Of the essence

Two years have gone by since my brother passed away.

Two years since I got that phone call.

Two years since I wrote his obituary.

Two years since I read his eulogy.

Two years.

I know as the years continue to pass i’ll say, “wow – I can’t believe it’s been 5 years!” and, “wow – I can’t believe it’s been 10 years!” I’ll always be in a state of disbelief.

I can say with a fair amount of certainty that we have all lost someone dear to us. And it’s tough to tell how you’ll feel when a day like this sneaks up on you. Because there was such a strong unpredictability about how today would feel for me, I decided to plan ahead and give myself one simple thing: time.

Time off of work for one day. Time to perhaps organize my apartment, go to a yoga class, spend time with one of my most uplifting girlfriends, call my twin sister, check in on my family… just a little extra time.

Because one thing I realized is that time is a luxury we rarely ever have when we want it the most.

I don’t have the luxury of time to go back to my brother and have the million conversations that I wish I could. I don’t have time to hug him once more or tell him I love him. I don’t have time to argue with him over whether or not to keep Taylor Swift on the radio, or whose team is going to win the football game.

In the relationship between my brother and myself, I am completely and utterly out of time.

That is a heartbreaking reality that two years later i’m still learning how to both manage and adapt to.

Yet on the positive flip side – because I always fight to find one – I’m now acutely aware of this luxury of time, and day by day am trying to take advantage of the brutal lessons i’ve learned through the loss of my brother.

I’m trying to make the most of the time I have with those who I still have it with.

Whether that means taking extra vacation time to see my family over the holidays, or finally – after 10 years of friendship – having the courage to commit to a relationship with the man of my dreams, I’m giving life every ounce of effort I have left in this battered yet beating heart of mine.

It’s no secret that every day comes with a struggle and a challenge- for all of us. But it also comes with the opportunity to make the most of our time and the love we have for life and those we’re fortunate enough to share it with.

Life without my brother will never get easier. But the lessons i’ve learned from his loss will help me to make this life as beautiful as humanly possible.

I promise you that time is a luxury I will never, ever take for granted. And I hope you don’t either.

So now, how will you make the most of the time you have?

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Keep going

Tomorrow, January 11, 2015, marks the one-year “anniversary” of my brother’s passing. While no time frame or date on a calendar could ever justify or help make sense of the loss my family has endured, I can’t help but to take a little more time than usual to reflect on what a whirlwind of a year it has truly been.

Surprisingly, losing Thomas made me more independent than ever before. It’s not that I don’t lean on friends and family when I need to; I’m grateful for the support and comfort that’s shown, and most days I embrace it. But death has had a way of making me not only realize, but truly believe, that I am the only one who controls my life. No one else. Not my parents, siblings, friends, coworkers, no one. Just me.

So in this past year, I stopped – to the best of my ability – over analyzing what others thought of me, my choices, my actions, all of it. I reminded myself that what others think of me is none of my business.

I invested more time into the power of my mind and all of its possibilities through the practice of yoga and also through the rapid consumption of content. Yoga helps me to focus on one thing at a time, control my anxiety, and continue to keep a positive state of mind. Additionally, I’ve stayed true to my personal goal of reading at least one book a month, and have made a more conscious effort to read publications and articles that are outside of my usual wheelhouse.

On top of that, I slowly but surely am figuring out the limits that I want to set for myself. I left a job that I didn’t enjoy (which led me to one that I love), I turn down plans that deep down I know I want no part of, and I’m more diligent about who I’m willing to share my time with. Overall, I’m smarter about when I say yes and when I say no. 

Not all of these shifts of control were a product of some magical revelation I had when Thomas passed. And it doesn’t shed light into the cracks of sadness and honest depression that inevitably come from an unforeseen loss of a loved one. I still cry, throw questions out into the universe that can’t be answered, wish people were more compassionate and just nicer to each other (because why wouldn’t you be?) and wish that I had more than memories to hold onto.

But because I know that I only have control of myself, I choose to take care of my own life to the best of my ability. And on the one-year mark of his loss, I’m going to choose to celebrate Thomas and all of the quirks he had which I love and miss so dearly. I’ll watch the Cowboys game and hope they kick Green Bay’s ass. I’ll wear his Dallas scarf and sleep with his Dallas blanket and smile at old photos that I now cherish.

But i’m also going to make sure that I take a second to give myself some credit. Because for 365 days, I chose to keep going and not let something that happened to me dictate my next steps. To continue on despite hardships, no matter the kind, is something we should all be proud of.

So here’s to you, and here’s to me, and here’s to my brother Thomas. May we all choose to keep going.

Miss you now. Miss you always.
Miss you now. Miss you always.