It's been a really difficult four months.
Somehow I've maintained the appearance that I am doing really well. I've slipped back into the normal routine of life; parenting, working, and going through the motions. But inside, especially over the past month or so, I am really struggling and hurting worse than I've ever experienced.
I am familiar with pain and death and grief. I've been close to it before. I can still remember the year after my Dad took his own life-Thanksgiving, Christmas, his birthday, and Fathers Day. Those firsts were really hard and so I know that all of these feelings just come with the territory. But in a season when everything is supposed to be Merry and Bright, I just wish I could disappear for a few weeks and just be done with it all. I'm not feeling thankful. I am not feeling joyous. What I am feeling is heavy, overwhelmed, and on a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Every day on the way to work, I get in my car, take four or five sips of coffee, and then cry for twenty solid minutes or so while I listen to my "Crystal Playlist" on repeat. As soon as I pass the Panera Bread on Hawthorne, I change the radio over to Lady Gaga and start pulling myself back together so that by the time I arrive at work I am ready and no one knows. Days off are the same. Skype with Mom and Kim, breakfast and dressed for Harper, cartoons for a few hours, and then nap time. I get one good solid hour of breakdown mode before she starts to twist and turn and then its pull-yourself-back-together time for the rest of the evening. I want to sleep all of the time. When I arrive home at 7 or 8, it's already been dark for hours and I just want to grab something quick and usually very unhealthy to eat before collapsing in my bed and re-starting the whole charade the next day at 5 am. I'm overwhelmed. I'm exhausted. I miss her so badly, so very badly that I can't even type the name Crystal without crying.
I'm getting help. I was recommended an excellent therapist by a friend here and I've been going every other week for the past 10 weeks. She is really helping me. She also has been warning me that these feelings were coming and were inevitable; especially in this season and time of year. She has also taught me that it's OK to feel like this. For my entire life, I've worked hard to always have it together, do things the right way, and be responsible. For now, I just want to be AJ, a regular ass person who just lost one of the most important people in his life.
I have also had Sabin, who has become my rock. I don't think it's possible to even write how thankful I am for him and what he has done/is doing for me through this hard time. To feel like I have someone who I can come completely unglued in front of, who will sit with me and just let me cry, will encourage me to yell and scream and act like a fool if I want to, who will literally pick me up and carry me to bed so he doesn't wake me because he knows I don't have the strength to move from the sofa to our bed. That is what true love is all about. To have gone through something like this with him has bonded us together in ways I didn't know existed between two people. I love this man with every fiber of my body and I also know Crystal loved him too. I am so thankful that we had that amazing trip in February where they got to meet. I still remember being in the hospital with Crystal on our last day. She was so sick, and Sabin stepped out of the room to go get a nurse because she needed some help. We were in a deep conversation and something clicked in her mind. She looked up at me, saw that he had left the room, and goes, "he really IS one of the hottest human beings I've ever seen." We both started cracking up and then went back to being serious but just that memory alone makes me smile from ear to ear.
I got a very sweet letter from a friend I went to high school with who lost her brother awhile back. She said that she read that next to losing a child, losing your sibling is one of the hardest. It, probably for the first time in your life, makes you realize that you are not invincible. That the end is coming for all of us whether we like it or not.
Last night we celebrated Christmas with Sabin's friends who are all headed out of town this week. We received many special gifts, but perhaps this is one of the most special items I've ever received: