When youíre living inside the shell of mourning, itís really very difficult to take stock of your feelings in the way youíre accustomed.
I canít bring myself to care about the things that used to upset me, and Iím only dimly aware of the things that used to make me insanely happy.
I suppose it because my whole being is busy dealing with the churning cauldron of pain thatís inside of me, so it really canít be bothered to process whatever is happing outside. This takes on a weirdly literal form when I cry particularly hard, because a wave of pressure builds up in my ears during those great heaving soundless sobs, so much so that I canít hear the words of comfort uttered by whoever is around me. Itís a frightening thing, because for a few horrible moments, itís only me and my grief locked inside this salty, liquid vacuum of a trap.
There are neutral moments of course, when Iím not feeling good per se, but Iím devoid of emotion, which is as good as it gets lately. Iíd like to say that I wish for those moments, but I also know that as soon as I think I have a handle on things, the handle cracks and falls, and so do I.
Itís a cruel and greedy master, grief; if youíre not careful, itíll steal your very self away from you. Iíve always been a girl who took pride in enjoying the little things. Remember the excitement I could churn out at the prospect of a trip to the hair salon? I make hair appointments every six weeks; youíd think Iíd be a little more blasť about it by now. But I loved sitting in that chair and having pretty men massage my scalp and run their fingers through my hair and work their magic with potions and scissors and little squares of foil, and then pronounce me a pretty, pretty thing at the end of it all. Iím no fool, of course; I tip well, and so Iíll always be a pretty, pretty thing at the end of it all, but itís fun and flirty, and I love every second of it because they make me giggle and feel fantastic.
And last Monday, when I made my appointment for this Friday, I was really hoping that that feeling would kick in; all week, in fact, Iíve been trying to drum up some happy anticipation for my appointment Ė if anything because itís been a while and Dear God my roots need work. And yet, itís not happening. What I was hoping would be a spark of light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps even the first tentative steps to pull me out my gloom, is serving only as a temporary distraction. It doesnít matter, really. Nothing matters, because Iíve lost my brother, and thatís what my life is right now.
In the last week, the fates decided to step in and give me an ideal opportunity to visit my favourite city for the second time this year. Itís an opportunity I kind of looked askance at, and then shrugged my shoulders and took anyway, because if thereís anything that JournalCon taught me, itís that distance can be a strengthening thing. Still and all, while the trip does give me a lovely little frisson, I canít say that Iím overcome with anticipation yet.
So Iím to have new hair, and an out-of-the-blue holiday, but I donít have my life back, because my heart still hurts every second of the day. Iím not stupid; I know Iím not going to get over this by grasping at the strings of my usual brand of silliness, but I want to start remembering my brother without the pain, and how am I supposed to do that if all I can see and all I can hear is the pain?
And thenÖ and thenÖ
Today, some errands needed to be run, some things needed to be bought. I had to plunk myself into the centre of the maddening crowds, and the thought of it was horrifying. The sound systems in the malls have already begun pumping out carols that I object to around this time, even in the best of years, because itís the beginning of November for Christís sweet sake. Some of us arenít even wearing poppies yet Ė how on earth can they be thinking of holly already? Cheerful songs about sleigh rides in the snow which merely irritated me last year were agony this time around, because dammit, who gives a flying bit of bile about bloody Christmas? Regardless, errands were run, and on a whim and a sale, I made a purchase that made me smile for about three seconds. Then, I put the bag in the car and didnít really think about it until an hour ago, because shopping was only a distraction, a way to kill time until the appointed hour at the hospital.
This evening, my family and I had an appointment to speak to the doctor who worked on Frankie on this night one month ago. The autopsy report isnít done yet, and there are still questions about his twenty-five year old heart, and how it ignored the rules of youth and failed to bounce back, and really, she couldnít give us anything that was Official or Absolutely Conclusive. But she gave us Something.
She gave us a lot more than what we had, which was Nothing, an aching vat of questions and absolutely no answers. She told us that Frankie had been quietly sick for a long time, and that it hadnít been caught for a variety of reasons, largely having to do with the fact that his youth discouraged a lot of suspicion. She told my sister and me that what he had was possibly genetic, and she recommended that we get thoroughly checked. She told us that because his sickness was so far along, even if he had survived that night, his quality of life would have gone downhill. He would have to have been on medication, and he would have been under a cardiologistís regular care for the rest of his life, and almost certainly, at some point, my poor sweet brother would have required a heart transplant.
And so this is what we have: in all likelihood, Frankie left us at 25 because he was at his peak, at his best, and anything life had to offer the bad hand heíd already been dealt would have hurt him, and us to watch it happen. Was his death a blessing? I canít even begin to go down that road yet; Iím simply not ready. But itís Something.
It doesnít bring him back. By God, even with this new information, the very worst and selfish parts of me want him back, because I miss him with an intensity that makes me shudder and grasp at the air in front of me. It doesnít stop my tears, and I dread climbing into bed tonight because I will most certainly think and mull and dwell, and then I will cry, and then I will dream and, once again, I will relive that horrible, horrible day while I sleep. And tomorrow will be more of the same.
But Iím sitting here, with todayís Something in my head, which is a whole lot better than yesterdayís Nothing, and Iím looking at this afternoonís impulse buy, which are boots of the softest Italian leather.
Theyíre gorgeous, and theyíre red and at some point, Iím pretty sure that there will come a day when I canít wait to put them on.
Itís not much, but itís something.
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