It has almost been a year.

This picture was taken the last time that I saw my brother. I am so grateful that he came down for our wedding. He cut our cake and I did not get to see him for that long, but it meant the world to me that he came.So, as I wrote before, I lost my brother on July 24th, 2011. It has almost been a year since he has been gone. I am not going to write this post to bring anyone down and please do not feel obligated to respond. I am writing it, because it is true. I wish that I could say that everything is back to normal, now that it has almost been a year, but that would be a lie. For months after his death, I woke up with him on my mind. Have you ever woke up with the same thought on your mind morning after morning? Well, that is what it was like. Every morning, I would wake up and ask myself, “Is he really gone?” Of course, I had to respond with, “Yes, he is.” I did that morning after morning and somewhere within the past year, that has pretty much stopped. I think it has sunk in for the most part, that he is gone. He lived in Chicago, so it wasn’t like I saw him and then, he was gone. It was different. I had to keep telling myself that it really happened even though I knew that I was at his very funeral and I have some remains. I think that it was so hard for the reality to sink in, because I just feel like he should still be alive.

For the first time in a while, I went to pick up my phone and text Mark. It hit me again. It was a “Oh yeah, I can’t really text him anymore.” moment. I would send him pictures of my son, Carson from time to time and never really got a response. The one thing that made me finally cry in front of anyone at the funeral was when his previous girlfriend, Christin gave me back a picture that I had mailed to my brother on his birthday (June 2nd, 2011). He framed it and she told me, “He always had this sitting next to his bed by his candle that he would light.” That broke my heart. Even though my brother did not really show love in a usual way, he did love his little nephew. She also brought me something that he planned to give to Carson one day. You might wonder why I waited for that moment to actually cry in front of anyone at the viewing. It is very hard for me to cry in front of anyone, even my husband! I think that is because I don’t like people to see me crying and feel bad for me. Crying is a private thing for me. I very, very rarely cry. In fact, I do not remember the last time that I cried. I am sure it was about Mark, though. When I am alone, driving in the car and I hear a song that he would like, I usually cry. I could just hear him from years ago telling me, “Crystal, in order to really appreciate music, you have to appreciate all different types of music.” Of course, he told me this while we were listening to some old rock. He loved music, so that reminds me of him every time. I also remember the time when he told me that some old rock songs are so repetitive and that was a little annoying. Hahaa That is so true, though. Think about the song Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. “And this bird you can not change…” I am sure that was not the song he was talking about at the moment, but it is just funny, the memories that you have years and years later.

In fact, that is how I get through many days. When I just want to talk to him so bad and make the reality of him being gone go away, I just try and think of him as I thought of him when he was still living. I try not to have a changed perspective of him and know he is gone, but still enjoy the memories that we shared. There was another memory that I have of him and we were riding around in the car that he had. It was a maroon chevy malibu and it is mine now. He was singing Kelly Clarkson in a high-pitched girl voice in a way that only he could and cracking me up. I am pretty sure that it was her song, Because Of You. It still makes me laugh. I have not always been able to laugh about these memories, so I am getting better. Of course, I want to keep that car forever now since it is something for me to remember him by.

I was told by a friend recently, “I don’t know how you did it.” She was referring to the fact that I am managing to get by, even after losing him. I responded, “Honestly, I don’t know how either. It is so hard.” I don’t like to butter things up for people. If you ask me a question, expect a real, honest response. I like to have it the same way, I might say. I really do look back sometimes at myself when I was screaming on the phone, “No God, no!!!!!!!!! Oh my…..” when I heard the news. I was so confused, shocked and just so…LOST! Am I still lost at times? Yes. It hits me hard some days harder than others and I just wish I could pause life for a while to cry all day. It has gotten better, though. Now that the anniversary is approaching, the feelings are coming back and it is like someone slapped me in the face every time I hear the date mentioned. I will make it, though, with God’s help. Some might think, “Well, that is the cliche thing to say.” Right. I would think the same if I did not know the truth of it, but I do. I pray often for God to help me get through the misery of losing him and He does. He uplifts me with a verse, or just finds a way to cheer me up. I still hold onto hope of seeing Mark again. I will always hold onto that hope. I know a lot of things about God’s attributes just from studying the Bible and one thing that I do not know for sure is if we will see every single one of our loved ones again. Hope is all that we have sometimes, though. I will hold onto that hope and make it through each day, month and year while re-living each memory in my mind. He was such a lively, different, real person. I saw many parts of him. I saw his crazy, entertaining personality and I also saw his sincere personality trait when we were alone and he wanted to have a heart to heart conversation. Oh, I miss those.

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