Bridges are so symbolic. After losing someone you love, there's a great danger in constantly trying to go back...to stay stuck on the bridge spanning the rift of before and afterwards. It's hard to find the balance between moving forward and reconciling with what lies behind you.
When my brother died, so many people told me life would get back to normal, but for my family, our old 'normal' was never coming back--Nathaniel was gone and everything involving that relationship was missing. After the funeral, my parents and I faced the lengthy sorrow of trying to redefine how our family would function in the future, how our lives would play out from that point--even sitting down to dinner as a family was heartbreaking. Nathaniel's nonappearance was louder than our presence, and we faced the constant reminder that nothing new could ever happen between us and him.
Redefining normal is such a fluid process--the search for stable ground, an adventure. It will never be over. There will never come an exact moment when I can type my last thought, hit the print button and declare, "It's finished"...because dealing with loss doesn't necessarily get easier...it just gets different.
While my life has settled into another normal place, things will never return to the way they were while my brother was alive. When I try to take it in, the truth of it is still too enormous to grasp--knowing I'll never again find myself folded in the warmth of his hug or the thrill of his laughter.
I will never simply burn the bridge between what happened and afterwards. I will always be redefining. At each new stage in my children's lives, I reconcile with the reality that my brother will never meet them. I embrace with amazed wonder the gift of knowing him for eighteen years and worship in awe the Creator who is on my side, at work in my life, who allowed me to walk for a brief moment with such a special person.
I am constantly crossing the bridge between two extremes--remembering and appreciating the magic and mystery of being Nathaniel's sister and getting so caught up in life now that I block it out all together.
Excerpts from my up-coming book, After Nathaniel