And so, here we are again. You’d think, nearly two decades later, we’d know how to do this.
This day. November 13.
Outside my bedroom window the inner-city Sydney traffic huffs and sighs, rumbling toward afternoon’s end, and evening’s slow descent. Downstairs, our angel-friend Rocel clatters in the kitchen, helping us juggle this crazy end of year homeschool, college-exams, about-to-relocate-interstate period we push through.
I’m the mother of three growing, active, exuberant kids, the wife of nearly fifteen years to one great man. I have a degree that allows me to put a title before my name, for goodness sake. And yet.
Yet here I am, still that kid sister who lost a brother, that daughter of parents whose guts were spilled unceremoniously on the pavement of a humid February day. Still lost.
Grief doesn’t ever become ungrief. Not until eternity. And we can’t see that yet. Hope illuminates the edges, sometimes blazes radiant, but grief remains.
And on November 13, my brother’s birthday, we still stumble around shoeless in the dark cellars of that emptiness. It’s not true: Time doesn’t heal.
But it does grow.
And on grief’s scalding tail comes a different form of fullness that doesn’t replace the emptiness, but gives it new accent.
On November 13, as I feel that same undefinable pressing beneath the bars of my chest, that same salty pressure at my eyes, followed by that same trail of questions without answers that tail me through the day, I also have this:
The gift grief gives me. Of awareness. Of gratitude. The way grief doesn’t gently or politely take my hand in greeting, or pat me on the back, but takes me firmly by the shoulders and shaking-voiced says —‘Look around you. What do you see?’
I see life.
I see love.
I see opportunities to give thanks.
And opportunities to give over.
I see the stuff that matters, and the stuff that might pretend it does, but really it doesn’t.
Grief renders empty but it also reframes full.
When I remember my brother today, the faithful servant of his maker, a maker in his own right of words, and love, and beauty, I remember to sit up and take notice. And all those little things, those pesky decisions big and small, those comparisons, those regrets… for a few precious hours they pale a little.
As I remember my brother, Greg, I remember what, I believe, was his biggest lesson to me. Life is short. So love long, and wide and full. With all you’ve got, while you’ve still got the chance to.
For what is today? Today is the day to be alive.
Image credit: Deposit photos