TW: This entry is less at peace than most have been since the eulogy and contains more graphic discussion of depression and suicide as well as less use of sound logic than "usual". Sorry. Not sorry. Feels is feels.
In the warm light of day, it's easy to make peace with my brother's death. I have the logic of psychology behind me, the philosophy of Zen Buddhism, people to take part in acts of ritual grieving with me. The day is when I try and do things, when I make the phone calls, spreadsheets, and lists that inform my path through these fuzzy days.
I've lost my ability to do that at night, which is causing me real anguish. I usually make my to-do list for the morning and go to bed. But now, the mind won't sit still. So, all I try to do these days, or I should say, these evenings is unwind and calm myself. I use all of my tricks: melatonin, warm milk, reading, not reading, the list of sleep advice I've tried goes on forever.
My sister's grief is so great that it's manifested itself as a physical sickness. Every night at around 8 she gets chills and a vague fever. I put her to bed with tea and extra blankets and she sleeps uneasily. So here I am, the last one awake, sitting here alone, with my sadness and a nagging worry that my brother's spirit will find no more rest than we do.
I've read and re-read the same passage in Reb Anderson's book a few times now without finding any meaning in the words. So, I know I'm done there for the night. Nothing more will be gleaned for now. I put the book away and try to lay down, but only succeed in tossing and turning. Sleep is no good.
I pick up my deck of tarot cards, knowing full well that the cards can only tell you what you already know, and only what you are willing to read into them. This is a new deck, a gift for my birthday, but also a repurchase of my very first deck. It feels like the same deck I had when I was sixteen.
For those of you that also find tarot decks have personality, mine is a cheeky and cheerful deck with beautiful art. It is sometimes blunt, but this is what must be expected from a deck that paints its meanings clearly, often literally, on each card. It is a comforting deck, though, one that guided me through a lot of teenage angst. For those of you wondering what the fuck I'm talking about, chalk it up to nostalgia.
I draw the same three cards repeatedly over several nine card spreads— the Queen of Swords - this card is myself, a pragmatic woman who dislikes bullshit and will call others out on it. This card has always been myself, flaws and all, from disliking trusting others with my true self to the striving for efficient professionalism. Here I am about to gain more knowledge through great sorrow. I once again regret my childhood wish to gain the superpower of infinite understanding.
The Five of Cups holds cruel imagery for me. Three cups spilled upon the sea of emotion while two stand golden beneath the Tree of Life. A woman turns away from the darkness, and the three spilled cups, in sorrow. What was three becomes two and they are better for having lost what you had.
And Judgement, inverted. Always inverted. I hate inverted cards. I almost never read cards as inverted. I always try to find an excuse not to. But with all that cannot be said in the wake of my brother's suicide, this is not an inversion that will be ignored. This is final. A thing that cannot be taken back. Forgiveness is needed, but there will be a struggle for it.
The Hanged Man appears often as well, because my deck is literal and an asshole like that. I put the cards away the fourth time I draw it, because enough is enough after all. I lean back in my chair, close my eyes, and try to find a moment of peace or at least a feeling of fatigue that will inspire me to attempt to sleep again.
This is what I want to hear. This is also what I want to say. So surely this is a hallucination from the boarder of wake and sleep, a manifestation of my grief so great it seems physical and actual, and not my brother's ghost. Because that defies the logic that presently keeps my daytime life in order— Buddhist with solitary pagan tendencies or not.
My mother also used to say that talking to yourself helped her figure things out. It was only bad if what you heard surprised you. So, seeing as I've nothing to worry about as yet on that front, I say aloud softly, "Yup, we're all sorry. But this is a thing you can't take back."
I would if I could.
That is simply what I read into the bruise on his hand that no amount of make-up could cover, that he had tried to take it back and could not. An unsettling thought that his final moments were filled with panic and regret. An image created by a far-too-powerful imagination of a terrible struggle. But it is also, what I am sure he would feel if he could see the vast grief his abrupt and violent passing has left behind. "If if's and an's," I whisper.
What if it had to be one of us?
This is a line of thought I try to avoid. It is terrible and useless game of what-ifs. But my mind, half asleep is harder to rein in.
It could have been you instead.
More than half my family struggles with depression. It's not easy. When my mom was dying when I was fifteen, I pragmatically decided I did not want to live on this planet anymore and action ought to be taken. The psychiatrist called it depression as a result of post-traumatic stress: situational depression. That's a clinical term, and I'll tell you it felt angstier than that at the time.
I'm not worried about my present self in that way— like hell would I put my sister through this again. I have a lot of people around me with good psychological training to keep an eye on me in the coming months. I am also not a fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen year old girl anymore and like to think that I will not experience the same kind of situational depression. I've tried really hard to grow and develop emotionally since then. I have worked through a lot of my problems and have a much bigger toolbox of coping skills— even when they occasionally involve lying to myself for brief periods of time. This line of thinking is just bargaining to try and reason that somehow this will result in a best possible outcome for my life. This is an attempt to reason that this is a thing that happened for me and not to me. "It could have been me fifteen years ago. We can't pretend this is some kind of noble sacrifice. It's a devastating tragedy."
I've never known anything more in my life. Everyone is absolutely sorry about this. "There's no other way to feel."
A heaviness settles over the room and I no longer care to figure out whether I am awake or asleep or that I am talking to myself. "Do you imagine that we could feel anything else?"
There is some relief that comes with knowing that the worst has finally happened. Dan can never disappoint me more than this has. "This is definitively the most fucked up thing you'll ever do." I laugh and it echoes through my dreamspace.
It's not over yet.
"No, no it's not," I agree, and the dream was.