It’s been a year since my brother Jay died. All of the calendar’s holidays have gone by, all the birthdays have passed, the weather is now much as it was on that awful day. At each of these milestones there has been someone missing. He was usually scarce on the big days, either going to the in-laws or working, but sometimes he would show later on. This past year there was always a latent anticipation, never realized, that any moment now he would come through the door, with a “hello” too soft and too high-pitched for that enormous frame, and now the party could really start.
The unrealness of it all still shocks me. I’ll be writing something at work, or cooking or taking a shower at home; waking up, or going to bed; watching TV, or talking to someone, and it will just hit me, “Oh yea, that’s right, Jay is gone.” Memories of him are still fresh, although I can tell that time has begun its work to erode them, make them fuzzy. Each day it gets just a tiny bit harder to recall his voice, or to remember the crushing feeling as he grabbed me with his huge arm, sqeezing the breath out of me.
I walk a fine line, between talking about him too much and not talking about him enough. I could talk about him and the tragedy of his death all day, but after a short while most people in my life, outside of our immediate family, really would not be able to care. Yet I try to mention in passing the things he did and the things he said whenever I can, not because I want to pretend that he is still here, but because I need to show that although he is gone, he still was–is–a big part of my life, and the life of our family.
His name stays on my speed dial at work, the button unpressed. I hover over his name on the chat list on my computer, his face comes up, but there have been no messages. Since November 18th of last year, not a day has passed that I have not thought about him, not a day has passed where I have not missed him, and I know I am just one of many.