I wrote these words yesterday on my Instagram account:
It’s been 14 years. 14 years since I’ve heard his voice, watched him laugh. In those 14 years I’ve experienced emotions from one extreme to another. My feelings have launched me from intense anger to acceptance, from heart wrenching pain to unworldly peace. To be quite honest, I’m not sure how I feel this year. It hurts, of course. I miss him. There has always been an absence in my life, and there always will be. But today, right now, I feel the love of my Father more than ever. I know that He hated the day we lost my brother. He didn’t want that for us. He longed for a family that was whole. He hurts with me. He feels my pain. And more than that, he longs to sit and walk through the process of mourning with me. I’m thankful that my God doesn’t require me to get it together. He doesn’t need me to get over it and get on with my life. He happily welcomes me into His comforting arms when the tears begin to fall. After 14 years, I’ve learned that the only place I can find peace and comfort, is in His arms.
“In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear”
“I Am Not Alone” – Kari Jobe
And every word is true. But it’s interesting to me how easy it is to lean into God and into his mercy and grace when you have some control over situations. Even situations that are menial. When I wrote those words yesterday, I spent all day with my mom. We usually always do. If I’m supposed to work that day, I usually always take it off and we spend the day together. Most years we go to the cemetery, we pick out a tree for my brothers grave, we decorate and we just spend time with each other. We don’t’ really talk about my brother. We don’t cry together. We just are. We’re present. For the most part we stay away from our phones. So with no outside interruptions, it’s easy to say “God. I’m leaning into you. I’m pressing into your presence because it’s only by your love that I am made whole. It’s only by your grace and mercy that my still shattered heart is held together.” And I truly to try to walk in that belief. I have faith in my God. In my father.
And then Monday morning comes. It’s kind of weird. I’ve always said that losing my brother was hard, but living after the funeral was much harder. I think the same goes for the anniversaries. The week leading up to that day is always hard… He’s on my mind much more than normal, and usually the night before is the time it really hits me. It seems to be the time that I lean into God further, it’s a time that I cry and get angry and tell God that it isn’t fair. And then December 14th comes… and I’m ok. My brother and his death sit at the edge of my breaking point but I can keep it together. I wonder if that is a product of 13 years of feeling like I need to hold it in for my mom’s sake. She’s never been one to hold it together. If I’m being honest, in the days after his death, my mom was one of the main reason’s for my learning how to internalize my pain and bury. I had to. My mom was falling apart. I couldn’t lose it too. Now, I’m not saying that it’s her fault. That was a choice that I made. Whether I knew it or not. Every 14th of December though, I slip back into that. I internalize things for a day, so that my mom can grieve the way that she needs to.
We held my brother’s funeral 3 days before Christmas. The thing with funerals is that people are constantly there. I don’t remember my mom and I ever being alone except for when we slept. And even then, we took to sleeping together because it was just too hard to be alone. At all other times of the day, though, someone was there. They were making sure that we were talking and eating and planning. Planning a funeral. And then the funeral ended. We ate food, we celebrated my brother’s short life, and then people started to go home. By that night, we didn’t have people at the house all the time. We had the family that were staying with, but that’s it. And we had to rush to have Christmas. Looking back, I don’t know how my mom did it. I was 12, so while I missed my brother and while I was grieving, I was also able to compartmentalize and focus on Christmas. I was still a child, of course. But my mom.. Man. Every time I think about that year, I realize more and more just how strong my mom is. How brave, how heroic.
All of this crazy mumbling has been to say, that the days after the anniversary, much like the days after the funeral are hard. I’m testy, I’m angry, I’m hurting. And people make it worse. haha. One day I hope to understand myself better. To understand that while God has created me to be in community, why I tend to crave being alone. For now, I just try. Try to let people in.