Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

Yesterday was the three month anniversary of my brother’s death — well, actually the three month anniversary of the day I found him. The police said it was likely he was lying there for a day or two.

Let’s just take a minute with that.

There are so many emotions that come up at this point in the grieving process — the “deep grief” stage, as our Hospice worker explained — that I don’t know how to hold them all in my sorry little body.

I’m still in disbelief and numbness a lot of the time. My parents and I have begun to go back to most of our daily activities — my dad golfs, my mom is finishing her cooking school, I am working on a lot of naming projects in the city — I often find myself thinking my life hasn’t changed a bit since Thanksgiving, the day from which I had to start living my life as an only child.

Absentmindedly, I will start to call my brother to tell him about a friend that suggested we go paint-balling for my birthday — and can I borrow his gun? That’s when I have to remind myself that, Oh, right. My brother isn’t actually living.

It’s a very strange and recurring realization.

Then I find the anger. There is just so much rage inside my teeth and I don’t know where to bite: I’m angry at the dogs when they jump up on me; at my optometrist for not having my new glasses ready; at the IRS, my dentist, and Amazon.com; my shoulder pain; my stupid Perspective Fund and the god-damn money I have to give to some god-damn charity; at my boyfriend and how EFFing good he is; that I’m not that good; that it’s raining when it’s raining and it’s sunny when it’s sunny; that the coroner STILL hasn’t told us the cause of death (!) and the death certificates I ordered over a month ago haven’t arrived, making my poor sister-in-law still unable to do something as simple as sell my brother’s car; that I’ll be twenty-seven years old in one month and will still be living with my parents because I can’t seem to take a step forward because every time I start to stand up some big Frying Pan of Life whacks me upside the head, be it heartbreak, serious tropical diseases, or death!

This has been my year… Not that I’m complaining.

And then more loss: I am a bad girlfriend and lose my dear sweet Moo; my favorite, symbolic, tree is cut down; and my friend and roommate in Vietnam writes to tell me that her brother suddenly passed away.

There is confusion. Suddenly life doesn’t seem so clear, my plans muddy, my heart barricades from life. I begin to forget that living is joy, begin to think life is just a series of devastations. I start to believe life is sorrow.

What’s left, after it all, is an emptiness embedded under the dark bone of my body — a thick pain saddled to my heart that slides, drops deeper into the smokey cells of me, and will take a lifetime to excavate. At night I feel the weight of searching, spooning inside for my ribs. I am back to the ugliness, the messy hatred for life that is beyond depression; it is Aloneness. There is no pain like this pain.

And then something funny happens: I go to sleep. I wake up. The earliest morning light winks through my window. It is the three month anniversary of my brother’s death plus one.

I have made it through one more day.

And maybe I do it all over again. Or, maybe the next day my lungs are lighter, and the worst thing that happens is I drop my toothbrush in the toilet. Oh well. But I am here and I am alive and I am standing inside the sun of this day, and waiting for me at the end of this day is another, and — I hope — another after that, and another…

and if I can just make it through the night, there is always a dawn waiting to tell me that there is light.

§426 · February 24, 2008 · Unthinkable Loss · · [Print]

2 Comments to “Plus One”

  1. Morgo says:

    Day by day, step by step, and eventually we will climb the mountain called life.

  2. Aunt Penni says:

    It is leap year evening. I just read your Mom’s forward of your note to let all know that you had received some info from the ME on Chris. I responded to Kathi, but thought I wanted to tell you personally how good it is that you are being the head of the spear in this drive to handle the details regarding Chris. It is not an easy thing to do, and many would just avoid, and let others take the lead. Good for you, Shannon. I appreciate the information that you have sent to us, as well as the feeling I get on your blog. The details on Chris’ death only confirm what was expected, and does not lessen his death, but does remind us that the cause does not matter. We will just miss him. Love you, Penni

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