We all have our ways of grieving. Some people can never stop talking about someone they love who has died. Sometimes that ostracizes them from others.
There are mothers who delicately pick up every item on their late son or daughter’s dresser to dust and put it right back in place.
You never get over the death of someone close, you just get past it. Sometimes your coping skills may be an inspiration to someone else. That’s why I am glad to hear when surviving loved ones go to various grieving programs.
It was 14 years ago next week that we buried my brother. This left only me in my original family.
I miss him. I used to talk to him on Saturdays, and I miss hearing his voice.
Tucked away in the corner of my mind is a box full of memories. It contains the remnants of memories, both good and bad that we shared together.
The last couple of years of his life were tough. He had a glioblastoma brain tumor. It’s kind of like a spider or octopus with tentacles that wrap themselves around various elements of the brain. Over time, he did not recognize some family members, his home or where he was supposed to be going.
I used to go and stay with him on Tuesdays. He would wake up after I got there and wanted some eggs and bacon. After preparing that and feeding it to him, I would clean him up and shave his face. After that, he would go back to sleep for a few hours. He woke up with no idea I had been there or made eggs. Often, I would make more eggs. It made him happy.
Elsewhere in the memory box are pictures. There is one of the two of us and Santa — he is grinning like a Cheshire cat and I am bawling. My dad had someone who made professional pictures of us. There is an Easter picture with us both looking frustrated. I am dragging a cloth bunny by its ears.
There is a picture that was made before I was born. It looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. My mama was in a barber chair. The neon signs that say “barber shop” are reversed as they hang in the shop window. Dixon is crying and mama is doing every trick in the book to make him happy.
I love that picture.
Dixon showed horses for a number of years and if he won, I would attempt to get the horse to perk up his ears and look attentive. He was a good rider and I have a ton of great memories from the horse show circuit.
There are pictures of weddings and family gatherings. We were the youngest boys on either side of the family. I remember pictures of us with our cousins, who were older and I thought were quite cool.
I remember one picture I would rather forget. It was made at Christmas. A month later, he would be gone. He was a very sick man.
No one can grieve for you or tell you how it’s done, but if you dig long enough you’ll find that memory box of you and someone you love. It isn’t a cure-all, but it is a way to bring joy to what can be an awful experience.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns publish weekly.