June 9th is one of my younger brother's birthday. It also unfortunately is the day our grandfather passed away. Yesterday was the 4th year since he passed and my brother's 29th birthday.
The last several years of my brother's life, I've always felt a little guilty because I want my brother to have an amazing day on his birthday, as people should. But I also still get so sad on that day because I miss my grandfather a lot. And I know it's something that weighs on him as well and that sucks. I also understand how much it sucks to lose someone you care for on a day that's supposed to be a damn good one to celebrate life and love and the people in your life. I digress.
I was lucky to have someone so great that's worth missing so much be such a big part of my life because not everyone's fortunate to have a pair of kick ass grandparents. At the same time, it makes it hurt that much more because losing someone you have a close relationship with sucks. Even if you're a little happy to see them go because you know their pain and suffering is now over and who doesn't want that for a person they love?
Last year on June 13th, my friend Amanda committed suicide. June 15th is my birthday and that also happens to be the day we found out that she had committed suicide. I've been thinking about her a lot lately. In part, because it's hard not to think about it considering my birthday celebration last year ended with me laying in bed only to find she'd been found dead in her ex's kitchen shortly after I'd laid down. Also because it's coming up on that one year and people have been posting things to her Facebook wall. Poems, art, random thoughts, prayers and various other things. All things she'll never see or read but things that make the person posting them feel connected still, in some way. Or maybe it just makes them feel better in another way. I don't judge because I can't bring myself to delete messages from her and can't remove her from my Facebook feed even though I'll never be able to talk to her again.
Her death was, in several ways, harder to deal with. My grandfather had Alzheimer's (which is what got me into doing the Alzheimer's Walks and fundraising for the Alz Association) and he was sick for quite a while before he finally couldn't fight anymore. Amanda, I didn't see that coming because you rarely ever see suicide coming. I had plans to see her and hang out the following weekend. I went to her funeral that day instead, which wasn't the way I wanted to spend time with her.
It wasn't the first friend I'd lost like this but it's not something that gets easier. It's hard and you go through so many emotions. I still occasionally get so goddamn mad at her for being gone and then a few minutes later I'm crying because I just miss her and wish I could split fajitas and some margaritas. I know it won't be as bad this year as it was last year, though. I won't be shocked and devastated because she's already gone. And as hard as it is to cope with death, it does get easier the more time passes by.
My grandfather's death was the first death I'd gone through that was someone I was truly close to. I feel guilty saying that because I'd lost other friends and relatives that I honestly didn't know that well before him. Those deaths sucked in different ways but his was the first one that was heartbreaking and devastating for me. I kept having people telling me it would get easier the more time that went by and after that first year, I really understood that nothing would be as awful as the first year of adjusting to the fact that he was gone. There were so many things that I didn't realize would hurt that did. Not needing birthday cards or father's day cards for him anymore. Not needing to buy a present for him at the holidays. Addressing Christmas cards solely to my grandmother and not to both of them. Changing the name in my cell phone from "Grandpa & Grandma" to just "Grandma." Watching a basketball game and remembering the reason I even like watching basketball is because I used to watch it with him and got into it because of him. Tons of little things that never even crossed my mind but felt like punches right to the gut. Now, after several years, moments like that happen few and very far in between.
With both of them, I think I thought it would stop hurting much more immediately than it did despite really knowing better. Maybe I naively hoped I could get passed it and be okay faster than I really did. Like it couldn't possibly keep being painful year after X amount of time because at some point, you're obviously going to realize you've cried all your tears and had all of your sad moments. Then you could just think fondly of them and remember happy times and feel gratitude at the time you had with them and nothing will hurt anymore because it's been long enough. That's a really nice thought but it's not realistic and that realization sucks. There isn't a "long enough" and another realization that this one brought on is that that's okay, too. It's okay to cry and miss them and hurt. As long as you're not dwelling there and do remember all the good, it's okay to not be okay after you lose someone you love. It's okay to not be okay sometimes even after it's been a while. There's no time limit and no reason to feel guilty or ashamed over how you feel.