During the last year I have gone through unexpected suffering. A traumatic incident ended with my youngest brother's life and a part of me will never recover. I have learnt that is okay to be sad and I have purposefully given myself time to process.
I believe I have done well so far. Pat, pat, pat.
There are days in which I feel the guilt of forgetting. There are days in denial, thinking in the back of my head that he might be somewhere, doing something. After all, every time I left none of my brothers reached out to me. We didn't have a fluid relationship. How I wish it wasn't like that.
Sometimes I flick through photos or his name pops out on social media or my phone or scribbled down in an old notepad (that might have travelled the ocean with me, because I like to carry memories with me, useless souvenirs that acquire meaning once I depart). And there's this sting. Suddenly, my heart aches; it's a twinge in my heart that runs deep, albeit brief.
And then sometimes I go back to that fateful day, his last day. I have flashes of what happened and I feelthe urge of sharing that with someone, of retelling the story and how I felt that day. I don't know if I have actually retold whatever happened that day, since I don't want to feed morbid curiosity. But I sometimes need to share.
And other times, I just need to cry. And I do, and I don't realise how much energy sadness takes away from me.
I often wondered what would happen to me when confronting trauma, death and real pain and suffering. I am here now, and what happened is that I am sustained by my Lord; my big certainties have been shattered but not completely. I clung with all my might just like Jacob and I didn't let my God go even though I wrestled with him.
I suffer in faithfulness and even so it is still difficult to express pain.
Wounds are healing according to His time and I am okay with it. I do sometimes, in my fragility, look for comfort. In my fragility I wonder if I am able to give comfort and not just to receive it. If I can dare to dream of someone beside me. If I can let myself be vulnerable and depend on people without feeling undeserving and a burden. If I can see the face of my saviour through the helping hands of my family and friends. If I should learn to distinguish real friendship from righteous compassion. And even if it's the latter be humble enough to just accept it.
A friend sent me this song a little after my brother's death. It is based on the pre-hispanic poem from the aztec author Nezahualcóyotl . It has been of great comfort throughout this year of bereavement. Here is the song, the poem and its English translation:
Percibo lo secreto, lo oculto:
¡Oh ustedes señores! Así somos, somos mortales, De cuatro en cuatro nosotros los hombres, habremos de irnos, todos tendremos que morir en la tierra Como una pintura nos iremos borrando.
Como una flor
nos iremos secando
aquí sobre la tierra. Como vestidura de plumaje de ave zacuán,
de la preciosa ave de cuello de hule,
nos iremos acabando Nos vamos a su casa.
águilas y tigres,
aunque fueran de jade,
aunque fueran de oro también allá irán, al lugar de los descarnados Tendremos que desaparecer nadie habrá de quedar. ¿A dónde iremos que la muerte no exista?
Pero, ¿por eso viviré llorando? Percibo lo secreto, lo oculto: ¡oh ustedes señores! Así somos nosotros mortales de cuatro en cuatro nosotros los hombres todos tendremos que irnos todos tendremos que morir aquí en la tierra.
—Nezahualcóyotl translated into spanish by miguel León-Portilla
I sense the secret, the dark truth:
Oh my brothers! Being mortal, being men,
four by four, all of us have to pack ourselves off, have to die on the earth. Like a painting
we will fade. Like a flower
we’ll dry up here in the dirt. Like a cape made from the feathers of a zacuan,
from that rare rubbernecked bird,
we start to come apart
the moment we leave the house. Consider this, my friends: eagles and tigers,
though made from jade, though made from gold, come to the same end, to the same rotten place. All of us must disappear,
none is given to stay.
Where can we go where there is no death?
And this is why we lug ourselves around weeping? I sense the secret, the dark truth: Oh my brothers!
Being mortal, being men,
four by four, all of us
have to pack ourselves off, have to die on the earth.
—Nezahualcóyotl, translated into English by Forrest Gander