Hold On

“I don’t know where I’m gonna go, Don’t know what I’m gonna do, Well must be somebody up above,
Saying come baby girl, You gotta get back up, You gotta hold on, Yeah you gotta hold on, Yeah you gotta wait, Yeah you gotta wait”—Alabama Shakes

*Forgive my unannounced sabbatical, I was unable and unmotivated to post anything the past month. But I’m back and ready to clog your emails! Take a look at the post I wrote (but didn’t publish) 12/24. Happy New Year!*

We all have out countdowns. Mine happened to be 10days until dooms day. A whole year has passed since my brother died, since the matchstick was held to my drawing of the world. Left with tattered scraps of a convoluted masterpiece, I can barely make out the original image from its charred remains.

The worst thing about losing a loved one is how easy it is to keep living without them. Not easy in a sense that you don’t mourn them, crave them, miss them daily, hourly—but that you can wake up one day and it’s the anniversary of their passing. In the cliché blink of an eye a year has passed. I’m left wondering what I have to show for this year. What am I holding in my hands at the end of the day?

At a friend’s Thanksgiving party we all went around the room to declare what we are thankful for this year. Going second to last was a blessing and a curse. Great because I was able to hear of the trials and triumphs the other attendees gave in thanks. Awful because of the trained eyes who actually have to hear my truth. I don’t sugarcoat anymore, glossing over the roughened edges of misapplied polish with a clear coat, adding a perfect sheen to an off-kilter manicure. I speak reality and live in the light. Never knew how many shadows composed my figure, a dense layer of constant hiding to prevent the vulnerability of exposure.

So I was honest in my thanksgiving—content in the thought that with the traipsing of this year I didn’t lose my joy; I didn’t give up my worldly optimism; and as one hopes every year I became a better me.

I’m starting to see the lesson in his leaving even as my vitality tests in ways unimagined. The self-professed resiliency tatted over every footfall—keep going, keep striding. “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Six years later, and the charge of unquestionable assurance still rings true. To stand still, to hold one’s breath until the notion of not breathing becomes the norm: the thought that your lungs will still function without you ordering them, because your steps are ordered by a higher calling. Unquestionable Assurance.

No joke, it’s easier to give up. The fools escape I suppose, the schedule that only gives until it crumbles all around you. Holiday sorrows kick in I suppose, seasonal depression when your memories of holiday past shroud the present in sadness.

Always acceptance and understanding; Always resignation and poise. Where is your heart? Believe me, if I wasn’t obliged to hold on, I could provide proof enough of a broken heart for even the most skeptical of naysayers.

Until then, it’s just another day in the life.