This past Thursday Ryan and I went to our friend Oliver’s funeral. Afterward, people asked how it went which isn’t really a fitting question because it went… awful… but like many things, there isn’t really a better alternative.
It is a strange progression you go through when someone you love dies. It is, at first, such a sharp pain, particularly when it is sudden- as was Oliver’s death. As the days pull you along though, the sharpness turns into more of a dull ache, an ever present monkey-on-your back so to speak. But then you start to beg that monkey to stay because you fear that once that ache isn’t there, what if you start to forget? What if you begin to realize that the memory of that hard laugh is fading? It makes you want to wallpaper the house with pictures so he is an ever present personality in your life.
But, as I try to remind myself, you don’t forget. It is okay that your emotions shift because no one can cry like this forever and working through pain gets you to a place where you can remember the time Oliver didn’t know you weren’t supposed to eat the fatty ham piece in the can of baked beans and genuinely laugh with the memory instead of breaking down again, as I am now. (Using tissue I bought without realizing it was tinted pink and reminds me of old ladies’ bathrooms with padded toilet seats.)
Mending the tear in my heart from Oliver’s loss does not discredit the brotherly love I have for him. It doesn’t do Oliver’s family or wife Raquel a disservice to not mourn as deeply or for as long as they will and should. It doesn’t mean that my affection for my friend was only fleeting. Living fully does not mean fully forgetting, or forgetting at all. It means learning to look at my future with the eyes of someone who is a different person because of the optimism and grit of my friend. I am different because of him. Even if I am not directly thinking of Oliver, he is here because his character is now ingrained with my own. For that, I am thankful. (And still crying. The monkey is still fully here for now… And that. Is okay. Too.)