Monday, April 26, 2010

Forever in my heart

Every step I take, every move I make
Every single day, every time I pray
I'll be missing you

Thinking of the day, when you went away
What a life to take, what a bond to break
I'll be missing you

On that morning, when this life is over
I know, I'll see your face . . .

Today was somewhat of a somber day for me. Definitely a day of reflection.

Today is the nine-year anniversary of my brother Jeremy's death.

No matter how many years go by, this day never gets any easier. Most days I remember my brother cheerfully, but this day is different. It can't help but be. But the more time marches on, the more I start to worry that I will somehow forget him. That my memories will get fuzzier and fuzzier until soon he has completely faded from my mind.

That's why I got my tattoo last May. So that I would have a constant visual reminder of him, every single day. And it has worked. No matter how busy I get, I catch a glimpse of that little swallow, his initials under its wing, and I remember. I remember so many things. And I smile.

Even still, I worry. The other day I was talking to my best friend about Jeremy, reminiscing a bit since she is one of the few people in my life besides family who actually knew him. At one point we were talking about how I used to braid his long, curly hair. But then I couldn't remember if he still had long hair when he died-- I don't think he did, but it unnerved me that I couldn't quite recall. I think that might be one of the biggest fears people have after they lose someone. That they will forget those precious memories. That they will forget what the person looked like, sounded like-- and because of that, they have to keep feeling the pain so that they will not forget. They can't move on because they don't want to leave that loved one behind, in the past, where the cobwebs creep into our memories.

I have, of course, moved on. Life inevitably goes on, no matter what tragedy befalls you. You laugh again, smile again, get to a point where you can talk about that person and not crumble into tears. It's a strange but necessary thing.

As I drove to the cemetery this afternoon, all these things were going through my mind. Then, for a brief moment, I felt nothing. And I got scared. I looked over to the flowers sitting on my passenger seat, in the car my brother used to drive, and I thought, "Why don't I feel sad?" Just as quickly as that thought came into my head, I shook it away, urging myself to just stop thinking-- about work, about blogging, about all the things that fill my mind on a daily basis-- and I let myself really feel. His image and my memories flooded my mind, and tears came to my eyes. A knot caught in my throat and I felt a heaviness on my heart. I laughed a little. "There it is. There he is," I told myself. "I haven't lost him. Don't worry, you can't forget because he is in your heart. Forever."

Nine years ago, at my brother's private viewing, a 16-year-old me slipped a note-- folded in the shape of a heart-- into my brother's hand. Though I've tried, I can't quite remember what I wrote then, what words I wanted Jeremy to hold onto for eternity. But I'm pretty sure I said "I miss you. I wish you were here." And I still do. After fussing with the flowers by his grave and cleaning his marker-- the things we do to keep from crying-- I told him so again.

I love you, Jeremy. I miss you. I wish you were here, big brother. I think about you all the time and I will never forget you.


kirstyb said...

lovely post xxxx

Andhari said...

This is so touching :( I'm really sorry you cried again. Of course you won't forget him ever. Even without the presence of the tattoo, I doubt you'll forget him. Love, especially to family members, usually stays forever.

bianca said...

Carissa - this was an absolutely beautiful post. As weird as it is to say "thank you", thank you for sharing it with us.

Phoenix said...

My heart aches for you. I'm so sorry...what a terrible loss.

You are so strong and brave to talk about it and deal with it openly, Carissa... I admire you for that.

Beautiful, honest post.

Erin said...

Oh Carissa,
I don't know what to say to tell you how sorry I am that you lost your brother, that he's not still here with you. My heart feels so sad reading this. Sometimes, life is just so unfair.
You've written a beautiful post. I hope it helped you to write it, and to think about your brother and honour him with your words.
I'm thinking of you and sending a hug.

Mo said...

This was so touching, honestly. I know exactly how you feel. I lost my dad at age 10 and it's been so hard for me every day. I barely knew him yet I knew him so well. I hate that I don't really know all of the things I want to ask him. I hate to think of the things I missed out on learning...could I have been an architect like him if he had been around to influence me? To teach me to draw (in which I suck at)? My first tattoo was his initials under some stars, because when I look up at the sky I know he's there smiling back at me. I know your brother is doing the same for you.

rachel said...

This is such a touching and special post -- thank you for writing it and sharing with us. xo

Kristy said...

your blogs are fantastic Carissa! Thank you for this touching personal story

bethany said...

Dear, dear, wonderful Carissa,
I made the mistake of reading this post during a rather dull art history lecture...and then found myself trying to disguise my tears in a rather silent lecture hall with approximately 70 others. Truly, you touched me. I've never lost a close family member, but I know in time every single one of us does, and your words struck me, filled me with an emotion that I'm certain one day I will have to feel. So, in the strangest way...thank you. :)

You are such a beautiful, intelligent, strong, amazing woman. Although I don't know your brother, I'm so certain he'd have been beaming with pride over his gorgeous little sister. May you never lose the memories you have of matter how bittersweet some of them may be.

So very much love, lovely girl. My heart is with you. :)

P.S. Way to be vulnerable. I love me some vulnerability in written form. :)

passport in my pocket said...

what a touching, lovely post. thank you for sharing. xo