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In the Stillness We Remember

If you stare straight at the sun, it burns your eyes. And so it is when you lose someone you love.

It’s been a year now. There is a yawning crater where once there was an incredible person, and it’s difficult to navigate. John was a unique blend; he had the wisdom of a village elder coupled with the energy and enthusiasm of a puppy. He was a shooting star in the Milky Way, someone we gazed at in wonder. His friend said God needed John to liven things up in heaven, and that seems to be the only explanation that makes any sense.

If I ruminate over those last moments together, or the injustice of it, or just the fact that he is gone, it scorches my heart and torches my mind. Reality blinds me as though I’m gazing, unblinkingly, into the sun. Life becomes a game: do what you can without thinking about it.

It’s easier for me. I’m thousands of miles away and have three kids to distract me. Much harder for his wife and children, and for our mother.

But still, I have trouble living in a world without my brother, who was no less a superhero to me than Superman himself. Some days are more successful than others. The minutia of life keeps me away from my thoughts, and I skate along the surface of life, doing what needs to be done. Occasions are trickier. When his two children graduated from university last month, I’d guess their focus was more on the one person missing in the audience, than the occasion at hand.

Times like these, waves of memories are too strong to be swept aside. The thin ice that I skate on gives way to shockingly cold water.

The thing about grief is that it doesn’t abate in a clean, linear line, once the empties have been cleared from the funeral reception. It’s more like the tide; it stems and flows and visits you relentlessly. It is a common misnomer that time heals all wounds. Time doesn’t heal anything. Grief hovers beneath the surface of your life, it’s just a matter of how good you become at masking it.

Of course, I don’t want to forget. I will never forget. Who could forget? His smile. His energy. His wit. His intelligence. His light. His magnetism. He was one in a million. He was one in a lifetime. No, I will not ever forget. If grief means remembering, then so be it. I will learn to shield my eyes when I stare at the sun.

And still, I know. John is in the whisper of the wind, the whitecaps on the lake, and in the beautiful blooms in his garden. He’s absent from this physical world, but lives on in our hearts. Someone of his magnitude, who made an indelible mark on so many lives, can never be gone. He’s everywhere.

  1. June 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Oh, Deanna, you are so right to compare grief to the waxing and waning of the tide. I hadn’t thought of that, but it perfectly describes my own experience of grief. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. Blessing to you and your family! I’m still so, so sorry for your loss.

    • June 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      Yes, it’s still hard to believe – thanks, Kathy.

  2. June 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Beautifully said…and heart breaking.

    • June 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Our family is still in shock, a year later. Thanks, Ruthie.

  3. Laurie
    June 7, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Deanna, this is an incredible tribute to your brother. So much love. So beautifully expressed.

    • June 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      So much more love from people who don’t happen to have blogs to write about it – I’m one of many!

  4. MaryBeth Curry
    June 8, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Yes Dee your words echo my thoughts….life does go on but it feels soo incredibly empty and dull without our BRIGHT STAR.I pray that we will continue to be strengthened by the memories and try to get back to living as John would want us to..remember he s with Dad .Thanks for a beautiful tribute…Love MaryBeth

    • June 8, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      With decisions, I now ask myself, “What would John do?” – because you know he would do the right thing, everytime.

  5. June 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I am sorry for the loss of your brother. I think that the first year after a death moves slowly and the “first” birthdays, father’s day, family holidays without your loved one are difficult. You wrote a loving tribute to your sibling, the person in life with whom you spent your childhood and more. (a subject we wrote about this week on Grown and Flown.) Thank you.

    • June 8, 2012 at 6:39 pm

      Thanks – he was special in so many ways, it’s hard to explain. I expect all occasions, from now on, won’t be the same. A new normal.

  6. June 21, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    I can’t believe it’s been a year. Sometimes that pain and loss doesn’t lose it’s newness so quickly. This was a a beautiful tribute to your brother.

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