The first year after a loss is filled with so many firsts. The dread of celebrating anything without them is daunting. The weeks leading up to those days are agonizing and seem to go by so slowly yet speed by without you realizing. You feel a new and perplexing grief that fills your world in a way that’s indescribable.
The grief you carry changes and morphs many times over. Some days it’s bearable and you remember to laugh and feel alive. Other days you feel as if you’re stuck in quicksand, the harder you fight, the more suffocating it feels. Each day is unpredictable and that’s what makes grief unmanageable at times. All you want to do is scream and fight, run and hide, just not be you.
The worst part of it all is that life goes on without them. YOUR life goes on without them and that seems impossible. How can you keep living when they aren’t? You start reaching these milestones in life. You start new careers, get promotions, start new relationships with people they will never get to know, and you think about marriage and babies. These are all milestones that are expected but still so hard to accept. Life keeps on as if nothing has changed even when you’ve changed into a new person, again and again.
Then you have unexpected milestones. I’m a baby sister. That’s one of my identifying factors and something I’ve always been very proud of. Today is the last day that I will be younger than my big brother Adam. I don’t want to close my eyes to sleep because this is a terrifying moment in my life. How can this be possible? How can tomorrow come and expect my world to not crumble all around me? How can my lungs be expected to accept the task of breathing without hyperventilating? It’s times like these when I can’t recognize if this is my reality.
So tomorrow will come either way. If I lay awake until my alarm goes off or I fall into a stupor, half-dreaming, half-awake. And my heart will be broken once again, in a new, unknown way. I will cry until my face hurts and my eyes swell. Hopefully, I will also laugh and remember I’m alive. But I don’t know how grief will show up on this unexpected milestone, my birthday.