The Day After

There were moments today when I got busy, and would forget.  I had to wash laundry, clean, and pack for the upcoming trip.  What was the weather going to be like?  Do I pack shorts or jeans?  How many days would we be gone?  How many outfits would the boys need?

Then I would remember why I am going on this trip, and I would start to cry.

I would open Facebook and see a new photo of Chris that someone had posted.  At first glance, the photos would make me smile.  Chris did not put on a phony grin for photos.  His pictures were full of life, like he was coming through the picture right at you. Then reality would hit me.  Every single picture was a reminder that he is really gone, and I’m not going to see him again.

My sons are four and six.  When I first told them, they didn’t seem to comprehend the news.  They asked what would happen to Flynn, Chris’s dog.  A wave of relief came over them when I said Grandma Jo would keep and take care of Flynn.

But it couldn’t be that easy.   My husband was tucking Liam in last night.  Liam began to cry.  He has been fearful of dying before, and Chris’s passing reignited that flame.  Liam said he kept trying to seal off the bad thoughts, but they were too powerful and kept crashing in.

This morning, Liam was eating his cereal, and again began to cry.  He started repeating “I never want to die.  Never ever.  I want it all to be  dream.”  I reminded him that he was young and healthy and did not have to worry about dying for a long time.  But he just kept saying he didn’t want to die ever.

In the past, I have never wanted to push beliefs on him.  I told him about different ideas people have for what happens after death, and that he could choose what felt right to him.  I told him I didn’t know exactly what happened, but that I believe we go on in some form.

Today, I began to wonder if he needed more than that.  I attempted to tell him about heaven.

“Some people think we don’t really die, and that we go to a place called heaven.  They think in heaven, you get to see other people that have died.  So maybe Uncle Chris is hanging out with my dad.  That would make him really happy.”

Liam was having none of it.

“I don’t want to go to heaven, because someone who hasn’t died would see a picture of me and miss me.”

I told him if he needed to talk to someone at school, he could talk to his teacher and she would help him.

“What if she can’t help me?”

“Then she will call me and I will come and get you.”

“Then they are just going to call you as soon as I get to school.”

What could I do?  I let him stay home.

A writer friend contacted me and said how he imagined I couldn’t find the words to express what I’m feeling, and how that must feel completely unnatural for me as a writer myself.

It’s actually kind of the opposite.  I can write.  I can talk with friends via messages and social networks.  But a friend came to drop off a plant today, and I couldn’t hold a conversation with her.  I saw my in-laws this morning, and dashed out of the house before I had to get too in depth.

I can’t deal with the face to face interaction.  That makes it real.  It’s too raw and hurts too much.  I feel like an asshole for writing through it, for making comments on Facebook.  It seems so self absorbed.  I worry that I come across as a charlatan acting out pain.  I desperately need the connection- to hear from people that loved him.  But only to a point.  I can only handle it in this one dimensional level.  It’s too personal when I have to utter words instead of type them.

The outpouring of support is incredible.  I’ve never seen anything like it. It feels like he is a celebrity.  There are over 500 people planning on attending his memorial.  I don’t think I even know 500 people.  It is comforting to know he touched so many.  It feels like a bit of magic.  I’m honored to be his sister.

But mostly, I just want my brother back.  I just wish there was some way this was not true.  I know it is going to feel a lot worse before it even begins to get easier.

Keep the thoughts and prayers coming.  I know I need them, and I imagine many others do too.

Chris, if there is some way you can feel any of this, you were loved.  Your life mattered.  And boy, do I miss you.

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