It started in 2013. On March 7th, I decided to become friends with grief. It wasn’t going anywhere soon. The only way to not let it completely overpower me was to have a relationship with it. It’s 2017 and I finally feel like it’s time grief and I are just acquaintances. If grief and I were friends on Facebook, I’d unfollow it. I still feel close to my brother even though he’s gone. The memories are still there but not as often as I would like them to be around. So that’s why I named this category big memories. Michael’s nickname was “Big.” They can’t fade if they’re published.
I don’t remember a word of what was said at his funeral. I couldn’t think let alone listen to anything. I had just moved across the country and the car I shared with my boyfriend died on the way. What should have been a 4 day trip turned into a 6 day trip. Five days after we arrived, he passed away. I just figured that the only way through was to be honest and patient with life for a while.
We got a 7 week old puppy on March 11th, 2013. Grief lost to my new puppy in the early days. I remember Fonda got out when she was about 3 or 4 months old. I stood outside my door and called her name. A few seconds later she came running by with the biggest smile on her face. She looked like a dog in a commercial. She didn’t stop running when she saw me. So I went inside and got some treats. When I got outside, she slowed down for the treats. She wasn’t done though. She ran around the building again and finally she was done and a little thirsty. I didn’t get mad at her. She kicked grief’s ass that day. I loved her for it.
Most of the time Fonda would sit on top of my shoulders when I sat on the couch. In my new city and I didn’t have my brother to bounce anything off of but I just kept going. Life moved at a snail pace some days and others I felt human again. I held onto those moments I felt human again like golden seeds. I wanted to grow. I just remembered that grief wasn’t out to get me and I wasn’t going to push it away. I only wanted to go through this once for him. I didn’t want it to creep back up and make me slow down again. Sure I’ll never stop grieving but feel much more human now than I have in years.
Sometimes returning to normal seemed too far away and too painful. I just took baby steps. I remember when I didn’t start crying over songs that would make me cry for hours. Baby steps. I started doing yoga again. I couldn’t even touch my toes! Now my body is reminding me of poses I completely forgot about.
I got realistic about getting my life back up to full speed. It’s not there yet but I’m getting there pretty quickly. I won’t miss grief being so close to me but to be honest it taught me I never lost the courage I had when Michael was alive. And I still feel like I lost about 1/2 of my childhood and my identity when he passed away. I didn’t care about anything else but the process and that’s how I managed to keep myself going. I never thought grief wanted to take away my joy of life but some days it did. And when the sun rose the next day, there was this puppy and my other dog Charlie who wanted to go outside 3-5 times a day. A support system full of funny movies, baseball games, swim meets, dinners, and weekend getaways to see family. It wasn’t enough some days but life was there just like grief was. And grief already took enough so I started staying busy. I made cookies, t-shirts, jewelry, skin cream, websites, printables, dog art, etc. Nothing was perfect but it something to do.
Now it’s time to have a distant relationship with grief and start documenting the memories that made me who I am. And maybe learn something new like how to make dog treats.