47 that will never be 48.
Tomorrow would have been Mike’s birthday.
I won’t be calling him, won’t be hearing his voice say “Hey, Lain!” on the other end of the line. Each time I think of it, my heart breaks. Or sinks. Or crackles and withers.
What is tomorrow going to be like for me and my family, other than hard? Birthdays and holidays are hard without loved ones. In some ways, though, it’s easier to expect this day. It’s easier than little moments. Little moments are the hardest ones. Grief is very good at hiding around doorways, crouching in corners waiting to spring me with random remembrances, painful jolts of nostalgia tinged with regret and guilt.
So tomorrow? On Mike’s birthday? I can brace myself for Grief, can steel myself, white-knuckled, square-shouldered and lock-kneed.
Problem is, I don’t know which direction it’s coming from.
Grief may hurtle at me, barrel-chested and full-force.
Or lodge in the heel of my shoe as it irritates, exacerbates, lingers.
Or Grief will bubble up around me as I stone-sink deeper, deeper, deep.
I just don’t know.
There’s so much I don’t know.
If you asked me in April what the year ahead would be like? What kind of person I would evolve to be as a result of Mike’s death? I wouldn’t have known that either.
All I know, all I continue to know, is that my life has changed without my brother. I’m still putting the pieces together to figure out what exactly that looks like.
I suppose I always will.