Opening My Heart
“It's so curious: one can resist tears and 'behave' very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer... and everything collapses. ” ~ Colette
His birthday was this week. Yesterday, actually. My brother would have been 58 years old and we would have gone out to lunch with our mom to celebrate. It was a tradition we had started a few years ago. I always looked forward to it; lunch with Mom and Joe was always a lively occasion with much laughter. Joe made sure of it.
I miss him.
Yesterday I kept busy. I went to my piano lesson, met a dear friend for tea and conversation, attended a yoga class with another good friend. Keeping busy kept me from dwelling too much about who I was missing and why. My activities helped me get through the day with few tears.
Grief doesn't have a plot. It isn't smooth. There is no beginning and middle and end. ~Ann Hood
Today was another story. I awoke already close to tears, my heart full of sadness. As I looked out the window at yet another gray and dreary day I knew that what I needed to do was give myself permission to mourn him, to take this day to release the grief that was pressing hard within my chest.
It didn't take long for the tears to start and this day I let them come, knowing how necessary it was to allow my sorrow to express itself.
I want so much to write about what I am feeling and thinking with eloquence and clarity, but I can't. How to express how it feels like to lose my brother? We were not always close but yet we were two sides of the same coin. Cut from the same cloth, both the product of our parents' love. And even during the years where we were following our separate paths I knew that if I ever needed him, he would be there for me, just as I would be there for him.
Losing Joe feels like I have lost a part of myself.
"What happens when people open their hearts?"
"They get better." ~ Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
I hesitated to write this post today. Grief is such a private emotion and so difficult to share with others, but opening my heart to you has allowed a sense of peace to enter me. Even in grief I recognize the blessings in my life. My sister-in-law, niece and nephew, who I love dearly. The memories of Joe that make me smile. The lesson I learned from him about living each day to its fullest. The knowledge that grief, like all emotions, ebbs and flows, and with time its pain will soften and fade. Joe wouldn't want me to spend my days in sadness and regret. Life is too short for that, he would say. Look forward, and know that all will be well.
If you or someone you know are struggling with grief I highly recommend checking out Option B, a website dedicated to helping others build resilience in the face of adversity.