Always Remember you this way.

It’s been awhile since I blogged. About anything. I think my healing has mostly been behind the scenes and I’m ok with that. Inspiration comes unexpectedly and when it does, I write.

Recently we passed your birthday. Although I haven’t seen your gravestone in person yet, it made me think again about the birthdate followed by the date of your death found there, and it’s still hard to wrap my head around the fact you’re gone.

Before you died I had almost gotten to the point that I felt healed enough from our last experiences to try again on repairing our relationship. But I didn’t. It always sounded cliche, until it didn’t, when I heard the quote you hear wise people who know better say “The trouble is, you think you have time.” I sure did, but it turns out the clock ran out when you were only 47.

Now, rarely a day goes by when I forget to say something in the past tense about you, or I realize that I’m the oldest surviving sibling where I don’t think about how our expectations in life are often unrealistic or short sited.

It makes me think about things we believe will happen. Specifically, that we will get to say goodbye to the ones we love when they leave this world. A new reality has been seeping in, as I meet more and more people who didn’t get that opportunity, and the unfortunate truth bomb that there is no real way of knowing if you will or not. If you can see it coming perhaps you could call everyone you know and tell them goodbye. But that’s not the same as an apparent subconscious hope I had to be able to tell you goodbye BEFORE you took your final breathes.

No one likes to think about the fact, either, that a loved one will die alone. It seems like that is the living fear of so many people I meet as a therapist, as well. Uncertainty is anxiety producing, so isn’t it funny how we create little narratives about how the end will go, often including words like “At least they won’t have to die alone.”

But you did. Although it is the fate of many, an out of order death AND one that was tragic, where you also died alone, it still doesn’t sit well. I can’t explain it into any sort of comfortable reality. I even use the ideas I use with my clients to frame it, avoiding the “Why did this happen?” question people often get stuck on, one that will never bring the answers. Instead I focus on “How did it come to pass that you died like THIS.” And sure if I use the facts, I can logically explain it.

Unfortunately, grief doesn’t give a damn about logic. Instead, It comes in with thoughts of regret, “If he only would have….” Or “If I’d only known the last time I saw him was the last time I would see him alive…” Maybe I would’ve taken a picture of him, asked for one with him, or said something different. I didn’t want to be left with the last words I can remember you saying to me being so vague and fuzzy. I would’ve tried harder to remember them, to place a bookmark for later when I could replay them, even if they weren’t complementary to me they were authentic to who you are, and the last time I got to talk to you. Now it seems like a souvenir keychain you get that’s poorly made and doesn’t last nearly long enough to measure up to the memories it represents.

I played your video I made for you again. It’s the one where I write your name in the sand, the same sand on Assateague where we played on for countless hours as kids, then wait for a wave to wash away your name. Ironically, I timed it perfectly and only needed one take to record it. As I listened to the roar of the ocean in the background of the video it occurred to me; that’s how I said goodbye to you. It wasn’t at the viewing where you lay lifeless in the coffin, without a hint of your signature mischievous grin, and it wasn’t even at the graveside where they dug a hole large enough for your flag draped coffin that struck a chord with my broken heart. It makes sense now that part of me spoke up and needed to say goodbye to you there by the Ocean, that day.

🎶I’ll always remember us this way🎶 I can think hard enough to conjure up a memory of us as kids that was captured on film, one that involves a beach pail full of sand, a plastic shovel and a sand castle, you with that carefree smile of yours, tan with a cowlick in your blond hair laughing along with the sea gulls.

🎶Everytime we say goodbye (baby) it hurts🎶

That line from the song always gets me.

Every-time? I just wanted ONE time. Then it occurred to me, each time I visit home and go to the beach, I can write your name in the sand and say Goodbye. “Goodbye Aaron. You died too soon and I miss you!”

Inspired : by Lady Gaga Always Remember You This Way

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