It has been 9 and a half months since I lost my brother. On February 10, the day after his angel-versary , I will officially be able to put the “year of firsts” behind me. I lost my brother two days before my 29th birthday. Needless to say, my birthday has been the worst holiday to celebrate without him so far.
I had a big build up to Thanksgiving though. From what I can remember, my brother only ever missed one Thanksgiving. He was working and needed to stay working so that he could be home for Christmas that year instead. I was upset, but I understood. Aside from that, he went where I went. Whether it was my mom’s house or my paternal grandmother’s house or my aunt’s house 3 hours away, wherever I went, he would come. Looking back now, I can appreciate his willingness to support me. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it then.
Last Thanksgiving was actually worse than this Thanksgiving. My brother, Erik, and I fought. We argued and bickered. I was silent and in tears through dinner. The Erik I once knew wasn’t there anymore. Someone else remained. Someone scattered, confused, passionate yet disinterested, self-righteous yet obviously unsure. I didn’t like this new brother. I didn’t like being faced with the distance that had grown between us over the years. It was tough!
If I could do it all over again, I would have embraced his quirks. I would have focused on the jokes and the memories. I would have let his harsh words roll of my back. Instead, I’m left with the memory of a terrible last Thanksgiving.
This year, I had to run away a little bit. My in-laws graciously treated us to a vacation in Siesta Key, about two hours away. I am not intending to brag- because even if I had cried a big, ugly cry, I still would have been happy with the day. But, I only shed a tear when I got the sweetest message from my nutritionist (or life coach, as I call her :)). A smart, blonde, supermodel of a woman told me that I inspired her. I still question it! How can I be teaching someone who is a huge role model to so many, including myself?? But I learned to take the complement all the way down to my core, and I let myself feel it, and I cried.
I had read to prepare for triggers. I did. I also read to start new traditions. I did that too. I released a sprinkle of Erik’s ashes into the Gulf of Mexico. (He is still teaching me how to “let go”.) I expected to cry then, too. But I didn’t. I felt a release, and I felt him there with me.