I’m remembering writing my letter to you when only six days had passed. It had seemed like a lifetime at that point since you had died. But it had only been six days. Today marks six months. It would have been about an hour ago, at my best guess. It’s impossible to wrap my mind around. Six months ago today, Clay and I were cooking dinner, watching Shameless and nothing was out of the ordinary. I didn’t know it yet, but my entire life, and our family’s entire life, had changed. I was about to change.
I miss that carefree me.
If you had asked me six months ago if I thought I’d still be here come October, I would have said, “I don’t know how.” How could someone survive something so fucking tragic? The fact that we are all still here, still breathing, still growing, is a testament to human strength. We are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. And I don’t just mean our family. I’m talking about the entire human race. How many hundreds of people had the worst night of their lives last weekend, when all those people were killed in Vegas? How many brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, grandparents, friends received the worst news of their lives that night? But they will survive. Because sometimes we don’t have a choice. We mourn, we feel like we are going to die, sometimes we want to die, too, and then we pick up the pieces as much as we can and keep walking forward. Because it’s all we CAN do.
I was debating whether to write tonight. I’ve been doing so well. It was ROUGH after the AFSP walk. I regressed back to where I had been emotionally in April. The night I wrote my last letter to you, I couldn’t stop crying for what seemed like hours. I cried and cried until I literally just couldn’t anymore. I texted Clay finally to beg him to come home. I just couldn’t be alone anymore. So I was afraid of going back to that spot tonight. I’m writing in silence. It helps. Listening to the playlist I created of songs that remind me of you is what really breaks me down. So instead I’m listening to the hum of our fridge, to the occasional car passing by outside. And I should mention Scotch is lying in my lap. I think he knows.
Speaking of Scotch…
It had to have been you in my room the other night. Clay was gone, but Scotch was seeing SOMETHING. He had never acted like that before. He was terrified, and literally laid on my chest, following something around my room with his eyes. Something was walking back and forth between both sides of the bed, and he could see it. Anytime I would barely move, he would jump a mile high. Unlike so many times, I couldn’t feel you. Sometimes your presence is so strong I know where you’re standing. But it had to be you. In the past, something like that would have terrified me. I would have slept with the lights on. But it was like, “Oh, it must be Chris.” And it was beyond comforting. Yet I needed a sign it was really you. So I asked for one. And today you delivered.
I was having tea with Kaylene. She’s been such a rock the last half year, and I don’t know where I’d be without her. So meeting her today was perfect timing. I told her about that experience, how Scotch saw something walking around my room. Without skipping a beat, she asked:
“Was Chris a pacer?”
And it CLICKED. Just like that. Yes. You were. In fact, Mom said when you came to visit and she knew SOMEONE was in her room, she didn’t recognize you. Her exact words were, “I’m used to Chris’ anxious, pacing presence.” It is moments like that, where it is so undeniable that it was you, that get me through the next few weeks. Moments like you showing me a song that’s too perfect to be coincidence, where I smell your old shampoo in my room that I never knew you used until Katrina confirmed it, where I wake up to something hitting my face and then Mom reporting the same thing happening to her, where I know without a doubt that six months later my baby brother is still around. I begged you to never leave. I know you ever will. I will keep having bad days. But I will keep having good days. There are hours that go by now where I’m distracted and thinking about other things. You’re always there, in the back of my mind even in those times. But it doesn’t always take over every time I have a moment to think. The other night I realized I had forgotten to grab your shirt to sleep with. All of your things are still right by my bed, and I’m not ready to move them yet. But for the first time, I didn’t sleep with your t-shirt and sweatshirt. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it. I’ve said it before, but you deserve to be cried over every day. But I know this is what you want. You don’t want us to cry. The anger is still there. While I will never view what you did as selfish, I think I’m going to be upset with you for quite a while. You changed our worlds. You broke our hearts. You changed who we are down to our very core. I mean, I’m having an identity crisis right now. I have no idea who I am without you. Who am I? I don’t know anymore. Perhaps this is normal. But still. I blame you.
But I obviously love you more now than ever. I miss you more now than ever. My anger will change. It will subside over time. But loving you and missing you…that will never change. You are such a huge part of me. You always will be.
I love you, Buddy. So much it breaks my heart.