Memories become fragmented over time, the edges blurring as details fade. Sounds are lost to incomplete recollections, familiar scents drift away, life carries on and we find ourselves wondering… did that really happen?
It has been almost eight years now since my brother died. Experiencing a trauma like that, part of you freezes right then and there – time stands still as your mind struggles to comprehend what just happened, as it tries to deny reality. But other than this moment, this part of you, the rest of time moves relentlessly forward.
This morning, watching videos of past happy moments, it struck me for not the first time how incredibly young he was – how young we all were. We were just kids, really. He was nineteen; I was not quite fifteen. And now here I am, almost twenty-three, married and with a family of my own and I wonder, where on earth has the time gone? Did that younger me really exist?
The greater the distance grows the easier it is to question, to subconsciously convince myself that my past was fiction. Admitting that is difficult, embarrassing – as if by doing so, I am dishonoring his memory. Perhaps I’m overthinking and all I’m really doing is protecting myself from the pain of it – or maybe this is really how people ‘move on’. I don’t honestly know. But there are times where I do look back and wonder, was that really my life? Are these memories mine?
The passage of time frightens me, to be honest. It marches steadily on, whether you can keep in stride or not. One moment you’re there living, the next it’s a memory, and then suddenly it’s a fragmented remembrance dimmed by distance. The days melt rapidly away into years, and I find myself overwhelmed by it all. I know that this life is not all there is; I know that we were made for something more, made for eternity with our Creator and Sustainer. But it can be difficult to not get wrapped up in this space of time we call life.
Almost eight years; a lifetime. I miss my brother tremendously. The pain of that loss is still there, still sharp when I’m willing to acknowledge it. I don’t actually doubt his existence; I know that he was real, and I am so grateful for the growing up we had together. I am thankful for all that he brought to my life, even if that includes incredible pain. It is hard to admit that the memories fade, that I don’t recall them as often as I used to.
This morning, I watched videos of him with my baby girl. Told her a bit about her Uncle Joshy. Oh, it breaks my heart that she will never know him. I know she would have adored him, and he would have loved her even more. It’s hard not having someone you love as a part of your life. Josh’s death still feels so wrong, even having been witness to all the beauty God wrought from it. It still feels wrong to have this hole in me, for him to die so very young.
But I have hope. Josh loved his Savior and has spent nearly eight most joyous years in His presence. What’s more, he was there to welcome my sweet little Jude this summer, and I know that someday God will end grief and pain once and for all. Someday, we will all be together and united in the presence of our King, and it will be paradise.
Until then, we live with our brokenness. We acknowledge and accept the past, embrace the pain, look with hope to the future. It is going to be so beautiful.
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