Sunday, April 26, 2015

Phantom Grief

I've been trying to wrap my head around my grief and feelings to write this post. I just couldn't do it yesterday. Why? It's the anniversary of my brother's death. All week, well month really, without even consciously thinking about it, I've been seeing things everywhere that remind me of Timmy. Everywhere I went, there was a man with his coloring and his age (then, not what he would be now.) It broke my heart, caused my chest to seize, and almost brought me to my knees at one point.

I've become adept at hiding my deeper feelings. Anger leeks through the most, but, as a child, I learned that showing my vulnerability only caused me to hurt more, to have the adults manipulate me. As an adult, I have seen much difference. Except now, I can leave those that do the most harm. So, when these feelings hit, when I start having weird dreams that are sometimes exactly about him, or in a round about way, or about something else serious, I put it out of my mind.

Until I can't anymore.

I woke up Saturday not wanting to face the day. We have had a couple of stressful weeks. No food because we paid off a loan so we could get a different one to buy a car, stock up on necesseties, get my kids beds (two of my kids had been sleeping on couch because after the move, we didn't have enough beds. They had to be thrown out.), and get a steam cleaner. We made good investments, but now we're without money again and a birthday coming up. So, I attributed it to not being able to get my passport, the discover pass, and fishing licenses we wanted yet. But, as the day wore on, so did my sadness.

I think you need to know, I'm not only fairly pragmatic about being poor, I am gifted at making our dollars stretch. So this was weird to be feeling that sadness when I was so happy about the rest. Quite trippy on some levels.

When it hit me, I felt like doing that V8 commercial and slapping my own forehead. See, April has traditionally been sucky months. For this year, if the worst that happens is that I was hungry for 10 days and my kids had more top ramen than I like, I'll be thankful. For an idea of what I mean, check out my hashtag, #effoffApril here in my blogs. I don't know how long the twitter caches work, but I had a rip roaring couple of Aprils in my life, not counting ones like this one. Being hungry for 10 days while pretending things are all right to everyone, isn't my idea of fun, but the others were way worse. (I did finally tell a few close friends about me being hungry. My son found out I didn't eat for a couple of days because I wasn't sure when our money would arrive, and he wasn't happy with me.)

I hadn't planned on writing a blog post, but then, while talking to my friends, I realized that maybe it would be good for others to know. And here's where I come to why I needed to write this post.

Phantom Grief

This is what I call that grief you wake up with because you have to relive the moment that someone you loved is dead. See, while sleeping, I'd dream he was there, his laughter, his irreverent sense of humor, his love for life, his steadfastness, and most, his acceptance of me. He was good to me, the connection to my adopted family. Without him, I pretty much lost them. I'd basically lost them before, but his death was a slice of a chord. Many hurts surround that time. Like not being told of trips for his ashes, and other stuff. So, for me, it's like facing that as well. That rejection.

But, it happened years ago. My brother died years ago. How can this grief be real? He wasn't there last night. We didn't meet up with our kids born weeks apart and compare how beautiful and wonderful they are. We didn't go to the fair with them. We didn't FB chat, or have dinner. None. Of. It. Happened. Yet, IT DID. I felt every moment, every heartbeat, as if I got to see his little girl, hear her laughter (I've not seen her since a baby), and hear their laughter echo together. I got to heal a little bit of the wound from knowing I will never fit in somewhere that he did so effortlessly. That being constantly misjudged and misaligned for things you didn't do as well as things you did, whether you meant them the way someone took you or not, is forgiven and the breach has been bridged.

He loved life. Loved laughter. Loved his family. He was the joy, the strength. I really believe he was the best of us and died way to soon. But, in my dreams, in my heart, you live on, little brother. You are loved.

How can I be grieving him now, as if he just died, when he died so many years ago? Because, for a little while in the night, he was real, solid, here. Phantom though he may be, he lived again, if only in my dreams.

And phantom or no, the grief is real.

My new life, my new way of doing things, is a testament to him, even though it wasn't a conscious choice to be. I am aiming to make my life better, to see the positive, let go of the negative. I'm not perfect. I have a lot of grief and anger stored up from years of abuse, neglect, and rejection. However, my new life is about joy, love, happiness, and getting what I want out of life for myself and my family.

Maybe that's why he's living in my dreams so often now--not grief, but love, joy.

Welcome, little brother, living phantom, play hard and laugh.

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