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Sneaky Grief

Sunday felt like it would never end this week. I often get that antsy - get ready for the week- Sunday feeling. Especially now that I’m back at work and doing the Monday to Friday thing again. I want to make lists, clean the house, get ready for the week - everything in my brain is in ‘go’ mode. Another part of me wants to go hiking in the forest, biking, skiing or visit friends - make the most out of the weekend sunshine. But my body feels heavy, my back has been bugging me all week and I didn’t make any plans. My deep spinal muscles are nagging at me to sit down, to slow down and listen. To lie on the ground. But I resist the ground. I know what that stillness can bring.

The kids are out of the house and instead of slowing down, I keep cleaning. Picking up shoes, running the vacuum, picking up clothes, folding towels, organizing, sorting, wiping, pushing chairs in, straightening the couch, finding order in the chaos. A sense of control. The list never ends. The laundry never slows down. The dirty hockey towels, the toilet bowl - the tasks that call my body to keep moving. Don’t feel it. Don’t stop. But I’m home alone and my back keeps calling me to lie down on the bed. Put down the phone. Let the muscles relax. Feel the tickle in your throat. The let down. The stream of tears that won’t stop. It's here again and I forgot what day it was. I can’t believe it doesn’t change. This many years later. The day he left etched in our hearts forever. Valentines day 2009.

My brother Jeff was born on January 2, 1965 - my mom went into labor at a New Years Eve party. He was born with a love for celebration. He made a point of celebrating life probably because life was so damn hard on him. He didn’t just host people for dinner parties, he had events with themes, costumes, name cards, decorations and perfect food. Matching wines. White tablecloths. It didn’t matter what holiday it was, he made it all happen for the folks that showed up to play. He probably lived that way when he could because a lot of times he was sick or struggling to get out of bed or just struggling to find his way in the world. It is amazing how easy it can be to not think about the hard stuff, the struggle, the pain and suffering he went through. Like the guy who called him a fag and broke his nose when he was 18 and going to school in Kingston. Just walking home from the pub. That kind of trauma changes a person forever. A kid on my son’s hockey team got suspended this week for calling a kid by the same homophobic slur. 40 years later.

He would love to be here today to celebrate Valentine's Day with flair. We’ll make sure to have our annual valentine’s breakfast with strawberries, whip cream, hand made crepes, fancy plates and flowers. We’ll do it the way he would have wanted. We’ll find time to slow down and celebrate his beautiful love of life, art, beauty and design. We’ll slow down to feel the depth of grief that comes when you love someone so fully and completely. We can let the tears flow.

Grief is sneaky that way. The body holds tight to these memories of loss, reminding me that the only thing that matters some days is feeling the depth of your soul and lying flat on the ground. The lists can wait, the work will get done, the body knows.

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