Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thank You, Pat

I sat here a minute ago and realized I'm happy. I'm not above fleeting moments of emotional negativity, but those feelings no longer consume me. The bed is no longer the only thing holding me up. I wake up excited for the day. Who knew that was possible?

Katie knows it. This morning I turned to find her nestled between Will and me in our king sized bed. My movement must have woken her. She opened her eyes and smiled. After a few silent seconds she startled me with such a wide-awake voice, saying, "Is it morning yet?"

She shot up in bed when I told her it was. "Yay, it's morning! Good morning, Sun! Good morning Sawyer! You can give me as many good morning kisses you want."

Will turned and smiled at us. His warm, deep voice still groggy, he said, "Good morning" with just enough force you knew it wasn't an option. He had dressed up as Mario for Katie's classroom Halloween party yesterday. He even shaved his full beard, leaving a long, thick mustache no fake mustache that comes with the costume could match. We entered the classroom and twenty little five year old faces beamed at him and several voices could be heard shouting, "Mario! It's Mario!" It's stuff like that Will does that makes me fall further in love with him each day. Further.

Nearly a year ago I couldn't get out of bed. Even with these two adorable, wonderfully amazing people lying next to me, egging me on. When you're sucked into that overwhelming vat of emptiness, all you're capable of feeling is guilty that you can't fake happiness for your family. You want them to know your sadness has nothing to do with them. It's like having a cold. Being under the weather. No matter who you have loving you, reminding you how wonderful life is, wanting you to enjoy it with them, you can't. Not that deep down you don't want to. You simply can't until you get over your illness.

It takes time. Just like getting over anything.

My brother died of liver failure in January. He was 49. Alcohol was his coping method of choice against this harsh life. It helped him get through the night alright, and it also sped up the ending of his life. His fiancee had died a month prior to his diagnosis. He missed her. He grieved and drank heavily and knew what he was doing. When he started swelling up like his fiancee had before she died, my brother confessed he wanted to be with her. He was tired of this life. He didn't have time to get over the grief of losing her to make a sober decision to stop drinking and have a liver transplant.

I don't know what happens to us after we die. I hope we don't just turn into dirt. But even if we do, at least we'll still be part of the cycle of life, keeping the plants and detritivores alive. So that's not so bad.

I hope there's a little more though. I don't expect harps, although that would be lovely. I don't expect everyone to wear white robes, because, you know, some people like purple. My brother would want a purple robe. I don't expect to finally know all the answers to life's big mysteries. If I didn't have the big questions to ponder, what would I do with my time? I guess I could learn how to play the harp.

But I do hope I get to mingle with my loved ones after I die. I'd like to see my brother and his fiancee dancing in the clouds to their song. Just as I'd like to see my grandpa. I'd pick him out of a crowd of angels by the smell of his cigarette. I'd hug him and point out that he still had holes in his shirt where the ashes would fall from his cigarettes.

I don't know if I'll get to encounter my grandfather, my brother, or anyone else in the afterlife. I hope so. Regardless, my time on this earth feels more fragile now, and therefore more valuable. In that way, my brother's death was a rebirth for me. He gave up on this life and it made me appreciate this imperfectly wondrous world. He died and it made me want to live more. I feel blessed and ready to get out of bed.

It's taken nearly a year of grieving my brother's death for me to feel back to my regular state of mental health. I wish my brother had that kind of time to grieve. Survivor's guilt won't slow down this spinning globe or make time stop until I'm ready to spin with it, so I'll just say to my brother, "Thank you, Pat" and leave it at that.