One of the commitments I made out loud and in my heart the day Dominic left us was this: I was not going to let his death tear my family apart.
I was not going to let him become the sainted brother that stood apart and above his siblings.
I was going to continue to give as much of my time, effort, love and presence to each of the three I had left as I had done when there were four on earth beside me.
I’ve been more or less successful in keeping this promise.
I have no doubt that if you asked my living children, they could give you examples when I’ve failed. Some days are just too much. Some events are too hard to attend.
Some moments I am overwhelmed
and there’s no way to hide it.
But I’ve learned a few things that help me be present, attentive and joyful for the beautiful things that are happening around me.
One of those is to set aside time whenever possible to “pre-grieve” an upcoming celebration or gathering.
I allow my heart to feel all the things it needs to feel. I journal the questions and comments and (sometimes) anger that would otherwise overflow and ruin a moment. I write to Dominic and tell him how much I miss him, how much I wish he were here and how very hard it is to mark another happy occasion without him.
I mentally rehearse walking in, greeting people, making small talk.
I think ahead to any big moments that might tap emotions I need to hold in check. I even plan an “escape route” should I need it. Just knowing it exists has always been enough so far.
Sometimes I find a song that suits my mood.
And then I choose a token I can wear or slip in my pocket to remind me that I’ve got this.
I can show up and smile (honestly) because I’ve already loosed the dam of grief and let the stored up torrent flow over the spillway.
I’ve learned the hard way that memories are precious. I don’t want the ones I’m making now to always be tainted by sorrow and loss.
Dominic is never far from my thoughts and always in my heart.
I’m not abandoning nor forgetting him.
I honor him by honoring his siblings.