There have been things I seek to understand better. Grief had never been one of them. When you go through great loss, you are forced to honor grief, embrace it, revere it, even accept it. The thing about grief is, it is highly unpredictable. You might have a period of several days where you feel things are a bit more under control, you’ve got this, you can handle this, then grief pops up and reminds you, you don’t have shit. It’ll humble you in a heartbeat and make demands of you, you will never be comfortable with. And that is grief. May those of you reading this, never have to go through it.
Yet, I know none of us can escape it.
I lost my brother. I didn’t lose a parent. I lost a brother, a grown man. I can’t even describe the sorrow and pain one feels when you lose someone so close to you, much, much too soon and so suddenly with few answers remaining even to this day. Nothing can adequately explain the horrible pain, physical pain, which comes with only something like this. My parents are both creeping up to their mid-70s, my dad’s health continues to fail him by the month, my mom is doing better physically than my dad, but has taken such poor care of herself, we all know it catches up at some point. They’ve both lived a good life. They could live much longer indeed, but they surely have some solid years under their belt. But my brother didn’t. It is a very different kind of experience when you lose someone whom who left this world much too soon, or when it’s “out of order.” But this is why as a sister, I am grieving so much.
The other reason I am grieving is while I have other siblings, particularly other older brothers, it was that “sister-brother” relationship, I felt strongest with him. To me, it was he and I who defined that relationship more so than the others. He was local. He was at my house every weekend. He was the only one who treated my girls, his nieces the way only a super proud and loving uncle would. He was “bro’s” with my husband. But he was my forever loving brother. The kind who you called repeatedly to come rescue you from something, on the regular. This was my brother, so even now, when I think about what it means to be a sister, I only know this because of him. To be clear, my other two brothers have stepped in tremendously since this has happened, and that should not go unrecognized. I love them to pieces. But it’s different. And everyone gets that.
We weren’t always this close. It wasn’t until he moved back to WA from Texas that we became close. I will admit, at the time he was considering moving back, I urged him to do it – to come back home and be with all of us. I was newly married and it had been years since I had lived near him but I knew he’d be happy here. He lived with us his first 6 months back in the area and he instantly developed a bond with my husband a sister could only dream of, and took care of our family, as only a big brother would. It was pretty perfect, despite the underlying imperfections going on behind the scenes none of us took seriously. He was my perfect brother and went above and beyond in effort to be the best big brother I could have asked for.. And damnit, every single person who knew him took this poor guy for granted. We should have all been more loving like he was, or talked nicer like he talked, or made the effort like he was always making. He always prioritized everyone else above himself… AND with a happy, giant smile. He never felt anyone owed him anything either, where I would have if I were him. Not him. God literally had to take him away from us and this earth, to give Ward what he really needed…and we all hate that it had to be that way, but it was.
So, when I walked into my doctor’s office and told him what happened, along with the stress I had been going through not to mention the grief, his instant reaction of a writing me up 3 months of medical leave from my job was just what I needed.
It’s been one of the best things I could have asked for – the ability to focus on self-care; getting myself and my family healthy again; dealing directly with my loss head on where I can process feelings and work through emotions that still feel as strong as the day I learned he passed away; being there for my sick dad at the drop of a pin where I can talk to him about my brother for 3 hours without worrying about any commitments hanging over my head. I mean, it’s been a journey and I’m only 3 weeks in.
I’m still dealing with a lot.
Everyday scenarios run through my head – it’s the constant replays.
Everyday I go back into time and relive moments and conversations we had just had.
Everyday while I know there is nothing I could have done, I still think of things I should have done which could have created a
different outcome, even though I’m a believer in a plan larger than myself.
My faith has been tested more than ever with this loss. I told my therapist last week, though I could barely get the words out… when it’s my time, and I am standing there in front of the pearly gates of heaven, please let it be Ward who comes to greet me and welcome me in. She assured me, yes, it will be Ward. It will absolutely be Ward. I told her I would hug him so tight then scold him for leaving me 40 years, a lifetime, too early. But just let it be Ward who’s there…
I cry from pure heartache when I’m reminded or am hit with the reality check of the fact it’s going to be about 40+ years until I get to talk to him again… that’s a mother of a pill to swallow. He was just here! But I’m working through it and every day is another challenge with me trying to work through acceptance.
Until then, I will continue this journey that I’m currently on with more kisses and hugs given to my family, wholesome meals cooked with love, weekly sessions where I can cry as much as I want for 60 straight minutes, Pilates classes that have allowed me to find physical strength again as well as overall wellness, and just figuring out ways to live a much more basic and simpler life. This journey is just what I needed to do and I’m thankful that it’s just what the doctor ordered. Not to mention a husband who supported me with this day one.
The journey continues.