Fortitudine vincimus

Monday, October 8, 2018

The truth about vanishing


This isn’t your typical status update, but it will explain why there have been no updates lately. I’m hoping it will not only give some insight into what I’m doing, but if you’re going through something similar, I hope you’ll understand you’re not alone.

My brother dealt with a variety of health problems from birth, when he was resuscitated twice, and needed assistance with daily life. Thankfully we had a local organization that could do that, so I could focus on hanging out with him, helping him through our mother’s death, and acting as his protector and advocate. Many of my major adult decisions were altered based on my lifelong mission, given to me by our mother, to be there for him.

On a Tuesday in February, he didn’t wake up.

I’m told what I’m facing is called “complicated grief”. Not only have we lost other family members in the last couple of years, and not only did I lose my dog of 11 years just weeks ago, but my relationship with my brother was very interwoven with my regular thought process. I don’t really know how to make major decisions without considering how they will impact him. So my brain metaphorically shut down, partly in self defense, and partly because it really doesn’t know what to do now. And because I like to make plans and decisions, I’m not doing my best when it comes to adjusting to this new life.

I will. Eventually. People do it all the time. At the moment it takes most of my capacity to do a good job at work, which leaves next to nothing for writing or anything like it once I’m home.

All of my works-in-progress remain. I simply don’t have the energy to handle them right now. I appreciate the patience. If you are going through something like this, I send you my very best. We will do this together.

Below is a thread I posted to Twitter that wraps up my feelings fairly well. I hope to be back on my game soon, but I’m in no position to promise for now.

“If he was here, my brother would be trying to talk me into a trip to Cowboys Stadium. But he’s not, because just over a month ago, he didn’t wake up. You learn a lot about grief in those small moments of realization. Like…

Even if your brother’s health indicated he wouldn’t live a long life, death is always brand new. It doesn’t matter how much you try to prepare, when it happens it is still a surprise.

You can feel great one moment and realize the next that you have been staring at the hotel room wall for the past hour. Grief is not linear. It sweeps along paths that don’t always seem to connect.

There’s missing your cousins who didn’t outlive you, there’s missing your mother who was taken by ALS, there’s missing lost friends, and there’s missing your special needs brother, and none are the same. Grief is liquid and fills each cup differently.

It puts you under the covers, reminds you what matters, makes you hate the air, reminds you to breathe. Grief is a monster who cuts you while he makes you appreciate that there are still days to grow. Both terrible and intrinsic to life.

Most importantly, the grief didn’t make the bad thing happen. It is the result. So don’t hate yourself for grieving. It’s just one of the hardest parts of the beauty of being human.”

Stand above,

Christy Summerland

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