caught off guard

grief is a strange thing. it catches me by surprise at the strangest moments... and the raw pain of it shocks me every time.

i was driving home from work a few weeks ago - after a really pleasant day, actually - and i stopped by to pick up the mail before driving up to the house. there, nestled among the bills and the advertisements, the letters, and the abundance of birthday cards (my younger brother, my father, and i all have birthdays in july), was a catalog of medical and anatomical charts addressed to my older brother, todd. all i could think of, as i held that glossy magazine in my shaking hands, was that i had no idea that todd even had any interest in anatomy. i missed him so acutely in those few minutes, was so totally overwhelmed by the reality of his utter absence, that i had to simply stop and let myself cry in my car (todd's old pickup truck) until i could, after a surprisingly long time, finally compose myself.

the other day, i was standing out on my balcony, soaking up a little bit of sun and listening to music. i found myself captivated by a little spider spinning its web and was reminded that todd had a collection of photographs of spiders and their webs, when a small cloud passed over the sun and the song i had chosen for todd's memorial came on over my headphones (to build a home by the cinematic orchestra). at that moment, it felt like he was truly standing there with me... maybe for just a heartbeat... but it hit me so hard, i thought my legs wouldn't support me anymore.

i think about todd a little every day... how i wish that i had known him better... how much i idolized him and his very calm, collected, and yet rebel-like demeanor when i was a kid... how i used to stand outside his door when i was younger just to listen to how brilliantly he could play the guitar... how inspiring his love and shear compassion for every living creature on this earth was and still is. i remain focused on the positives of his life almost all the time. every once in a while, though, i am reminded of the fact that he just isn't anymore and it grips my heart so hard, it steals the breath right out of me.