I took this picture almost one year before my brother died. We took the kids to Lake Koocanusa in Montana. I remember looking out and seeing how stunning the sky was with the sun beaming down through the clouds. Despite the cold and windy day, the beauty of it was warm and calming. I remember thinking how important it is to fix our eyes on the good in our lives, rather than the bad.
After my husband died in 2011, I wrote about feeling the loss of something so great in this world. I also remember thinking how painful it was to see life go on without him. How my kids had to face life without a father. I didn’t want it to go on without him in their lives. I would see (and still do) other people enjoying their children, their parents, their vacations and even their ups and downs. It didn’t matter because they still were all together. I would watch through pain-stained eyes and try to not think about my pain. I would watch, knowing I won’t ever have more memories to make.
I lived life continually punishing myself for the loss. I withdrew from life. I didn’t know how to live life with this great loss. Granted, we were separated, it holds no gratifying value when I had spent half my life with him and created two of the best children together. I still felt one with him. In fact, I felt more one with him after he died. It was as if the other half of my soul had resurrected. Losing someone doesn’t just hurt for the things you don’t have, it hurts for the things you know you’ll never be able to have. It’s a pain beyond the possibility of expression.
Losing a brother has brought me more expressions of pain I could ever have imagined. Not only do you feel a loss of a soul connection, it’s a loss of a blood connection. I imagine his marine brothers experience the same deep loss from bonds only created in war. They may not have shared the same blood but it’s each other’s blood they were living and dying for. I also feel the pain of this loss for my kids and my brother’s kids. Four amazing children without fathers. I carry all their hearts.
I realize, however, through all the pain, life still goes on. Life went on without me really truly present after my husband died, because I allowed it. Life went on and then another significant person in my life was taken. I have also had new lives brought into my world. Life will continue to give and take from us. Life isn’t going to stop, feel sorry for you, rewind or change just because you decide to give up! You have the choice to jump back in the game or to watch it from the sidelines. You have to choose how great you will become because of it. You have to decide to create something beautiful from your sorrows.
When I start to feel down or overwhelmed, I will think of this day on Lake Koocanusa. I will think of that cold, windy day and how the sun gave us peace for a brief moment to reflect on life. I will think of that beautiful moment I had just talking about it with my brother. I will think about making sure I’m present with those around me. I want to be living in the moment - because these moments are all we got! I will think of life, and how it goes on whether we choose to join in with it or not.
Make sure you join in!