(Author's Note: Be forewarned, the following post is not going to be cheery at all. If you're not in the mood to read something a little more on the down-side...don't read this.)
Almost a year ago, I lost my oldest sister. She practically suffocated one night. It was a random and disturbing thing that I am still trying to come to grips with. The rest of the year last year was spent attempting to return to normalcy despite an inner turmoil that begged me not to let things be normal again. It was quite the paradox. Part of me wanted life to be normal again. Another part of me knew that it would never be the same again. Yet another part of me didn't want it to be normal again simply because normal meant I may forget my sister. I could never forget her completely, but moving on could, in turn, make the memories fade and harder to hold on to.
I've actually been doing a lot better lately. For awhile I worried about my sanity. I'd break down at the stupidest things. To say the least I'm more emotional these days than I ever was before my sister died. When I'm watching a movie and someone dies at the end, I'm usually blubbering like a girl. It's happened a couple times which is quite embarrassing for a guy. You don't really understand death until someone really close to you dies.
I'd thought Christmas would be hard, but I guess I didn't have a lot of time to think about it because it wasn't that bad. Thanksgiving was much harder comparatively. I'm not saying I didn't miss my sister as her daughter was opening presents and having a good ol' time. It just wasn't bad. I think it's cause I had braced myself for a hard time during the holidays. Or I was just too caught up in work and such to really ponder about who was missing from the picture.
I also think that a coping mechanism to grief is that you just become accustomed to the missing piece. You always know that something's not right, but there is rightness in the wrongness because you have told yourself that this is how it has to be for now.
So I got thinking about my sister again tonight because my really good friend's dad passed away today. I got the call at work from another friend. He told me that Matt's dad had a heart attack on Monday. He was doing better and then suddenly took a turn for the worse and passed away earlier this afternoon.
Not only did I ache because of the bad news. No one should have to go through this, but it is our mortal human nature. Everyone will be touched by death. I hurt also because I knew what Matt was going through and what he would be going through for the next few weeks...the next few months...the next year...There will always be that twinge of pain and grief and loss.
After I got the call, I could not concentrate. I tried. But all the old feelings flooded over me in a rush of emotion. Suddenly those feelings I felt when my sister died were fresh again. Like a picked scab, bleeding again. I can still remember how my heart raced when my Dad called me and told me to come to the hospital. My breath echoed in my ears as I grabbed my coat and ran out the door.
The whole ride to the hospital I tried to convince myself that this was all going to be just an episode. Just a fleeting thing. My sister would make it. She would live.
I can remember the tiny waiting room. The impending doom. Waiting. Watching as my mom blamed herself for the whole thing.
I remember my dad coming in and telling us that she did not make it. My mom's groans and whimpers as she cried on my dad's shoulder. My other sister wrapped in her husband's arms as I just sat there, stunned and teary-eyed.
After that everything was a blur. I just remember feeling numb. That had to be part of the body's defenses against grief.
I miss going to the grave. It gave me an excuse to break down instead of putting up a front of strength. As soon as the snow melts, I will go back.
Jake Taylor graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional writing. He is the author of The Tales of the Unluckiest Lucky Girl series. He is also an avid reader, traveler, movie-watcher, and music lover. He currently serves in the US Navy and is stationed in San Diego, CA.