They say grief changes you. We are who we are because of our losses, as well as our accomplishments. I recently watched a movie where the main character had the opportunity to remain in an alternate universe, one where her deceased mother was alive and well. Having survived one too many losses, including my own brother, I wonder what that would mean for me.
I do unfortunately have the unsettling, impractical thoughts about what I’d do if it meant having Jeffrey back. If given the opportunity to sacrifice thing A to have my brother again, would I? Of course the situation is out of my control and these thoughts bring unnecessary stress. However, these thoughts, with careful depth, have the ability to unleash new forms of self-love. To recognize who I’ve become since this unexpected tragedy. What I’ve gained alongside this tremendous loss. I want to understand and give credit for the way I’ve overcome this particular hardship. Seek out the specific growth, as well as the already present qualities that could shine a glimmer of light onto this darkness. It seems impossible to live in a pitch black world. I’m thankful I have the power to seep what light I can onto situations that could blind me.
I wonder how it would change the person I am today if I could simply erase this loss. Would I still hold the accomplishments I’ve made in the past 21 months? Would other lives be affected if I didn’t have this experience to inspire through? I was already on this path to self-discovery and healing. My blog was already up and running. What strength did I acquire from this particular grief and how have I adapted from it? Am I more realistic about things not working out the way I always hope? I don’t feel strong by “surviving.” I used to survive, now I live. I don’t feel like my life is over because Jeffrey died. Lets be honest, life is shit and living is the hardest thing any of us can do. Finding ways to continue living while I still have so much life left is way more important than merely surviving. Maybe I’m stronger knowing I can live through tragedy.
My experiences not only shape the person I am becoming, but they provide meaning to the purpose in my life. They expand my ability to reach and relate to others. My story may not be simple or enjoyable at all turns. I may leave behind nasty falls, or hard to swallow memories in the rear view. However, with eyes looking forward, I find reward through the front windshield. To live a life where my brother is still alive, is to rewrite my future based on my past. Nothing is worth losing Jeffrey but he’s gone now and I’m not going to lose myself too. No situation has the power to reset my agenda prioritizing my past over my future. It would be a disservice to all I have gone through, as well as a disservice to Jeffrey, if I let this pain take away my ability to live. I have too much life left and it’s important to me not to feel like the best is gone. I haven’t had enough experiences to feel as though it can’t get better than life when Jeffrey was here. I don’t believe that I can’t still have highs that will feel like the best day’s of my life.
I choose to find meaning from my past by understanding its effects on my character. Applying my newfound strengths to provide myself a brighter future. No matter what I go through, my life can always be brightened by discovering new potential. My brother was part of my life for 24 years. For many of us, siblings are the relationships we have for life. Navigating the world from the same upbringing. Similar traditions, relatable lessons instilled. Someone to have your back, to be by your side during the happiest of times, and the worst. I’ve done so much since we lost him. I’ve travelled, built my blog, sold my photography, got my dog. I’ve met so many new people, some I choose to see again, and others who simply taught me lessons. I’ve been busy with what on the surface felt like distraction, but I ask myself what else could be behind these steps towards my future. How am I different from before he was here?
I lost my world the day my brother died. I was forced to enter my alternate universe, with no way out. Maybe my changes have just been accelerated. I was always this person, some things just snapped into perspective earlier. Who I am today is a more empathetic, loyal daughter. A more observant human. I’m a committed, grateful dog mom. I feel obligated to make positive changes in my life as soon as they prove worthy to my well being. I go the extra mile to check on my “strong friends.” I’m more in touch with my emotions. Gentler with myself. Patient in guiding relevant sadness through it’s necessary stages and preventing misguided worry to bring me down. Loss doesn’t change me as much as it proves my abilities. I am incredibly proud of the woman I am today. Just as you don’t truly know the type of mother you’d be until you have a child or the type of wife you’d be until you find a husband, the qualities we carry may be hidden until they are directly drawn from. I feel strength believing these qualities have always been a part of me. I feel hopeful understanding there are even more prideful qualities to be discovered. We may never be fully prepared for what life brings us, but we have it in ourselves to fight, to love more, and to live fuller. I look forward to uncovering more about the person I am becoming as I experience all that’s to come.