Friday, April 13, 2007

A Big Hole

Today is my brother's yartzeit. Five years younger than me, he was a husband and a father and a well-respected police officer when, overwhelmed by circumstances, he chose to leave us.

He was quirky, for sure, but also generous, brilliant, wickedly funny and your worst nightmare as a Scrabble opponent. He loved animals, especially ugly dogs, and worked hard to create a beautiful garden. He was always such a great problem solver--nothing seemed too difficult for him. Until everything was.

I don't know what he went through in his final days, what was so awful that he saw no way out. I'll never get over feeling that maybe I could have said something, done something, reached out in some way. There's a lot of anger, too, that I've been struggling with for four years. Anger that he would choose to give up, anger that he left us all devastated. Of course it's pointless, even counter-productive to hang on to anger as I've done but it's so very hard to let it go.

I can still get panicky and short of breath when I think about hearing the news and the days that followed. It was the most awful and surreal time but I still need to keep most details tucked away for fear of bringing back all that raw emotion , the horrifying and very real sense of being trapped in a nightmare. I can't really talk about it with my family, I stay away from the memorial walks they take each year because I still just can't go there.

Today has been sad. I can't get him out of my mind. We went to shul to say kaddish tonight and it struck me that it never gets any easier, even after all this time. The Dark Lord threw a bony arm around me when he caught me crying, giving me support in his gawky teen way and that was a needed bit of sweetness. I don't know how much he and MonkeyBoy remember their uncle but he was a larger-than-life hero when they were young.

Mostly I just miss my brother like crazy. I wish he were here to see his son, and my children grow up. I long to hear one of his long, drawn-out, ridiculous stories or hear about the latest project. Our family will never be the same. He left a giant Ben-shaped hole in all our hearts which is still ragged and painful but hopefully beginning to heal ever so slightly.


beth h said...

My mother, z"l, used to say that pain doesn't leave you, it just changes shape. For years I didn't understand what she meant by that, but after she died and I was on the other side of a big gulf of mourning with all that, I finally figured it out, at least in my visual-spatial sort of way.

What she meant is that the pain (of hurt, of injustice, and especially of loss) doesn't get smaller over time. What happens is that, after you grow beyond the moment, YOU get BIGGER -- and so the pain settles down into a new place and a new way inside you. It settles, and I guess that means you learn how to live with it. It changes shape, re-settling and shifting into new places and positions as you continue to grow.

The holes don't close up. But we get bigger, so that the holes SEEM smaller, or at least a little more manageable, most days. That's why it takes TIME to deal with loss. Because it takes time to grow.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Melisa, big hugs to you. I don't know how anyone gets over that kind of loss. But Ben was a gift to you and to your family, just one that was taken back a little early.

RedMolly said...

Melisa, I have a brother named Ben too, who's spent time in the dark places it sounds like your Ben was forced to frequent as well. I am so sorry for your family's loss; you have my deepest sympathy. I'm glad you have such a meaningful ceremony of remembrance for him and good friends and family members to help see you through it.

karrie said...

I'm so sorry. :(