“I did not go through pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receiving decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it.” –Gerald L. Sitter
The rain pounds on the tin roof of the garage, pouring off the edge in small waterfalls. It is rainy and muddy again, the driveway has been muddy all winter and with the onset of spring there seems to be no relief. The house extends the same resolution with a constant stream of muddy foot prints on the dark teak wood floor. Even the dogs have settled into their bed with the resolution that playing outside today is out of the question. On days like this, I miss my brother. I miss the way he always made me laugh and I feel quite alone on this planet without him. On days like this, I long for to hear his voice and feel the lost feeling that we could do anything together. He has been gone for a couple years now and the deep grief has lifted. Memories of him make me smile and the tears stay in the back of my eyes instead of spilling out onto my cheeks. The feeling that I am navigating the world alone remains. Like the last Mohican, I struggle to make sense of these feelings for I am married with three grown children, but the severed connection I had with my brother has left me wanting. His loss has become part of my identity, part of who I am. It has made me into a different person than I was. It colored the portrait of my life with a deeper hue, adding a dimension that makes life more pronounced, it heightened experiences with shades of gratitude, and highlighted small things I often took for granted before his passing.
I have learned to forgive, to release guilt and shame and to love myself. These were not lessons that came easily but they finally settled deep. They changed who I am and who I will become in the years ahead. Like the Last Mohican, I will forge on with a fighting spirit. I will love, forgive, cry, and be thankful for every minute I have left on this planet…..and yes, I will also miss my brother, for we were meant to navigate this world side my side.
The footprints my brother tracked into my life were not made of mud that can be mopped and swept out. They were made with indelible ink, marking and decorating my very being. Shading my life with sorrow, deepening my emotional rainbow with colors never before felt, and in so doing I absorb and process and love with more empathy!