The unexpected bereavement of a sibling is quite honestly the toughest trial I have ever been through.
How can I equate his incredible vibrancy with the gently quiet procession from his beautiful funeral ceremony, through the woods and down to his final resting place amongst the trees?
His final journey took fifteen minutes, his coffin carried in front of us. My son held fast to my arm as I stumbled and slipped. Not once did he let me fall. I was near the front, inhaling the scent of sage and comforted by the gentle chanting, leading us down and down, deeper into the wood.
And then. A final goodbye. How to describe the lowering of a coffin containing someone who had so, so much more to give the world? I can’t.
And now we are back in real life, real pressures and deadlines. Moving on with life feels like an utter betrayal. Each day that passes is one more day he did not live. We move further and further away from the day we were all alive, together.
Cleaning the house seems trivial, yet I wander around with a duster. I rearrange ornaments. I light candles.
I’m back in work and the simplicity of it soothes me. Yes, I can do this and yes, I can do that. I can begin a task and end it, tying it up neatly. I can reply to emails. I can print off important information. Food is bought, consumed and reordered. I meet with friends and worry that my eyes frighten them, as they are full of pain and incomprehension.
I look at the chair he sat on in my kitchen. The path he walked up. The place I had my last hug with him, if only I had known.
I look at the plants on my kitchen windowsill and know that he saw them too. I turn the candle he gave me for my birthday, two weeks before his death, in my hands and cannot, just cannot believe this was the last gift he ever gave me. It’s so … solid … and he is not. It’s so real, earthly.
Grief is a curious creature and we all approach it differently. Part of me is energised, wanting to make the most of life, to do what he now cannot. The other part of me wants to curl up and cry. I’m caught between these two forces.
Right now, as long as I can keep running my house, keep on working and keep on studying, I will be ok. He would not expect anything less from me. But the underlying sadness bubbles away, boiling up and spilling over.
At the moment, it is quite literally one foot in front of the other.