So, here it is. THE Day.
Two years ago today, my brother had what looked like a typical day. He probably slept in a bit, after a late night at his best friend's house for a non-Easter-ish Easter. He spent some time on his computer, interacting with online friends. He talked to a few of them on the phone, ate dinner, and sat down to watch TV.
Sometime after 11:30 PM he fell asleep on the couch. Without the CPAP he used for sleep apnea; it was in the bedroom.
He never woke up.
The chain of events from April 11th through April 23rd are etched forever in my heart. Time is supposed to heal these wounds, but so far I don't see that happening.
It's now been two years since the world lost an amazing man. He often described himself as an asshole, but I think it was a smoke screen. Behind the gruff exterior and bitingly sarcastic wit, there was a man whose tenderness scared him just as it endeared him to those lucky enough to see it.
I am blessed to have had his love, support, trust, and protection for the first 34 years of my life.
Monkey--the miracle child who doctors told me would probably never be here-- was the light of his universe. His spitting image, complete with the sense of humor and impish grin, even at only seven months of age. She adored him, as most kids did. He was so beyond love for her. She changed everything.
Her mere existence created the relationship with my brother I'd always hoped to have. We'd spent so many years apart, just doing our own things. She gave us a new level of connection, a new sense of family, and an easy way to bond. We talked because we WANTED to, not because it's-your-birthday-so-I'm-calling-you.
Today, now two years after her uncle left this world, Monkey is a vibrant and amazing toddler. She has already shown a knack for storytelling, just like her uncle. She has an unbelievable sense of comedic timing and enjoys making funny sounds and "impressions" (such as singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as Cookie Monster, which sounds remarkably like thrash metal).
There is so much of him in her, in her spirit and spunk and FEROCIOUS sense of independence.
I will miss him all the days of my life, just as I will love my amazing little girl. It is impossible not to draw parallels.
In the strangest demonstration of irony, the loss of my only brother has filled my life with people I would never have met--or certainly, not have become so close to-- who now form the safety net of love and support that has been keeping me from completely collapsing into the void in my life from losing him.
Friends of the family I'd lost contact with came to the memorial service. We reconnected, and they are now a seamless extension of my primary family. Monkey spends her days with them while her dad and I are at work, and I am eternally grateful for that.
My brother's extremely close group of friends--together since kindergarten--have accepted me as their surrogate little sister. Monkey *IS* their niece. She is surrounded by their love and support and immersed in their shared history and love for my brother.
Counselors advise that to move on from a devastating loss, you must find the positive and cling to that. I am trying, SO very hard, to do just that. Some days are better than others.
Today is hard.
So...if you are lucky enough to wake up tomorrow morning, be grateful for that gift.
* Share your time and thoughts and feelings and talents--both with the people you love, and absolute strangers.
* Take nothing for granted, because life is short, and people leave us far too soon, far too often.
* LIVE each day. LOVE each day. Tell the important people in your life what they mean to you.
* Eat dessert.
* Hug your kids. Call your parents.
* Kiss your honey goodnight. AND good morning.
* Remember what matters. Let go of what doesn't.
* Know that no one is ever REALLY gone, if those left behind keep him/her in their hearts.
...Likewise, no one is ever really HERE, if you don't allow yourself to fully feel, and live, and love... and lose.