Your little brother's birthday was Sunday. It's the first in this series of milestones we are facing without you here. It hurt to look around to see the family gathered to sing Happy Birthday to him and to miss your face. I could feel your presence with us as we laughed and visited, hugged and choked back tears. But it was not the same, and that's what breaks my heart. Xanny looks up to you so much. He told me that you were his best friend, so he feels he lost more than a brother the night you died.
Saturday was a day of emotional and mental preparation for me. I cried a lot that day and had to call Aunt Lakshmi (my on-call Saturday life-line) to talk it out for a bit. I keep little crafts around to occupy my hands and the active part of my brain while the emotional body churns through the heavy emotional work. There is a basket of seashells with a nearby collection of markers so that I can lose myself in the delicate whorls and curves of these oceanic offerings. I decorate them with paisley, stripes, and flowers. I have sewing projects ready to go and now, jewelry making. Nothing too elaborate as that would defeat the purpose of keeping my hands and head occupied so I can settle into the quietude that rests in my core, that place where I am weaving a new web of life. I made eight pairs of earrings while the tears silently slid from my eyes.
I allowed the sorrow of the moment to sweep me where it would. Denying it would only make it worse later, like on Sunday, and I wanted to be 100% present to celebrate Xanny's birthday with joy and love. So, I dived into the sorrow to express and cleared it before I could enjoy Sunday. This is one example of how I now manage the grief, Thor. I understand its presence in my life and how it can knock me over when I resist the powerful current. I am learning to artfully weave grief and joy into each breath so that I can live in balanced integrity. We are all figuring out the new road that lay before us in the aftermath of your death. Each of us finds the harmonious blend of action, reflection, honoring, expression, reserve, and tears that allow us to get up each day and take another step. Each day it's different, so we are learning to be very aware of our inner selves. This is new territory for a bunch of chronic do-ers like our family is prone to be. If we had a family motto it might be; We rock on. We walk-it-off. We rub some dirt in it and run the damned bases.
Not this time. There is no ignoring this devastation. We are forced to sit and listen to the inner ticking of our broken hearts with the horrible knowledge that nothing will ever fix them. We choreograph a new dance to the new beat; the beat that misses when it comes to the empty place you once filled. And somehow, we rearrange ourselves to collectively craft a frame around this emptiness, this hole in the melody of life, where we keep you alive; your place in the tune now carried by our memories and love.
Celebrating life is bittersweet with the specter of your death still hanging heavily over each day. But we walk ahead. I baked two flavors of elaborate cream-filled cupcakes that would make a French pastry chef proud. We prepared our home to receive family and friends for a party to honor life and love and fun and joy. It's the first gathering we've had since the night you died, so we swallowed hard and pushed through - for Xan. And for all of us.
Xanny proudly cranked up your stereo and subs to show his friends. You'd be proud of his elaborate set-up, and I can hear you cracking up as I cringe when the dishes rattle on the shelves from the bass booming. I cringe, but I love it. He's so happy to have this piece of you, and he's turned it into a legacy thing - his way of honoring and staying close to you and keeping you in his daily life. I love it when he tinkers with the set-up, looking for a better way to manage the sound and the power. It breaks my heart that this is what he has left of you - a stereo and your playlists. There are other things - some hats and memorabilia, bu the music is where he feels you. One night I came into his room to find him sleeping with your country playlist playing in his headphones. He'd been listening to this lullaby all night. Maybe he was calling you to visit his dreams and give him some big brother words of encouragement.
I love you,