I've noticed that people tend to stop blogging during times of great distress or sadness, and so it is with me.
My brother-in-law died at the beginning of this month. It wasn't unexpected, though still a complete shock to the system. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last August and chose to do chemo; it has been a slow downward spiral since. I haven't blogged about it at all because it has been too painful and private. Too terrible. Too unbelievably sad.
He was 44 years old, a devoted husband and father of five children ages 20-12. While it is devastating for so many of us, it is amazingly hard to fathom the hole left in the hearts and home of his wife and children, or the pain of losing a child for Blaine's parents. We are heartsick.
I was at my parents' house in WA during the time of his final decline. It was incredible and very fortunate timing. We didn't realize this at the beginning and felt upset at being separated, but how were we to know? The trip had been planned months ahead of time. And while he was struggling, we had no idea that death was so close.
But it was good, so very good. In our absence, Blaine was completely unencumbered, both physically and emotionally, and able to be there with his brother in the final days. It was an incredibly important and transformative experience, to be there with his parents and sister, our sister-in-law, nephews and nieces, loving their beloved into the transition of death and life beyond death. It was so incredibly painful, but also so incredibly amazing. The depth of emotion. The devotion. Love, raw and real. The intensity of pain.
I spoke of this to Blaine's aunt at the funeral, of how simultaneously terrible and remarkable the experience was. As I fumbled over the words with my heart so heavy with emotion and grief, she looked right into my eyes and said, "I know."
So now we are pushed into the realm of understanding death as an amazing experience, an event that holds its own against the incredible joy of birth. Accompanied with grief and desolation in place of the anticipation and elation, but singular and astounding nevertheless. We just never knew.
Ultimately, we are left with the grief of losing him. Now that we have moved back into the unrelenting duty of life, it is easy to pretend that he is still at work and home, like "normal". The pain has dulled with each passing week, but stabs in waves with the remembrance that he isn't there, which is a leisure his wife and children don't experience for more than a few moments.
As my sister-in-law said, "Everything goes back to him." And it hurts. So much.
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