I wrote this a few years ago after my best friend and “brother” died. I just didn’t know how I was going to get through this horrible feeling called grief.
I took to writing as a way of getting all of those emotions out of my head and setting them free. What I learned was that there are so many people out there trying to figure out how to cope with grief. It isn’t something we are taught how to do and until it happens to you, it is almost impossible to know how you will react. I really believe we need to talk more about grief and dying, open and real conversations about what is a very realistic moment in each of our lives.
Until he died, I really had no idea how life changing losing someone you loved could be. I’d lost grandparents and pets, but my feelings were expected. However when tragedy comes in the middle of the night, or suddenly, it is just different.
Please enjoy “Tuesday” and let’s start talking about our moments when life changes.
The day just wasn’t going right. I woke up with this anxious feeling that sat heavy in my stomach. I couldn’t put my finger on what was the issue. Was I late or missing an appointment? August 21, 2012, nothing scheduled. Over and again I checked my calendar, looked through emails, nothing to indicate that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, yet something off.
10:30a.m. – I started hooping up the fabrics needed for my embroidery projects. The placement seemed wrong, re-hoop. The tension too soft, re-hoop. Even when I got started I made simple amateur mistakes, I cost myself time and materials. I kept looking at the clock and feeling the weight of time pressing on me.
Take a break
11:25am – I moved away from the machine and tried to find my groove, but it was so lopsided today and I just couldn’t get my head together. I tried listening to my music, playing with my dog and going for a ride in the car. Nothing was breaking the cloud over me. It made me cranky and upset that I couldn’t get out of this nagging feeling. I called my brother, he always knows how to look at the situation and figure out how to pull me out of a funk. I’d been sick the week before and had missed his calls, time to call him back and “Show him some love” as he teased me the day before in his voicemail. I called, left a voicemail tag back at him and pouted for not catching him free.
Still moody I went back to my machine to try to get my work finished and orders shipped out to my customers. It annoys me when I have projects hanging over my head. I don’t like to keep orders out too long and I will often stay up at night and get them finished and ready for morning ship outs. But this day, every time I tried to work on a project it got screwed up. And when I tried to save one helpless bib from disaster I ended up with a sharp needle stab that stung my patience with the day and was the last straw.
Walk away and start again tomorrow.
5:30pm -I looked at the clock again, cranky that it seemed to move so slowly and yet I was getting nothing done. I stopped the machine, closed my laptop and made dinner. Just frustrated with everything I tried to talk to my husband about it. What could it be? Was it my Lyme acting up and putting me in a fog? Maybe I should just rest a bit; being sick often gives my Lyme a reason to make me feel worse even after the normal issues have settled.
Don’t make this day any worse. Go relax.
7:15 pm- Just unable to let go of the nagging feeling I went upstairs to take a long bath and try to wash away the exasperation. Sinking into the steaming vanilla scented water, my tense muscles tried to unclench as I closed my eyes and forced my mind to settle down. I would start again tomorrow on the sewing, which could wait. My brother is likely riding somewhere beautiful and is giving me a taste of my own medicine by not calling me back. Dinner was just ok, but they can’t all be great. I just needed to relax and soak away the day. I let my mind wander and just like that I felt the calm smooth over my skin and wrap around me. Maybe this is what I needed all along.
9:30pm- My eyes were so heavy from being relaxed that I couldn’t focus on the television or much else. Other than falling asleep on the couch and snoring in front of the family trying to watch TV I said my good-nights and went to bed. Whatever had been nagging at me seemed to be gone and I just needed to start fresh in the morning.
12:20am – My eyes slid open and I looked around in the darkness. It’s late; I can feel the darkness reminding me that I should be sleeping. I closed my eyes and rolled over. First came the light, I opened my eyes again and spotted both the time and her name.
12:22 am – I didn’t want to answer, but I knew I had to. “What’s wrong? “ It’s all I could stumble out as I sat up in bed. There’s always something wrong when you get a call after midnight. God, had something happened to her husband, he’s in the Air Force and he does dangerous things. How is she going to handle this? Her sons, how were they going to take this? “There was an accident…” Oh, that’s how it happened. Her voice was tight and trembling. “Lance was… “Wait, she meant Sterling, her husband. She’s confused because I thought she just said Lance. Lance is in Colorado, and she’s not in Colorado, she’s on the east coast with me.
Focus! What did she say?
“Lance was killed in an accident. He was on his motorcycle and there was a car. “NO, I am not hearing this right because she said it again, Lance… my brother… her brother. I demanded she repeat it. I heard my own voice say it out loud. “Lance was in an accident.” NO. I asked her what she was saying, he was ok, right? I would throw on some clothes and get to the airport, I could be there with him in a couple of hours and he’d be ok. “He is GONE!” She broke; her tears sank into what she was saying and ripped a hole in my reality. Suddenly everything felt so small and I couldn’t catch my breath.
This didn’t happen. NO, he’s a big guy and he’s smart and he knows what he is doing. NO. Why would she call in the middle of the night and tell me something so wrong? She kept talking and somehow I kept answering, but my mind was screaming “OH GOD! OH GOD! OH GOD! “When somehow I ended the call and my husband had been told of what happened, I realized I wasn’t silent in my sobs and pleas to the heavens. Everything ripped open in me and began to flood out through my tears. I didn’t even feel like I was in my own head, just hovering there watching my own horror as I realized this is why he hadn’t called me back.
The next day we dressed and drove to my sister’s house and tried to comfort each other. It’s difficult wanting to scream and cry and drive out the madness that news like this demands while not appearing to be totally insane to the others around who you have never met before. We gathered information and made calls to the right people to get things moving. Consent was given for organ and tissue donation and through this he would be helping someone else, but we were still left here without him.
Through the fog of the day we discovered that between 5:15-5:30pm our brother and best friend was riding his motorcycle from the gym to meet a friend. The friend was ahead of him or close by when a young woman 20 years old either didn’t see him or misjudged the distance and made a left turn in front of him. He tried to brake, he tried to lay the bike down, but still he kept sliding into her in what must have seemed like life in slow motion. He came away from the bike and still he slid towards her back tire and just like that, life was over. His red Ducati lay humming on its side thrown over to the curb and still capable of speeding away, but the rider wasn’t. Life and bones can be so fragile.
As I slipped under the water and tried to wash away the nagging anxiety of the day, he realized this part of his journey was over. I suppose there was a calm as life relaxes its grasp on a body. The paramedics tried to do CPR, the friend came to the scene, the police tried to understand what just happened. But none of that mattered as he just let go.
Hey it’s me. I just wanted to tell you that I do love you and you mean so much to me. I’m sorry I didn’t call earlier, you know… sick, sounding stupid on the phone and all. But I do love you and I miss you. Call me.
My last words to him… I can only pray he listened to the message. I am sure he did, he just didn’t call back.
And how am I supposed to move on now? I hear him. I hear him telling me that I can’t let this destroy me and I have to keep moving or else I am going to sink in the mud. I don’t want to sink… but… I don’t want to feel better! I don’t want to let go! I don’t want to move on! I… I… I don’t want to think about being in a life without my brother, my best friend. I don’t… and yes, I know I have so many people who love me and want to help me through this. I… I know! But it isn’t right, not him.
Don’t forget, just love on and on. Then take one baby step at a time back to a new normal. The day is over now…