today, I am thankful for:
being able to drive with the windows down.
washing my hair, finally.
setting a bench press PR.
peach baked oatmeal for dinner. because, I felt like it.
there it is. a glimpse into my gratitude journal. and while some of those things may seem menial to you, believe it or not, I haven't washed my hair since Saturday. and I'm writing this on Tuesday.
because, life is a bitch. despite the fact that I know my life is beautiful, I now have to make an intentional effort to remind myself of the bright spots; the tiny wins. like a child, I'm reduced to outlining daily positives. because these days, it all gets drowned out by the darkness far too easily. 17 weeks ago my brother lost his battle with addiction. died. alone. in a cold hotel room. without a "goodbye" or an "I love you", and ever since, my world has been an unpredictable hurricane of emotions.
some days, it's easier to drown out the noise. distraction, obligation, entertainment, they all help me to pretend my life is normal; unchanged from that day. but then there are those days. days that feel endlessly dark. days spent swarmed by a cocktail of unwanted emotions. fear. anxiety. anger. sadness. angst. and others that I've never felt before and would've been happy never having known.
I like to think I'm getting over it, those initial feelings, and that I'm healing. but, every bad day reminds me of just how devastated my heart really is. sometimes there's an obvious trigger, a special date, a memory, or a few minutes spent looking at old photographs. but then other times the trauma strikes without warning. one minute I have myself (seemingly) together and the next minute...I'm a sloppy wet mess, curled into a ball in a dark room because the world just seems to be too much. the grief is like a disease that has spread to every part of my body, infecting every corner of my life.
some days I'm able to recognise and appreciate that he's no longer suffering. that addiction no longer has chains wrapped around his soul, cutting off his very will to give sobriety another try. I will forever be thankful that his dark days are over. But what about my selfish soul? How do I get over the fact that my mom has lost a child and will mourn forever? or the fact that my dad has lost his only son and along with that, the Cascio name? or that my future children will never know the "fun uncle" we always joked he would be, living in our basement and feeding them junk food. or that the world will never know him as the genuinely sensitive person he was, but merely another statistic of a devastating epidemic.
the answers to those questions escape me. but, I'm doing it. getting by day by day, highlight the good bits like a middle school librarian. surviving some days requires a three hour nap and a stern talking to, but I'm doing it. because, I refuse to let the drug that took his life, also take mine. He would've hated seeing the darkness seep into my life. He would have stood in opposition at the very thought.
trust this my fellow grief-stricken friends, the waves will lessen in size and intensity as days pass and the memories remain. and so, until then, hold tight to the blessings. find the light in the darkness. and be forever grateful that you had something so undeniably special that saying goodbye feels like the worst possible thing ever.
Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.