Today is the anniversary of Brad’s death. I am always emotional on July 20. I woke up feeling sad. It’s been 11 years, which seems surreal.
I sometimes worry that I will forget what his voice sounded like or that I won’t remember his facial expressions. Other times, I feel guilty because I don’t think about him as much as I used to. I actually think this is a good thing, even though the guilt creeps in, and here’s why:
July 20 was the most hellacious day of my life. I’ve never felt grief like that before. At first, I would cry so hard that I’d make myself sick – literally. I would hide in my room from the rest of the world, feeling awful… being sucked into the black hole in my heart.
Thinking of him is one thing. Thinking of the aftermath is something else. So, when I say that it’s a good thing that I don’t think of him as much as I used to – it’s because for a long time, it was all wrapped into one… thinking of Brad was directly linked to hurt and pain. Thankfully, I am now able to separate the two.
Thinking of him looks like this: a bright, clear blue sky. Us on the boat. The sun beaming down, water sparkling and a grin on Brad’s face as he tilts his head toward the warmth and closes his eyes. Every time I think of him, that same image appears: Sunshine.
Thinking of the aftermath looks like this:
The hurt in my uncle’s eyes, the first time I saw my aunt after it happened, the piercing pain in my chest, my sister’s face crumbling with sadness, my grandma holding my hand at the funeral while people handed me birthday cards, my younger cousin withdrawing from the family and then becoming an asshole. The fucking aftermath…
I still feel sad and heartsick because I miss him but now, I am more aware. I also know that I’m not “cured” from depression. I will always be more fragile on this day. It’s something that I have to be conscious of. The triggers set off episodes. Triggers are the hard things in life that cause your thoughts to spiral out of control. Some of my worst episodes were on July 20 – the day he died – and July 22 – the day of Brad’s funeral (and also my birthday). The triggers will always be there, and I understand that I need creative outlets to deal with them… writing is one way. Meditation through the hoop is another. These outlets keep me in check.
Chrissy wrote something in the Brad book that comforts me (The Brad book is the journal that stays at his cross)… “May the sun always shine on you.” I know that the sun IS always shining on Brad, because when I think of him now, I can’t see him any other way.