It’s days like this I miss him the most. Days when I feel so alive and full of energy that I could scream, or dance or run until my legs collapse. Days when the sun is bright, the air is pure and signs of life evident in the blooms of spring. Days that feel perfect, not because anything particularly special is happening, but because all of my senses feel completely alive and the light is blinding and beautiful. And I miss him because I know he loved these days too.
In less than one week my brother will have been gone from this earth for 6 years. 6 years! I have missed him everyday for 6 years, but there are certain days I just miss him more. Today is one of those days. In fact, it was a day, just like today that he physically left this earth. It was one of those perfect days outside. The sun shone brightly all day with a warmth finally replacing the bulky winter coats we had been wearing for months. The sky was a beautiful clear blue, not a cloud in the sky. The delicate white blooms of cherry blossom trees lined the streets and the yellow daffodils were arriving just in time for easter. Smells of fresh cut grass and the perfume of flowers filled the air as the birds celebrated over head with songs of spring. The sidewalks were filled with walkers and bikers, the patios filled with gossip and laughter, it was one of those perfectly beautiful days.
And as the sun set that day I had no idea that I would experience the darkest night of my life. After hours of searching, praying, pleading, I would learn that my brother was dead. I remember hearing the words. I think my heart stopped and when it beat again it ached in a way I had never felt before. I sobbed and screamed. Memories filled my head, a rolling slide show of our life together played nonstop. I wanted to remember him. When did I talk to him last? What did I say? I searched my phone for texts and voicemails and pictures. I wanted to see him and hear him. I wanted the perfect day back and I wanted him in it.
Today I can’t stop thinking about my brother. My brother loved days like this. He would sit out by the pool and jump in and swim with his kids, and mine. He would throw them in the air and they would giggle as their little bodies splashed into the water, and they would beg for him to do it once more. He would sit in his chair on the deck, with his smelly cigar and cold beer, and watch movies on his computer and I would hear deep belly laughs. Boy he had a great laugh. Erik lived for these days. Days when he could relax and take a break from the pressures of the world. Days when he could soak in the sun and feel the perfect breeze on his face. Days he could sit outside and hear sounds of laughter and joy from those he loved.
I recently went to a support group for those who have lost loved ones to suicide and the facilitator said something so profound and so true. She said that we shouldn’t remember our loved ones for their final act, but rather we should remember them for all the days that they truly lived. Oh, such beautiful truth. As much as I relish in the illusion of a perfect day, I know that darkness can come at anytime. And perfection is just that, an illusion. And my brothers life wasn’t perfect. It was wonderful and difficult and full of laughter and tears. Full of hope and pain. It was at times life affirming and at times broken. It was hard. It was good. And I choose to remember him in his fullness. I choose to remember his laughter. I choose to remember him for the way he loved me so fiercely. I choose to remember him for all the days he lived well, and all the days he fought to live. I choose to remember him, swim shorts soaked in chlorine water, sunglasses on, skin slightly shiny and red from a few too many rays, smile on his face, basking in the sun on a perfect day.
I miss him today and I’ll miss him tomorrow. I wish he was here with me now. I wish we could take a walk in the sunshine and catch up. I wish I could feel his arms around me. I wish I could hear his laugh. I’m thankful that the days I feel most alive make me think of my brother. I’m thankful for memories of good that overshadow the hard. I’m thankful that the light truly has overcome the darkness. I’m thankful I remember him most when the sun is shining. And I rest in the assurance and peace that my brother is up in heaven, sun glasses and sun kissed skin, enjoying a truly perfect day.