In-between days

As I drove to work this morning, I wondered, how can the weather have become warm and sunny overnight? Surely it has been cold, rainy, and 14 degrees, for what feels like years – suddenly, or so it seems, today it is 27 degrees! Have I been in such a haze that I missed the in-between days? It seems possible. I’ve certainly been in a haze.

I don’t want it to be hot and sunny. I want it to remain a miserable cold and grey, I want to be stuck forever in the same climate, the same time of year as it was 10 weeks ago when I was told that my brother had died.

Somehow, the sudden sunny weather seems to make it all the more incongruous that my brother should be dead. I looked up at the blue sky as I pulled away from the lights, and the same sense of bafflement hit me yet again, as though it was the sunny day that made it so perplexing – where is my brother?

How can he have just “died”? How can all this time have passed, only to discover that apparently he is still “dead”?

For a while there, I think I was holding out hope that death was not as final as what you hear.

In an email, my sister said to me, ” …I can’t believe that some of my friends still don’t know that John died. For that matter,  I can’t believe that there are strangers who don’t know it. Sometimes I want to collar a person walking past and tell them, look, this is the reality of it….”

I have felt that way too. The first time I was out in public after his funeral was really difficult. People were swarming merrily all around me at Federation Square, and I was struggling not to blubber. I was conscious also, of an urge to tell people that I was grieving. Suddenly I understood why in other cultures, people wear mourning clothes, armbands, wail, keen – why they have all those rituals to let others know that they are grieving. I almost wanted someone to notice that I was struggling, and say, with concern, “what’s wrong?” – so I could blurt out all the emotional pain I was feeling.

I wanted these strangers to know that this person, such a constant presence in my life, and the make up of my world, had been suddenly torn out of it. I wished they could know John, and what a beautiful person he was, and feel the distress that I felt, that he was gone.

To be completely honest, I wanted to make them suffer like I was suffering. I wanted everyone to feel as bad as I did. People should stop strolling and chatting and feeling carefree – people in Federation Square, Melbourne, the whole world. No-one should ever again feel happy and carefree, because my brother has died, and what’s more, one day, this will happen to each of them too.

We all know that one day, it will happen to us – someone we love deeply will die. But until it does, it’s something you hear about that happens to other people. When you hear about it, you say, “oh, that’s really sad!”

When it happens to you, really sad does not come close to covering how it is.

It is devastating. It is shock, and numbness. It is a feeling of such immense stress that you are unable to think clearly. It is all the clichés that you’ve heard, made real: you feel weighted down, you feel like you are moving in slow motion. It is a sharp stabbing pain that makes you gasp when, occasionally, reality filters through and instead of the fact that sits numbly at the surface of your mind like a lesson it is learning, “my brother is dead, my brother is dead”,  you suddenly have a deep, strong, physical memory of him – not of him doing anything in particular, just of him, the person that you knew and loved  – and, in that same moment, you understand that he is gone.

That is when you sob, but I would not call that really sad. I would call that sorrow, despair, grief, devastation.

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6 Comments

  1. goldfish

     /  October 20, 2011

    I’m sorry for your loss. 😦

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    • Thank you…..nice to hear from you again!….and thanks for even reading my post. I’m aware that most people don’t want to stop and read depressing material when they surf the internet….but it’s all that’s on my mind at the moment, so I really appreciate you taking 2.5 minutes to read all the way through!

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  2. Paul

     /  October 30, 2011

    This is a really well written blog. It’s especially impressive that you are bold enough to express your emotions, as many people would find difficulty in doing so. I am sure many readers, particularly those who may be experiencing grief themselves, will be edified by reading your posts.

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    • Thanks Paul. I notice, though, that I was a lot more articulate in September, when I was completely in shock, than I’ve been in October, as the shock has gradually dissipated and reality has slowly been sinking in. At the moment I feel as if it is completely pointless – writing about John’s death, or how I’m feeling, or anything else. So I’m glad you got something out of reading it. Thanks for letting me know! Your comments might help motivate me to continue!

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  3. I had a beautiful brother too. And he died suddenly one day, tragically, when I was nearly with him. I know well of what you speak. There are practically no words to explain the experience, which after 4 years is still so hard to believe. My feeling were much like yours. I’m afraid now that my beautiful brother, Scott, seems two dimensional. Like, was he ever even real? Did I imagine it all? My life story goes on but his has not. Nothing is new for him now. Such sadness. Anyway Maria, I started out in this comment to tell you that the experience is best described, for me, as a dark night, ( or in my case years) of the soul. Thanks for writing about it. I’ve actually been planning a blog post about this idea of loss being meaningless and random versus having a larger significance, and a great poem comes to mind that I’d like to share with you. I’ll try to work on that this week. If you want, read about my beautiful brother at my blog, ,thesongiliveby.wordpress.com, the post called ‘I will remember you, or, a shopping list is no substitute for a brother’. I’m grateful to find your blog too and will continue to read and enjoy your wonderful humour and meaningful insights. Namaste.

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    • Thanks Tandi. I happen to see the start of this comment pop up on my phone screen yesterday so I immediately checked out your blog and read your post about your brother, and commented on it. I really hate that the “idea” of my brother is becoming just that – an idea, rather than a real live person. I fear that he will become a 2 dimensional concept – like a character from a film that I’m forgetting all the detail of. Thanks for your comments…naturally my posts about my brother are very significant to me, and it’s really meaningful to me that anyone would read them and comment on them, but especially I guess because you have had such a similar experience. I kind of feel as though people don’t expect a woman to grieve so much over a brother. But maybe that’s how it is in our culture with any grieving.

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