Learning to Carry On

Learning to Carry On

Dear Paul,

I did it. I finally wrote the book I told you I have been meaning to write since you died. I’m calling it “Breaking the Bend.” It only took Susan dying to remind me that I didn’t have all the time in the world to finish it and that some stories are ready and waiting to be told. I still have so much more of your story to write. I still have so much of mine. I’m still not sure how to carry on.

It’s been over two years since I wrote that first letter to you.

Slinky woke me last night tearing into the duvet cover and I almost found myself in tears again, wondering what he was trying to tell me. Wondering if it was you, trying to tell me something. Wondering if it was just my imagination getting the best of me, alone in my bedroom in the middle of the night.

I’m no closer to finding any answers. Looking at pictures of you still brings me to tears as I experience the shock all over again. These are the last pictures of you. There will be no more. I’m still not equipped to handle that. Even after pushing through all these years, I’m still not that strong.

I got to hold the the first proof copy of the book in my hands for the first time last week. It’s one thing to tell yourself that you’ve written a 400 page book as a memorial to your brother and your step-mother, but it’s a totally different animal to hold those 400 pages in your hands. I cried. There was no one in my house to share it with and no one around that evening to hand it over to. Just like a baby, born delicate and vulnerable to the world, I wanted someone to hold it. I wanted someone else to tell me that the experience was real. I had to remind myself that no matter who was or wasn’t there to share it with me, that moment was mine. So I walked to the store a block from my house and got a chocolate cupcake with a single IPA beer (gluten free of course) and decided that was how I was going to celebrate alone.

It’s been so much work. So many hours just working over the words, again and again. Proofing grammar mistakes, adjusting and changing formatting, and spending hours just holding the proof volume as if it might disappear from the world and take my contributions with it. I feel like I’m going crazy with it.

I didn’t realize that it would be so much work. I knew I wanted to do it on my own, but I didn’t know what I was committing to. I know I have a problem of taking the harder path, even when I don’t have to. But this – this is my sweat, blood, tears, and mistakes. The grammar that goes uncorrected is on me. The strange transitions and non-segues are on me. This book is my memorial to you and to Susan. This book is on me. This book is life. Imperfect, still incomplete –  this book is me.

I’m releasing it on my 33rd birthday: December 12, 2014. I thought about releasing it on your 29th, or on Susan’s 61st. But this is where I decided to be selfish. As much as I say I’m doing it for you, this is for me.

I still miss you. I still love you. I’m still learning how to carry on.
It’s easier said than done.


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