I laid my little brother to rest on Saturday; what a horrible fucking day that was. Hell, this whole week has been among the worst of my life.
It feels like it happened a lifetime ago, but at the same time, it feels like it was only moments ago. Things happened at warp speed and in slow motion at the same time. I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced that sensation before.
The trip itself was exhausting. A friend took BB and another friend took the dogs so Hubby and I could go to Arkansas alone. It was a long and boring drive, and I think I cried more tears during that drive than I’d ever cried in my life. And I’ve cried a helluva lot of tears in my time. I passed the time, between crying jags, making plans with the funeral home, getting cost details, and passing information on to other family members. It was somehow surreal and appropriate to make funerary arrangements in the same desert landscape that my brother and I drove through as kids. Talking to a funeral director on a cell phone with no reception in the middle of the desert is probably a situation that rarely happens, so at least I experienced something that few people have.
While we were there, I got to meet and hang out with some of my brother’s friends. It felt good to listen to stories about him and it was nice to know that he wasn’t alone; he had a network of people who loved and supported him. I’m so thankful to his friends for all they did for him while he was alive and for helping me in his death.
Now we are home and it’s time to pick up the pieces of my life and move on. In about a month we are moving out of state, so on top of the grief for my brother, I have to get us packed and ready to go. I have to help BB say goodbye to all of his friends. I have to say goodbye to mine, too. I have to go through our stuff and have a yard sale, I have to help Hubby figure out where we’re going to live, and I have to figure out how the hell I’m supposed to make friends as an atheist homeschooler in the bible belt.
There is so much to do. Too much to do to leave room for grief. Somehow I need to find a way to set it aside for now so I can focus on the tasks at hand. That’s what got me through the funeral. One task at a time, one hug after another, one foot in front of the other. Forward momentum keep me going and allowed me to keep the tears at bay. It was only in the hotel, when there wasn’t someone to comfort or a paper to sign that my grief seeped out. When it was just me and Hubby, I cried. And cried. And cried. At night, when the lights were out and I was floating in the unfamiliar darkness of the hotel room, I had vivid flashbacks of my childhood. The memories played in my head so vividly that it was like watching a movie. I laid there in the dark, crying and watching memories until I passed out from exhaustion. Then I dreamed that my brother was dead and I was planning his funeral.
My brother was almost like a son in a lot of ways. Even though we were less than two years apart, it fell to me to be his parent. When he had asthma attacks, I fixed his nebulizer treatments; when he had bad dreams, I was the one who nurtured him back to sleep. When he needed food, I figured out how to cook for him. I beat people up when they called him a sissy or hurt him. I raised him.
And now he is dead.
The sorrow, the regret, the depth of the anguish I’m feeling is unimaginable. It’s like I’m stuck in a black hole. I can’t think. I can’t breathe. I can’t move. How do I keep going when I can’t breathe? How do I move forward when I can’t think clearly? My words don’t even come out right when I’m talking. The book I’m reading doesn’t make sense. I can’t find meaning in the symbols on the page. And when I do find the meaning, I can’t hold it in my head long enough to understand the context. I go back and re-read a paragraph and I think: I didn’t read this…I don’t remember reading this…
How do you pick up the pieces when they are shattered into dust? How do you keep putting one foot in front of the other when you can’t even pick up your leg? How do you do this?