Give me a reason, and I won’t break down …
To say this has been hard is an understatement. And I doubt we’ve seen the end of it. The loss of C is a different kind of pain, and a different kind of grief. I miss my brother. I miss my best friend. I miss his laugh and the way he kept things in perspective. Though it’s hard, we’re hanging in there, just the same. Sometimes, I think people expect us to be breaking down, to be on the brink of utter despair. But, to be honest, we’re doing alright. And I think we will be for some time to come. We aren’t particularly strong, or in denial. We’re just privileged for having this experience, for living these past months with first our Mom, and then with Craig.
Though our days are filled with tears, they are equally filled with laughter. Just this evening, Dad and we were discussing the finer points of love, and romantic love, to be exact. Though Dad would like to believe that his was a rational kind of love, we argued that we would settle for nothing less than the “I’m out of breath” kind of love that Craig felt, and that Mom and Dad lived, and that we envied. After a little bullying, I think Dad realized that, indeed, he had that kind of romantic love with Mom. To see him cry, to really cry, over his wife was proof enough. It’s not a bad thing to love unabashedly - even if it is a little rational. After all, who would agree to have four children and 36 years of marriage without some semblance of love? To miss your wife, I wouldn’t even know where to begin … To see Dad cry, to see him miss Mom as if she passed just yesterday, was an indication of their love and how raw the pain still is. To add on the pain of losing Craig, I’d say it would be too much to bear.
We’re discussing it all these days: relationships, love, and death. Though we’re long on the soliloquies, not one of us has the answers. We’re still waiting for the reasons, for the long explanation as to why Mom and Craig happened to succumb to cancer all within the same year, all within months of each other. Like the song says, “Give me a reason, and I won’t break down.” Just one reason. I’m sure there are philosophical answers. All I know is how I feel, and that’s sadness. Sadness for losing the best friend I ever had, and my rock in the hardest storm.
I’m sad, but I’m not empty. As the song adds, “I’ve got more in store.” I have Dad, my knight in shining armor, the guy with whom I continue to enjoy in depth conversations, and the person that still manages to surprise me. You were here. That means the world. I have Diane, my passion and soul, and the person I turn to for feeling. I have Erin, my heart and spirit and the person I turn to for reason. I have Emily, the person I turn to for Craig’s love and remembering. I have Mom and Craig, the people I still turn to for reassurance. I have the blog, and the people who share this experience along with me. And, importantly, I have my friends, my rocks and the people that I rely on, even if they don’t know it.
Even now, Erin, Diane and I are chatting in Craig’s living room. It’s strange being in his place so soon after his passing, but in some way, we feel comforted spending time in the place he’s called home for the past seven years. To be anywhere else would feel foreign and misplaced. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our moments. His room is a sacred place; his final resting place. His bed is as we left it. The pictures we hung just a few weeks ago still pepper his door. The books he so loved still line his shelves and the closet is still a mess. That the six of us once lived entirely in his room is clear. Empty Diet Mountain Dew bottles line the ground and his trash is full to the rim. As Erin said earlier, we did more drinking (of the caffeinated sort), and less eating during the last 48 hours of our time with Craig. It’s hard being surrounded by Craig, by the person he was, and the memories we shared. Pictures of a life long ago line the bookshelves in his front room. We all look so blissfully ignorant of what was to come.
Now, I just feel tired, so absolutely tired. I haven’t slept fully in over a year. The weight of the past several months is finally bearing down. Though my eyes burn and my body hurts, sleep still seems so far away. It sounds selfish but I find myself longing for those days, for the time when cancer was something we heard on the news. It’s still hard to comprehend that, in a matter of one year, we’ve lost Mom and Craig. But as much as I want them here, I can’t help but acknowledge the beauty in which they both left. It was a testament to their character that they left in the manner in which they did, and on their own terms. They both passed with us by their side. For Mom, she was in Denver, with her son. For Craig, he was surrounded by all that he has known these past seven years.
They left on the best of terms, with love surrounding them. As for us, we’re doing alright - not well, but alright. Dad has left for Georgia and Woody’s for the night. Erin and I will join them tomorrow for the evening. We’re balancing our inert tendency to be alone with wanting to be with family and friends. For my sisters, it’s hard being with others at this time. For me, I would prefer to be around people, to a limited degree. It’s a careful balance. While it’s hard seeing others go on with life as usual, I find comfort in conversation and in knowing that there’s something else.
Regardless, we’re all finding comfort in the little things. Reunions. Family. Love. Laughter. Before Craig passed, I shared with him a vision I had of Ystad, Sweden. Craig, his girlfriend, Erin ,and I biked to Ales Stenar. A slight wind greeted us as we reached the top. I can remember laying with Craig in a divot just along the edge of the Baltic. I’ve never seen grass so green. I told Craig that I could see us all there, laughing. So peaceful. He whispered, “yes.” Somehow, later, as he struggled with his last breath, I hoped he was back in Sweden . I hoped. - J
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