Well it’s May 4th and you all probably know that date holds a lot of meaning to me and my family. It’s been 13 years (!) since my brother died on this date and it just seems incredibly that so much time has passed. When I think about what has happened in my life and in the world since, it seems like he existed in another life, another world. Like it was all just some movie I watched as a kid.
I’m usually really sad on May 4th and the days leading up to it. I go over and over that final week with Steve in my head and listen to my comforting Michael music and just generally detach from everything for a little bit until it all culminates in a big, full-out crying session on May 3rd while listening to the last song he and I ever got to listen to together (“Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera in case you’re wondering). And then it passes by about the first week into May and I’m back to normal composure. I think about Stephen every single day, and have done for 13 years, but the pain isn’t as sharp as it normally is on this one day and I go about living my life with him always watching out over me.
So I have to ask myself why this year is different and it is different. Sure, I had my crying session last night and it felt really good. But for the first time, this date has not been figuratively circled on the calendar. For the first time, I haven’t been waiting for this date to come and anticipating the well-worn emotions that go with it. It’s not that I don’t still miss Steve, far from it. And it’s not that the loss hurts any less because it doesn’t. But I feel like I’m in control of it this year. Maybe it’s the pills I’m taking, maybe it’s my impending move to NYC, maybe it’s just growing up, I don’t know.
I’m finding it easier this year to be, I don’t want to say at peace, but not overly sad by today. Does that make sense. It’s on mind, has been all day, surely but when I think of Stephen today or when I look at his picture or listen to a certain song like “The Dance” (that was Stephen’s song with his first girlfriend) or “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” (he used to sing this at the top of his lungs in the shower. I love him dearly but he was no Michael) or “Memory” which Steve would belt at the top of his lungs every time in an hysterically exaggerated manner, I find myself remembering a lot more of the good times than the not so great final days leading up to whatever happened that morning of the 4th of May, 1997. It aches but it doesn’t overwhelm like it used to. Not all the time anyway.
Grief is a weird thing. My “friends” in high school used to tell me to “just get over it already” because I would become very mopey and depressed on occasion about Stephen. But they were wrong. You don’t get over loss. You might come to terms with it, you might be able to handle it in different, more mature ways as you get older, but you never “get over it.”
For as long as I live, I’ll never forget what this day is, what it means, how it changed my life and my family, how much it hurt when it was fresh and how much it aches as the years go by. I guess I may have to the conclusion, at least this year, that just because I don’t act depressed and sullen for a day doesn’t mean I love him any less or am grieving any less than I always have. And to be honest, being in a good and rather silly mood today makes me feel closer to him than ever because that’s what he was like…
…except when he was annoying the hell out of me, as brothers tend to do. 🙂
Please don’t be saddened or down by this post, it was not meant to be that. That’s not how I feel right now and I hope that you don’t either. To cheer you up (if needed): when Stephen was about 4 years old, around the time I was born, my father got a call at work from our neighbor. She informed him that Stephen was being “neighborly” and filling up her swimming pool. My dad replied that it was very kind of him to do so but he’s so young he shouldn’t be using a hose. The neighbor answered back that he wasn’t. He was filling it up by peeing in it. 🙂 You’re welcome, Steve.