I have spent a couple of months not thinking about my brothers absence.
My group grief counseling ended some months ago and I have not sought out more. The group sessions were a mostly pleasant and vaguely helpful exercise, but I don't know if I could name any lasting effects. (Other than everyone confirming that it must be much harder to lose a brother to murder than an elderly parent to age.)
There are shows happening in Madison, a tribute downtown by other artists and a show in our high school of his own work. Other things are being planned, his dear friends are continuing their work in spreading his legacy with the website, and so it continues.
It's hard to explain what I mean when I say I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about Brendan or his death in the last couple of months... I am always thinking about him in the sense that he, or his memory, is always present somewhere in my mind, just as I don't technically forget that he's dead. But it's almost like I've taken a vacation from grief, and frankly it really hasn't done me any good.
I've found myself thinking of his murderer as I fall asleep, not just at night but when I try and take naps. It's the subject that is most painful and difficult to face so when my guards and consciousness are most relaxed it confronts my mind. I wake up feeling unsettled and tense, like something is wrong and you can't figure out what it is nor can you fix it. In this case I do know what it is, but I certainly can't fix it.
The sadness and anger hits me harder now, and more suddenly. I feel like the best way to describe my state is functionally devastated. More than a year has passed since Brendan died so if there was one, the official period of mourning would be over. I talk to his friends less and less, we've passed all the holidays and birthdays at least once, and it's just not new anymore for most people...
To us, it's Always new.
I wish I could describe it more accurately but I don't know how.
The pain, while duller, is just as painful. The absence is just as large if not larger. The things that remind us how much we miss him are more numerous the more days that pass. As I accept how much I want my own children one day I grow equally angry they won't get to know their Uncle, and that he won't get to know my children. It is devastatingly unfair that he won't get to have children and that I won't get to know my nieces or nephews.
So while my brother is always on my mind, I'm not thinking moment to moment about what I'm missing. These days rather than a steady absence, I will remember suddenly, at the deepest part of a deep breath, that Brendan's not coming back; rather than a constant numbness it's short and brutal.
I am exhausted.