“I think we’re getting together on Sunday to visit the grave.” I had to pause for a moment after hearing my mom’s voice through the phone. Of course. The grave. The anniversary. How could I have forgotten? Well, I didn’t forget. I just wasn’t thinking about it at the time. All the time. Like I used to. Has it really taken me 13 years to reach this point? More than a decade for most of my thoughts during the months of September through October to not send me into a downward spiral? Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?
Perhaps, it’s been rattling around in my mind, creeping around corners and ducking under tables when the lights are turned on. Whispering to me, instead of shouting. Have I ignored it? Or have I moved on? No. I can’t move on, can I? What does that even mean? Part of me rejoices at the thought, while the other cajoles myself for even thinking this way. “How could you? It’s betrayal. Keep the memory alive.”
My brother was 29 when he committed suicide. Just 54 days after his birthday. My 29th birthday was 45 days ago. Can I imagine feeling so alone, so sad, so desperate, that I would put a gun to my head, and pull the trigger? No. I have too much to live for. I’m too young. So was he. But I didn’t realize that at the time. I was 16. He seemed old. Almost 30. Hadn’t he lived a full life? No. Not nearly long enough.
There’s so much about him I’ll never know. What was his favorite color? I never thought to ask. My preschooler would have wanted to know. She’s obsessed with knowing everyone’s favorite color. He drove a red hatchback. He played a red electric guitar. He wore his red letter jacket all the time. So, I guess his favorite color was red. But, that doesn’t really matter. But other things do. One of his favorite songs? “Baby Got Back.” Funny, I know. When it blared at a recent family wedding dance, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself, and think of him. Would he have been out there on the dance floor? Would he have shimmied his skinny 6′ 8″ frame to the beat? I think he would have. And that makes me smile.