I’m having a hard time.
I use that phrase far more than I used to, but I think it means far more than I let on.
Last year at this time, I wrote that phrase about tomorrow being Paul’s 28th birthday. Would have been. Tomorrow it would have been his 29th birthday. This year it feels even harder than last year and I can’t seem to find the words to describe that difficulty to the people around me. It’s been three years since he died. Valentine’s Day is becoming nothing more than a holiday of broken hearts and I want it to be a celebration of the day that my brother came into this world. I want to stop thinking about how he has already left it.
This year, I felt like it started to sneak upon me slowly. It was as if my body recognized it before my mind did. February brought upon changes like me leaving my job and starting to outfit a van so that I could run off to play music and promote the book I wrote explaining my journey through the grief of being left behind by Paul and Susan.
Last year at this time, Susan was still alive. She was severely injured from the car accident but she was still alive, nursing a shattered hip in the hospital. Susan had kept saying that she would never be the same again, and she wasn’t. Six months later, she was gone. I still stand in disbelief.
I continue stand here aching, thinking about the paper hearts and mylar balloons. Cupid’s arrows hit me square in the chest, leaving me gasping for breath and turning away from the light. In the dark, I am reaching; grasping for the switch to make this all better. My hand clutches for the music, the drink, the cake, the running, the yoga, the dogs, the van, the travel, the company, the solitude, and I can’t quite escape the ache.
How do I explain to someone that when I say “I’m having a hard time” it’s an admission of something more. It means that I’ve found myself laying curled up on the floor with tears that I cannot stop. That my heart feels like it’s going to explode from the cavity it has dug into my chest. That these feelings become so intense my hands shake until I become senseless and don’t even understand why I’m feeling. I’m just feeling… everything. My emotions become this quicksand of entrapment. It’s this place that feels so sticky, sickly, and comfortable that I find myself having a hard time crawling out of it. Every injustice, abuse, horrible moment, and grievance resonates in my cells to the point that I feel as if it’s shaking me apart.
I can’t stay there forever.
The tears, the ragged breaths, the panic, the uncontrollable shaking comes and goes in tides. There’s usually a moment where one of my dogs breaks in. Fischer and Slinky have both come to my rescue. The jolt of a dog concerned with your well being is a reminder of how selfish it is to stay and wallow. I snap out of it.
But that’s what I’m doing.
I keep looking for other things to do. To direct my energy elsewhere. It doesn’t change that I feel angry at the people who are single and bemoaning the fact on Valentine’s Day. Or the people that say they don’t care that it’s Valentine’s Day. Or the guys buying the enormous teddy bears for their ladies because it’s Valentine’s Day.
It doesn’t stop Paul’s car accident.
It doesn’t stop Susan’s car accident either.
I want to run as far away from the fake plastic hearts as I can.
To find a way to embrace the sunshine, dance in the ocean, and laugh far into the trees.
I’m tired of the tears.
If I’m going to vibrate apart resonating in a single feeling before I go, let it be joy.