Cleaning my brother's watch tonight. It's taken a third of a bottle of rubbing alcohol and scores of q-tips and cotton balls to clean away the grime of working with his hands. Now it gleams, cleaner than it's been since it was new-- though etched and pitted and scratched and dinged.
I looked on my brother's face for the last time on Saturday. I never knew the last time I'd see him alive would be when he left my apartment a few weeks ago, or the last I'd hear his voice would be when we spoke for just a few minutes the night before he died, him so tired and feeling so out of it when normally the guy'd talk the hind leg off a donkey about utter minutia. And I say that meaning that it was comforting. Either he or I could be bored or just killing time and call and bullshit about nothing. Or if the sketchy people downstairs had "guests," I could call and talk to him until I was safely locked in my place. Sure, it was probably nothing more than a placebo. But it made me feel that much safer knowing that my not-so-little little brother had my back as much as one can from a few hundred miles away.
I returned to work today for the first time in a week, feeling like both no time and an eternity have passed. And really, both have. From when I left work last Wednesday, less than a full week of days had passed, only four work days. And in that same scant time the landscape of my life has been forever altered, my family irreparably damaged. The world carries on, of course. The sun rises, and I hate it for that. It means another day without my brother is dawning. People go about their business, and I hate them for it. The rock tossed into the streams of their lives caused a few eddies that are now fading away. The process of trying to discern who really meant it when they said to call "anytime" has begun. I know that the patience and understanding on the part of others will not last forever, but I don't know what I need or want aside from my brother back. I'm learning all kinds of lessons I never really wanted to, like how losing a sibling is an afterthought in the grief and loss counseling biz, far behind the loss of a child or parent or pet or spouse or grandparent or friend. The crying has lessened somewhat, but is more prone to explode at inopportune moments (like when putting next month's blood drive on my work calendar-- it's the day after what should have been my brother's 29th birthday). I'm impatient to figure out what is going to pass for normal now, but I don't want this whole situation to ever become normal. I feel guilty for laughing, for eating, for driving, for living, but I can't stop living. Can I? Should I? I don't know anything anymore, except this fantastic, exquisite sense of loss. And I do know that I've been cruising, drifting for the past few days and getting by because the sense of shock has dulled things enough for me to be able to function. And I know that I fear reality setting in and my protective bubble of shock is dispersing. What then?