Today is the day you died
Three years ago this day, almost to the hour, your dad and I took turns holding you in our arms as you died. In the photos, one of us is holding you while the other wraps themselves around both bodies as if trying to fuse us all together. Perhaps a final effort to save you, give you our own life force so you could keep on living. You heart kept beating on its own for far longer than any of us expected. A fact that makes me feel equal parts proud and guilty.
I think about the line from the song It’s Quiet Uptown, “if I could spare his life for mine,” and I know I would give your dad that gift if I could.
Your sister, young yet all knowing, must have a sense about the day. Must know the heaviness of my heart. Instead of going to bed quickly and without emotion, she insisted I hold her, rock her, and sing to her for close to twenty minutes.
How pain passes from one person to the next. I worry how I might have or will fuck her up with the way I am, post losing you. WIll she feel like she’s living in your shadow? Will she resent the older brother who died? Resent us for not saving him? Resent us for making sure he’s still a huge part of our lives? I don’t know. I do wonder.
This is what’s on my mind, three years out. That and, why does it feel less real as time goes on? I often have to remind myself of our time in the NICU by looking at pictures and diary entries. Watch videos of you pumping your little arms. Recall the sense of awe I felt watching your move outside of me as you should have moved in. I don’t even have to try that hard to recall the fuzziness in my brain, the headaches, the weird sense of moving through putty.
Today is the day you died. Fewer people remember this day than your birthday, which bothers me sometimes. We celebrate the day someone died with much more gusto than the day they left this Earth. Or rather, become one with the Earth, as you are in your sweet little box in the cemetery. Sometimes I want to dig you up and hold you again, however grotesque that might seem to people.
I miss you. It’s visceral. A part of my body and soul is no longer here as it should be. I keep waiting for the day I finally feel better, it finally stops hurting so badly. The lesson I am learning in this third year is that it won’t. I question why I wait for this, and I think it’s because that is what we expect of the grieving. We expect them to get over it a move on and the truth is, we don’t and there isn’t anything shameful in that. Your discomfort is not my responsibility.
My grief is my love for you, with nowhere else to go. So it manifests as words on this page, tears shed in the shower, pausing too long to stare at cardinals in the nearby trees.
Today is the day you died.