Death felt a terrible thing when it came stealthy that hot July morning. It robbed the beautiful person that was not yet grown up, but not a child either. His future was just within reach and yet, he couldn't escape his fate no matter the perceived invincibility that rules the lives of lovely boys nearly 20 years old. My own innocence had evaporated slowly over the cancer that snuffed out my brother's light over the course of that year. I was a semblance of an old soul when it came to learning life was not always fair but never had I faced the type of grief that feels like you have been pushed from a cliff and there is nothing to grab onto, just air.
The feeling of horror that morning enveloped my whole self and I ran out the door, Down the hall, a flight of steps. I just ran and ran and ran. I couldn't run away though and should have known that wouldn't save me. I had not been able to save him, despite my clenched hands. I felt I was being suffocated and there was no refuge. That is the the anniversary I recall, running away and yet, death stung me and got me good. My efforts futile. I was stranded, puzzled and arguing with my own thoughts derived from the truths that trickled through the realm of my real and derived from absolute truth.
The following days were events and activities that had been conjured up to soothe the sting and choose joy. Boats, beer, even a toga party in his honor. What else do teenagers do when one of their own crosses the great divide? One by one the hundreds of people that shed tears moved back into their own worlds and then the abyss of sadness loomed. Those who have ridden the wave of sadness know that after the crash ends, the water appears calm but really the churning of emotions of grief and sadness have just slipped beneath the surface and that is even worse.
The world continues and you feel but a spectator of the life that is no longer perfect. The reckoning plagues your mind and you wonder how and why this happened, what should you or could you have done and the circling is exhausting and you sleep. When you awake, the thick remembrance swoops in within a few seconds and you remember and the dreaded cycle begins again and again. Years of this as I hesitated to feel and exerted my energy to stifle what was beneath the surface. Anything was desirable over the palpable suffocating grief that longed to be my own. I just couldn't let it capture me though.
This anniversary date looms close and I wonder how it feels like it could have been yesterday. It has been looming on my calendar for weeks. Impending anniversaries have a way of turning the years into seconds and smiles into trembling mouths that can not be trusted to utter the simplest of thoughts or a name. Adam. Today I will think of the brother and the joy he brought to my family and I will send a prayer of thanksgiving for his life. After years of running, I have accepted that I shall never escape the loss or lose track of the date, even as the world moves on, seemingly forgetful. I will reach out for the memories that envelope for me, all that is good and kind and joyful. And I shall smile.