The Kick Inside

The weather is perfect in Melbourne at the moment. Perfect for my state of mind, that is.

The sky is a dull grey, and the weather alternates between downpours of rain and little bursts of sun that seem promising for an hour or so, but then give way to more clouds and, eventually, rain again. It’s been like this for weeks.

Well, if this is how summer is going to be in Melbourne this year, it will completely fit with how I feel. Just like this crappy weather, my emotional landscape has a limited range: from a thunderstorm of tears, to overcast numbness where I appear to feel nothing, to a mild burst of sun, that only lasts a short time before the sky becomes grey again.

Keeping within this metaphor, I have to admit that, 10 weeks on from my brother’s death, thunderstorms are less frequent now. It is just constantly overcast and dull, with frequent downpours. Always clouded by the knowledge that my little brother has died.

I can even manage to enjoy myself, as much as I might not want to admit it. But I always have the sense that something heavy is hanging over me. It’s the knowledge that someone I loved deeply is gone from my life.

And if I’ve been really absorbed for ages – by work, or by making the concerted effort to socialise cheerfully for hours – the realisation comes back with more strength when I leave, or maybe the next day. As if it needs to butt in and be given some attention. As if I’d forgotten completely and am only just remembering again. Oh, that’s right – John is dead.


Last  Friday night I went to a Kate Bush tribute night, Up Late With Kate. I enjoyed myself – it was a fun  night – but social occasions are a test at the moment. Something always reminds me of John, no matter how obscurely. I test whether I can think about him and remain outwardly unmoved. If  I can, then I think about him a little more, until I have to stop thinking about him, and try to come back to being in the moment. The present, where he is not.

Ah yes, there’s the kick. He is not in the present. He is only in the past.

10 weeks ago, I could not comprehend that. But then, 10 weeks ago, I could not imagine ever wanting to go out again. I felt abysmal, devastated, obliterated, and I did not want to ever feel better. I did not want to be told, however kindly, that I would eventually feel better. It seemed to me that to feel better would be to accept that John was dead! To accept it and somehow move on from that!!

Every ounce of me vehemently rejected the idea that I would ever do that.

I would never accept it!  I would reject it, I would live in disbelief if that was required, I would delude myself, if that was needed, but I would never, never, be able to accept, graciously or otherwise, the fact that my beautiful brother was dead! When people told me I would eventually remember him with less pain, I felt like screaming – I don’t want to REMEMBER him! I want him HERE! NOW! ALIVE!!!

The idea that he should become just a memory was unbearable.

But, as I’m only starting to comprehend, he had already become a memory, from the moment I heard those 2 terrible words, “John died.”  I just hadn’t been able to see that then. In my head, he was alive. This John who was dead existed – or no longer existed –  in some nightmarish version of reality which I was not yet able to comprehend.

I realise now, sadly, that Time is having an effect. It is wearing through the layers of disbelief and I am gradually accepting that he is dead. By “accept”, I only mean, realise it, understand that it is a fact. Most of the time.

This, in itself, makes me sad. I feel like I’m admitting defeat in a fight that I was planning to maintain.

I had intended to never believe it.

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