, cherishing some memories of Andrew screaming out the window some ridiculous phrase or just screaming "Hey there!" to a passerby just to get a laugh. We sat in the sorrow for a few minutes, let it wash over us. The ache of missing him silenced us for a brief minute.
I'm adamant about celebrating my brother's life, keeping him alive with memories, and leaning in to the unbearable tsunami of longing that comes with doing so; they are mutually exclusive. Where there is laughter, there is pain. Where there is sorrow, there is joy. However, there is never avoidance, silencing, or shame. There is only love, even when it hurts like hell.
My son leaning out of the window, emulating his uncle, is both comforting and painful. But, mostly, it is beautiful. My kids talk alot about where they think Andrew is now and we encourage them to find their own understanding. Oliver believes he is hanging out with dead movie stars, Ava believes he is still with us, and Lily keeps her thoughts in her heart. And me, well I'm just not so sure, a combination of their ideas, I suppose. However, while reading my new library pick, Orphan Trian, a passage resonated with me so much:
"I've come to think that's what heaven is--a place in the memory of others where our best selves live." ~Christina Baker Kline in Orphan Train
For my family and I, Andrew brought us such intense joy, laughter and love. We are finding as time goes on, the memories outweigh his tragic exit. His life was so much more than his death.