The above picture is my point of view on most days...from the couch. It has been a tough 15 days, to be honest, the hardest of my life. Death and its aftermath sucks. Grief is unpredictable, inconsistent, and oftentimes, intolerable. Just when I think it is going to be a good day, I see a picture, hear a song, or have a crying child who misses their uncle that catapults me right back. I'm learning to be patient with this process and to go with it as it comes. This is a process, let me tell you, I'm a bit of an over-planner and this necessary patience is a daily battle for me. But, it is my only choice.
The only thing holding me together is this clan of mine. My kids are incredibly caring little human beings. I'm finding notes around the house, they are sharing funny memories of my little brother that bring sunshine into my day, and they are honestly and openly talking about this loss. Because, my grief is one thing, a daily fight, but I also must make room for their processes. Each of them deal with things differently, based on their age and personality and this is more than true right now. Oliver is needy, scared to be alone, and asks me everyday if I'm sure Andrew won't be back to have pizza on Friday night. Pippa is missing him fiercely but channeling her emotions into determination and drive on the soccer field. She started a new soccer league this week that is so challenging and rewarding--could not have happened at a better time. Bea, on the other hand, is my sensitive thinker. She knows exactly when to give me a hug and is viewing this process in a very unique way. She told me the other day that she knows Andrew is gone, but she feels him with her. So much so, my brave girl overcame some serious fear and anxiety and tried out for a solo in her fifth grade play, something she was adamant about not doing before all of this. I'm not going to lie, it is hard as hell to mother grieving children whilst grieving.
I had to make the very hard choice to take a leave of absence from work for a few months. This was not an easy decision for me. I love what I do so very much. Working with children everyday is truly a gift, but I'm not good at doing things half ass. I knew, based on the two huge losses in my life this year, I would not be able to give my little ones my all. They deserve all of me, my children deserve all of me, my husband deserves all of me, and I deserve all of me right now. I miss work terribly and would love to say that I'm tackling some major house projects but, mostly, I'm laying on the couch. Some days with a book, some days with a box of tissues, some days in utter silence. I'm learning the only way to push through is to stop when my feet become concrete blocks, cry when I miss my brother, laugh when I think of a funny memory, scream when I'm angry, and fight my way through all of this, rather than running away and ignoring the complex emotions that arise. It's beyond difficult, there are moments I'm unpleasant, impatient, and nasty; however, we are all allowing each other to be those things with love and understanding.
And this man of mine, I don't even know where to begin. We have been together for 18 years and I have never, ever seen him this upset. Devin loved my brother just as much as I did and they shared an incredibly special bond. This is not just a sibling loss for me, it is one for Devin as well. We are getting through the days, but our nights are full of tears, laughter, and talking, lots of talking. We avoid sleep, stay up too late, because we are both plagued with nightmares, and pay the costly price of sleep deprivation the days following. We are trying so very hard to be patient with each other, to support one another, and listen to one another as best as we can. Some days are wonderful, others horrid. It is hard to give when you feel empty, hard to hug when rage rests in your heart, and a struggle to stay strong when you want to crumble. But we all share this grief, none of us more or less, we all loved that boy with such intensity. He was a part of us and we are learning to live without him.
Bea woke up this morning and told us about her dream over breakfast, "I saw Andrew. He came to me and I gave him a hug. And then, he vanished. He just vanished and it just makes me so sad. But he still came and I still hugged him. I'm sad but it felt so good to hug and see him, even if it is the last time." As I fell into a pool of tears over toast, she hugged me so hard and for a brief moment, my little brother was there with us.
I'm not sure we will ever be the same, there is no way we can ever be, but we will get through this, we will find small slivers of light in this darkness...a day at a time.