A Year of Love and Loss
Today is a hard day to describe, but then again, I bet you know that. It feels like both 9 minutes and 9 years since my heart has had the privilege of beating in sync with yours. The overwhelming wave of trauma, grief, and sadness that usually laps at my feet, ebbing and flowing, has turned into a typhoon threatening to swallow me up. Each memory of that day stamped into my brain in a still image, each hour strung together by fragmented memories that stick in my brain like needles in a pin cushion.
The phone call. The overwhelm. The scramble. The desperation. The bargaining. The pleading.
“He can’t be gone. No” Over, and over, and over.
A fog has surrounded the bay of my brain, it is thicker some days than others. Some day’s I can’t see the shore and other days I manage to safely return home, relying on the lighthouses, the bright lights, to guide me. Even still, some days I sit in the rough waters, letting the swells take me to see where I end up, ignoring the lights blinking on the shore out of anger, out of sadness, out of despair.
On the worst days, I try to remember that half of what lies beneath my skin and bones is you and that so few people get that privilege. That 50% of my DNA feels like it is on fire, fuelling me forward, intuitively pushing me in the right direction, a direction that feels a lot like who I’m meant to be, now.
Not everyone sees it (perhaps it’s subtle to those who forget how we looked as kids, or to those who only see momma in my face, and see so much of dads in yours) but every time I pass a mirror I am reminded. I stand there, eyes wide, quietly identifying the parts of my face that look so much like yours. The Puddister eyebrows, the exact same eyes, long eyelashes that had to be picked from our eyes like splinters as children.
I am trying though. I am fighting. I go to battle for my survival each day when I open my eyes. A part of my survival has become keeping your memory alive, speaking your name proudly, and never altering or betraying your story or memory by juggling the hard parts of your life in the same hand as the good times. The Jacob Puddister Memorial Foundation carries your heart and your mission to see no person struggle without support, without love, and without kindness.
Your heart was so big and so broken. 365 days ago, at almost exactly this moment, all of the love within that heart expanded and exploded into the atmosphere of everyone who loved you, who shared in knowing what lied behind a sometimes tough exterior. I am building my strength, my life, my home, with the pieces you’ve left here for me (because, while some days it is easy only to see the loss, other days all I can see is the love you’ve left behind).
Sweet boy, this has been the hardest year of my whole life. I run through every memory of you I have, writing them down, engraving them into my head, desperate not to forget one single moment. The road trip to California where you unwillingly learned all of the lyrics to Part of your World and I unwillingly learned every line to King Kong. You “accidentally” punching me in the nose outside the West Ed Mall. Epic games of “the floor is lava” where Little Foot and Momma Bernstein Bear would often meet their maker. Trying to out-flip each other on the trampoline. Christmas traditions. Halloween traditions. Your favourite colour. Your childhood room. I stare at your picture, memorizing every line, trying to remember the details. The mole on the side of your face. Every tattoo (even the one that totally looked like a dead baby). The way your nose curves a little like moms. You. Every inch of your perfect self.
One year of relief from your pain. One year free of heartache. One year of rest from fighting like fucking hell to stay here with us. That is what I choose to focus on today, through my tears, through the anger, through the hot searing pain of knowing I’ll never share this amazing, ridiculous, tough, and painful earth with you again.
We survived a year we thought would eat us whole. We survived the inconceivable, the inconsolable. Grieving you is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I refuse to give up. I refuse to let anything but the love win.
Every day I wake up and try to be the sister you thought I was. If you can see me down here, fists up, fighting like hell, just know that I will never lose this battle because I am fighting it for you.
With your heart, Jakey