10 Years… How Long is that, Exactly?

18 May

I took this picture on Glenn’s birthday this year. Not much is in bloom in March, but if you look really hard, in the upper right corner, you can see in the distance some pretty little blue flowers -sort of a purple haze – in the grass.

Some people will have you believe that 10 years is a long time.  It’s a decade; and our world really likes to work with 10’s.  We celebrate and cheer when a couple reach their 10-year wedding anniversary, and every decade after that too.  When our children turn 10, it’s a big deal because they are really no longer little people: they are on the cusp of teen years, requiring more freedom and control over their lives.  In any given 10 year period, people get married, and some get divorced; people are born, and people pass away; homes are built, bought, lived in and sold again.  Holidays are celebrated, milestones are marked, time passes.

10 years is almost half of my brother’s life.  He turned 21 in March, and then passed away in May.  If you think about half of your life, there is no doubt – however old you are – that it’s a long time.

I found that when we had come to the 5-year anniversary of his passing, we had really encountered all of the “firsts”.  The first move without his scrawny, wiry frame foisting around the equivalent of his body weight.  The first babies to our family were conceived, birthed and celebrated.  We had faced all of the holidays (Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, his birthday – all of our birthdays for that matter – Easter and then the dreaded Victoria Day weekend), and the trial against the driver of the car was all said and done.  We knew what to expect as each event came, we knew how we reacted to the approach of days like tomorrow, we could anticipate what our life would be like until it ends.

We’ve been to weddings and funerals: some happened in the church from which Glenn was buried, as well as the funeral home who prepared his body for his “final rest”, as they like to say.  It would seem that we’ve done it all.

Does that mean it’s long enough?  Does that mean that I don’t still think about him?  Does that mean that on occaision a thought of him catches me unaware and I burst into tears over his absence in my life?

No.  No it does not mean that.

5 years later, 10 years later, and I imagine 30 years later, I will still mourn his absence in my life.  A friend of mine recently said to me that she thinks of her loss as, “Well, that’s 10 years you’ve missed me and 10 years that I’ve missed you.”  I suppose that’s apt.  Because you know, while I believe that he’s with me and in a better place and happy and all that; while I talk to him routinely and believe that he sometimes answers me; it’s not the same.

We’ve healed as much as we can; what’s really happened is that we have morphed into different people.  People who don’t know shocking loss will tell you that “Time heals all wounds.”  The truth that I have come to live with is that in fact that’s not at all true.  You just get used to living with the pain.  It becomes a partner in your life, a companion who is always with you, an old friend you can count on.

So Glenn, you’ve missed a lot.  Your nephews and your niece, roller coaster rides, new pasta dishes, awesome new video games, the last 2 installments in the Lord of the Rings movie adaptations.  I too, have missed so much.

Who would you be now?  Would you be a father?  Would you be living in the country like you always wanted?  Would you be working with dogs, or any animals?  Would you be married?  Would you have finished high school? I guess that’s where it gets different.  What your life would be like is a series of unanswered questions, because it just ended.  It just ended as it was getting started really, and I miss terribly not being able to see the man you would have become.

Happy anniversary, Chum.  Wish you were here.


Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Family


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3 responses to “10 Years… How Long is that, Exactly?

  1. Susan Scrimgeour

    May 18, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    beautiful piece my love … well written and SO true ! xoxo

  2. Cate Collins

    November 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    What a well written piece Michelle. Thank you for being transparent about your personal grief journey. By sharing, you give permission to others who are grieving the opportunity to reach out to. What a wonderful way to celebrate your brother’s life of what it was and what it would have been.
    Hugs my friend. Cate xo


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