It’s been three years since you died. 1095 days, 156 weeks, 36 months – infinite moments that I never believed I would survive. I remember waking up the first morning after, unable to get out of bed. It wasn’t simply my grief alone, for I remember the first week all I felt was terrified. I was born into a world where I already had an older brother waiting for me, hands stretched out as he clamored to hold me for the first time. The truth is, I didn’t know this world without you, and that thought left me paralyzed. As if not moving my body physically would somehow ensure that the world too would stop in its tracks, and perhaps once again our universes would align.
I remember spending a lot of the first week wondering when will it come. This grand revelation, a mysterious little secret, the unexplainable answer to the question: so how is it done? How have others in the past said their goodbyes and still continued to live their lives? For people have been through this before, and somehow still come out the other side. From the outside, people like me always dubbed it strength or perseverance – trying to find worldly explanations for those who were now veiled from their loved ones in the afterlife. But right after you left, I remember believing that couldn’t be all – surely they were let in on a secret, to which the rest of us were still blind.
And so I searched for answers in the words God has shared with us and I looked out for clues hidden in other grievers’ eyes. I spoke to numerous people I had never even known before, and I took my therapist’s suggestion of trying to find all the answers inside. The first week bled into a month, and then into nine, and the months bled into years until here we are today – months before I now turn twenty-five, and yet I am no closer to the answer than I was after hearing about your loss for the very first time. I’ve tried using my words to make sense of what happened, and I’ve tried finding you by asking the Divine, but I’m starting to think that perhaps there is no great revelation about outliving your grief, for that is something I’ll carry within me for as long as I am to survive.
There are no tips and tricks, nor are there uncovered mysteries or secrets – all of us are broken shells of ourselves that on some days, can find it within us to thrive. But on most days, we sluggishly move ahead, unsure of how we can keep carrying such a load and not flatline. It's not strength, nor is it a higher state of being – it's simply trial and error, and the only goal is to keep trying. It's to continually accept and respect him as he’s immortalized, and to believe that there is nothing finite about a worldly goodbye. We're all just doing our best, putting one foot in front of the other, part of a silent club none of us wants to be in, but our grief keeps us closely tied. We may not have much to offer one another, but we recognize each other from afar for we all carry a hollowness within our eyes.
That’s all there is to it – the familiarity of our brokenness but no answers to go with it. Perhaps because there are none, and three years later, I may finally be able to accept that and find consolation. It would be harder for me to know that surviving your loss could easily be broken down into steps that are simply black and white, and despite how much I crave a guide every once in a while, I am finally coming to peace with the fact that maybe carrying so much of you within is what keeps me connected to you on the other side.