May 1st was the 28th heavenversary of my brother Andrew’s death. To the average person reading this, you might think,
“Man…that’s a long time! He’s still a thing? Aren’t you over that by now?”
Why yes, insensitive person. I am still talking about him because here’s the thing: I still miss him. He is still my brother. I just got frustrated he wasn’t here…again.
A few weeks ago I had a dream of my brother and cousin, Joseph. I can’t tell you the last time I had an Andrew dream. It wasn’t even a poignant dream filled with a deep hidden messages. It was pretty basic, to tell you the truth. There was a big room, and as the “current me” walked through the room, I saw a console-type table and under it sat Andrew and Joseph, knees up to their chests, laughing and giggling like fools. That’s it. Years and years since my last Andrew dream and that is what I got. Brother.
Over the years, the times my brain has circled back to Andrew have come and gone. I feel like I didn’t think of him that much in college or my 20’s. What changed for me was having kids. As my girls have gotten older, we’ve talked about Andrew more and a fresh wave of loss hits me. That is the problem with grief–it isn’t actually ever over. Stupid grief.
If you’ve never lost someone close to you, man are you lucky. If you have, my heart breaks for your loss. I understand. Losing a sibling is a weird predicament to be in. Very few people are in this position and understand it, even fewer have lost a sibling as a kid. Off the top of my head, I know three people who have lost siblings at an early age. I never thought about grief and how it would still affect me 28-stinking-years later. I thought it would just “POOF!” evaporate. Sure, I thought about those big moments Andrew would miss like my wedding, being an uncle to my kids, and helping me when our dad is old and cranky (pray for me…oh, hi dad.) I didn’t think about how my kids would miss out on Uncle Andrew taking them to Skyzone or the zoo.
Today is the one-year Heavenversary of my Papa Bear passing away. He died 18-years and one-week after his lovely wife. I’ve lost 3/4ths of my grandparents now and Grandpa’s death last year was surprisingly hard. This past year has been one of my hardest ever (COVID-19 and Andrew’s death aside) and Grandpa has stayed with me. This past year I’ve had dozens of dreams with Grandpa in it. The day after his funeral I experienced a personal issue that mixed up several kinds of grief and man, that stuff is hard to untangle!
At Grandpa’s viewing, I remember walking up to the casket and looking at this imposing man, now a little less imposing. I thought of my grandma and how close I was too her. I thought about how good he cared for her. How good he cared for me, his only (“and prettiest” he would say) grandaughter. That day in the funeral home fresh waves of grief hit me for Andrew, Grandma, and now Grandpa. I realized that the people that knew Andrew would eventually be gone. They will only continue to dwindle. That was a shocking truth that I never even thought about. Eventually, I might be the last woman standing.
Even now, 28-years later, I am still discovering new layers to this grief thing. What a dumb word, grief.