When you lose a loved one, it’s hard to pick up the pieces. At times it feels as though I’m scrambling to grab any remaining memories, special moments, inside jokes – anything. The way he walked, how his arms wrapped around my legs when it was time for a hug, the way his eyes lit up when I picked him up from school, and his infectious giggle. His sweet soft voice, the way he almost always sneezed three times in a row, the way his hands fit in mine when I washed them when we crossed the street, and especially when we walked down the stairs together. At this stage of my grief journey, I’m holding on to anything I can.
The holiday season was practically made for Bubba – or at least he thought so. Family gatherings became a showcase, and he was the main character. No matter the party or who was there, he was always the center of attention. Being an only child for the majority of my life and then suddenly having a little brother was an adjustment, and it would be a lie to say I wasn’t a tad bit jealous. Every year, his gifts stacked up under the tree, putting my presents to shame. Gift after gift after gift. He was showered in love and spoiled rotten. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Crazy enough, I’m accustomed to sudden change. I’ve moved from state to state, changed schools multiple times, and each time I’ve bounced back and adapted to my new environment. But the passing of my little brother is a change I never could’ve prepared myself for. Undoubtedly, the first year is the hardest. Honestly, I don’t know if it’ll ever feel the same. The apple of our eye and the life of the family is simply – not here. It’s an indescribable feeling knowing something is missing and not being able to put it back in place.
He’s been gone for almost 10 months now, and it feels like what’s left of life before has been put in a cardboard box, flipped around, and shaken profusely. It’s up to me now to unpack this box and put its contents back in order. But truthfully, I don’t know how. I guess it goes back to what I mentioned earlier. I must tightly hold onto the memories and love I felt being a sister to the best little brother in the world.
Although Thanksgiving and Christmas will feel empty without my brother, I’ll go on as if he’s still here. I’ll pretend he’s still riding around the house on his baby tricycle, going entirely too fast. I’ll pretend he’s still messing with the ornaments on the Christmas tree, separating the ball from the hook and leaving me to put them back on. And I’ll pretend he’s still here to go around giving hugs to all the grandparents at Christmas dinner, stealing their hearts in the process. I’m grateful that I have these small memories to recall. These small memories add up to create a bigger picture. A clear image of my brother and all that he was.
Life without him has been a journey but I’m working my way through day by day, moment by moment.