One year of sadness.
One year of tears.
One year of unbelievable pain, in the core of my soul.
One year of not understanding and having unanswered questions.
One year of not being able to grasp reality.
One year of shock.
One year of firsts without him.
To be honest, I don’t remember a large portion of the past year. The thoughts that do come flooding through my brain revolve around that fateful day on July 2nd, 2011, and bits and pieces scattered throughout the 12 months that followed – the memorial service, planting a tree in Kurt's name at Georgia Tech, my last day at my job, moving my life into a storage unit, my dearest friend Michelle’s wedding, saying goodbye to my parents as I left for Rwanda, meeting my Rwandan “family” for the first time ... it’s like a flip book, without a complete storyline. The grief books say that when you go through a traumatic loss, your mind shuts down and only allows you to remember snippets of life throughout the grieving process, so as to protect you from being overwhelmed all at once. Maybe someday my flip book will be complete, maybe not. Maybe my flip book of life is meant to have a few pages missing. Maybe some memories are best left forgotten.
I imagined that after one year of firsts, the pain would lessen, the days would be filled with more joy, and the heaviness would ease. I discovered this week that on day 357, 358, 359, and today on day 360 that the pain is still gut-wrenching, the weight of it all is oppressive, the emptiness in my heart still feels like a gaping hole, and that the days go on and continue to add up as days without my brother in this world. Yes, the tears that are shed are fewer and far between, but they still drip down my cheeks nearly every day. I don’t know exactly what I expected it to feel like after year one, but it still feels awful and raw.
I feel so far away at times from where my brother is - worlds apart. At night, I look at the stars above, and only hope that he is close to me - closer than I can tell, and closer than I can feel. I miss the years that were taken from us, from him, from this world in which he lived. I already miss the moments that have yet to unfold, knowing that he won’t be present – physically at my side. I miss the things that never dawned on me as mattering. I hear his voice and see him in my dreams. I imagine turning around and seeing him in life. I wish he were here. Wherever he is, I hope he knows how much he is missed.
If you think it can’t happen to you, it can. We are all just one phone call away from our knees and from realizing that a new normal has begun.
One year ago my brother was killed. One year ago my new normal began. One year ago an article was published that shed light on the dangers of distracted driving, and on the importance of paying attention both as a driver and as a rider. As my dad told me when I got my driving permit, "You have to be a defensive driver because although you know what you're doing behind the wheel, there are plenty of morons out there who don't." I still read the article every few weeks, and would like to share it with you in case you need a reminder of why you should respect the rules of the road.
LESSONS FROM THE WRECKAGE: Tragic death a potent reminder about simple rules of the road for bikers and motorists – by John Cork