The strange thing about losing someone is that eventually you get back to your normal life. At some point in the grieving process, when you think about them you understand, even though you hate understanding it, that they are no longer here.
It’s an uncomfortable acceptance.
On the one hand because you are no longer gripped by the ignorance of shock, like we were with Matthew’s sudden passing, you realize that it’s true, he really is gone. But because it is a cold and horrific truth, you exhale slowly through the reality of it each time it hits you, because ultimately you hate that it’s true.
A flash of Matthew at age five still instantly projects itself on the white screen of my mind whenever I’m in another room and I can hear Deaglan laughing. It’s a strange phenomenon, because they aren’t related by blood. Matthew was my adoptive brother after all; which hurts me to have to clarify because in so many of the most important ways we were true siblings.
He was my brother.
When you lose someone significant, even when you’ve accepted that they’re gone from here, you never stop noticing the hole their absence has left. If you’re like me, you find yourself sometimes desperately trying to fill that hole. There’s a guy at work I’m constantly trying to win favour with. He’s charismatic, funny, smart.
And he’s gay.
I find myself longing for his friendship. I try to be my most entertaining, cool self when he’s around, save some of my best material for those times when we happen to be leaving work together. He’s likeable in general but I also feel oddly envious of his life. He is in his mid forties and lives with his long-time partner, who is equally lovely.
He’s comfortable in his skin, I can tell.
They live in a quiet little town outside of the city with their two dogs. They have a pool and go on vacation twice a year. And for an openly gay couple they are extremely well received in our work community. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like and respect them.
It’s the kind of life I always wanted for my brother.
I’ve been thinking about Matthew so much lately. He’ll be gone for three years as of next Tuesday, May 21.
His friend Libby has set up a charity run in his honor. She chose World Vision because up until his death Matthew was sponsoring a little girl from Bangladesh. She and some of her family and friends are going to run a half marathon to let the world know that Matt lives on in their memories. You can read her tribute here.
This past Saturday I pushed myself to run an extra five kilometres as a first step to get myself ready to join them.
I think he'd like us raising money to help children in need. He never experienced poverty like that; he grew up in a middle class family here in Canada. And he often told me that he loved nice things. I can attest to this - he always looked and smelled wonderful. But I know in his heart he understood that this was not all there was.
He really got it.
And it had more to do with the fact that he had three adopted sisters and one adopted brother who had first-hand experience with the wretched poverty of the third world, although I'm sure this helped shape who he was.
I think he was born with that kind of heart. The kind that felt things just a little more than the rest of us. The kind of heart that understood pain he wasn't living himself. It's one of the reasons I connected so well with him.