Which should explain why I only published three blogs over the month.
I was my best friends maid of honor and shared a magical weekend with her family, mine, and a group of some of the most wonderful people on the planet. I loved taking charge and knowing what needed to be done without her having to tell me, I loved feeling like I was really helping her marry this man, whom I love too; I loved being around all the people, I loved the ceremony of it all, I loved the kids, I loved staying up until sunrise every night with her brother who became a man and a father in the eight years since I had last seen him, I loved all the music and drinking and food, all the quotations that only those of us who were around all weekend really get ("that's what she said"), I loved my sister being such a help to me and everyone and my parents being able to celebrate with us, I loved being around my oldest and best friends for days straight, and I love being included in everything this family that invited me in 20 years ago did.
I spent about 36 hours in Virginia for a wedding that most of this country would consider invalid. The 'best-of-times-worst-of-times' year of my life was survived because of a small group of friends, a few of whom have survived in this group we call the Jager Girls. (Yes, that Jager.) That year in Fayetteville we drank a lot, we fought a little, we never got arrested, and together we survived what was for most of us the most difficult year of our lives. They are the ones that didn't ask but just showed up after Brendan died; they cooked and brought liquor (Jager, duh) and cigarettes, distraction, tissues, hugs, and so much love.
Around that time two years ago Mel was about to leave the job she had held and excelled at for most of her adult life because they said she couldn't love Dawn and still do her job. (They are proof, by the way, that that rule is bullshit.) Dawn and Mel live together in Virginia now and as of early June are happily (and legally, thanks to the District of Columbia) married. I got to be there to celebrate, help with a garter, drink a lot, cry a little, laugh more than anything, and love some of my favorite women (and some of their children) in the world.
My sister spent the last three years, arguably the most difficult of her life, working on a masters degree from a very important and very expensive school. She'd argue the ivy is bullshit but damn if it doesn't have a nice ring to it. She finished in May. In June (the day I came back to Madison from VA) we had a nice little party for her. Our sister from another mister gave us the theme, my mom and I brainstormed the map as guestbook, I found Dora napkins, and we had enough sparkling goodness that Megan had a full glass the whole night. It was lovely.
The day after Megan's party was the day before the 2-year mark of our brother dying. This year it rained, and there were fewer people, but it was just about perfect. There was printing and drinking and crying and laughing. Brendan was remembered, and toasted more than once. This sting is so much less now than it was even a year ago, yet the absence is larger than ever. It's been that much longer since I heard him laugh, since I heard him say "HI sister...". I have some new shirts, and Solve has many more fans. He'll never be gone, but my life will never be whole.
A few days later, I came back to California. I wasn't as happy as I should have been to come home, but seeing Aunt and Uncle and the dogs (who helped Uncle pick me up from the bus stop, along with a cold beer hidden under an ice pack) made it warm and loving.
Now I am moving forward. Spending lots of time on things that feel good and spending enough time on things that I have to. I am making decisions and sticking to them. I am practicing trusting myself. I am feeling loved. I am feeling hope. I am so excited for what's to come. I am 10 days in to being 29, and it's going to be a great year.