Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Six Months

When Carlos arrived home from work on October 9th, 2013 he walked inside, his face stricken with pain. I immediately asked him what was wrong, and he said we needed to sit down. I remember him frantically guiding me to the couch, his hands holding mine. We sat together while the words seemed to take forever to come.

Finally, he said "Anna, David died."
My heart stopped. My breath was taken from me. 
Immediately I replied, "David, David who??" 
Carlos replied, "David, your brother." 

The memory of the gut-wrenching "NO" that exclaimed from my mouth moves me to tears as I write this. The violent opposition that I felt to losing my brother was instantaneous. 

It is all a haze after that: talking to my parents, speaking with my siblings, frantically packing my suitcase and that horrific 4 hour drive home to Iowa. It was a nightmare, a tragic seemingly never-ending nightmare. 

Now, 6 months later I sit on that same couch and reflect. 6 months later I'm working at a new job, newly accepted to graduate school, doing projects around our apartment, and preparing for my aunt's wedding. It has been 6 months since losing David, and somehow I've begun to live again. 

It's ironic because I know that the Anna I was October 9th, is so very different from the Anna that I am today. When David died, a piece in all who loved him also died. When I lost my brother, I lost myself. 

This is grief. This is true loss. It is the most intimate un-veiling of who you are. Everything is stripped away and you must decide how to re-build. It's an opportunity for re-birth and renewal, in a beautiful sense it is your loved ones parting gift, until you meet again. 

I can never be who I used to be and when I try to describe how I am different, I really can't. Maybe I'm more serious, more introspective, more mindful or conscientious? I also feel more appreciative, creative, loving, and hopeful. 

What I do know is that I'm more sure of myself now than I was then. I know what is important to me, and recognize the necessity to show appreciation. David's death has challenged me to be better. 

David's absence in our world has highlighted his presence in my heart. 

Today I close with the message of a incredibly beautiful person: my, and David's, mother. The following thoughts have been adapted from a letter written by Ram Dass to his friends who lost their child to a violent death.

"For David's family and dear friends,

David finished his work on earth, and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts, as the fragile thread of our faith is dealt with so violently. Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teaching as you are receiving? Probably very few. And even they would only have a whisper of peace a midst the screaming noise of their grief, horror and desolation.

I cannot take away your pain with any words, nor should I. For your pain is David's legacy to you. Not that he or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is. And it must burn its purifying way to completion. For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable, and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love as God loves.

Now is the time to let your grief find expression. No false strength. Now is the time to sit quietly and speak to David, and thank him for the time you shared, and encourage him to go on with whatever his work is, knowing that you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience.

In my heart, I know that you and he will meet again. And when you meet you will know, in a flash, what now it is not given to you to know: Why this had to be the way it was.

Our rational minds can never understand what has happened, but our hearts– if we can keep them open to God – will find their own intuitive way. David came to all who love him here to do his work on earth, which includes his manner of death. Now his soul is free, and the love that you can share with him is invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space.

'We feel that this piece - with its core message - was brought to our attention just in time to share for the six month anniversary of the world's great loss of David. Many times and in many ways we have felt that David is walking beside us on this journey. We pray that God will continue to hold us all as we go forward.

Val Lucas - David's Mom'"

Thank you to my Mom for sharing this beautifully impactful message. 

David's place in my heart is sending love to all his loved ones tonight. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Day

Today is April 1st:  April Fool's Day. It's a fitting title for how I feel today. I feel like this has all been one big prank. Nearly 6 months of walking in someone else's shoes: shoes that my feet could slide into, but rubbed in the most painful way.
In fact, David even came back to me in my dream last night. Our whole family was together and we tried to not overwhelm him with our excitement. Slowly we filled him in on all that's happened these last 6 months, our words overshadowed by our great relief that it was only temporary.

In my dream I shared with him that I had begun writing. I told him about "Loving David" and commented it was going to be a very interesting twist now that he had returned. We discussed options for the future of the blog and David offered to co-write with me: him sharing about his experience, and me sharing mine. Eventually maybe we would get it published in a book. It would document this great experiment of many people's reality: many people's reality, but definitely not ours. 
I woke up this morning and laid awake in bed for awhile. Replaying the events of the night over in my head, remembering David's presence in my dream and the great excitement we shared for our new endeavor together. 
I am missing my brother tonight. I feel sad that I will never get the opportunity to be with David again. We aren't able to have a conversation, much less write a book together. It's amazing that after what feels like an eternity, it doesn't get any better. It simply changes to be more manageable and less consuming. It is a reality that will most likely never feel real. It's a story that will never feel my own, much less my brother David's. 
Riding home from work today, the words "David is gone, David is gone" played through my head. It was as if they were an old plot of a story I read long ago, or a recognizable tune, to a song whose lyrics I no longer knew. 
Tonight, like most, I am missing my brother David: I'm holding tight to my memory of him and sending him all my love.

Playground of Grief

it was shock and raw pain, 
alternating like a seesaw: 
up and down and up and down.
Back and forth 
like a game of tug-o-war 
you were pulled.
You're caught in the middle 
of the hula hoop, 
going 'round and 'round 
as emotions and feelings 
came upon you like a tidal wave.
Treading in a pool of hardship, 
paddling to stay afloat.
You bobbed and bobbed, 
every time coming back up for air.
Knowing every time that the tears would stop 
and the pain would melt away.