On Grief

I have once again lost the ability to write, but this time I know the exact reason why. I cannot write anything else until I write about my grief. I cannot write anything else until I write about Christopher

One month ago, on October 4th, my beloved cousin Christopher lost his battle with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The doctors didn’t think he would make it past eighteen, but he made it to two weeks shy of twenty-five. I could not be more proud of the person Christopher was. He was more than my cousin – he was my brother. He was a teacher. He was a mentor. He was a pain in the ass. He was the kindest soul. He was put on this earth in order to spread light and joy.

Christopher went into his wheelchair when I was four years old, so most of my memories of him are like that. But I remember still playing catch with him in the backyard. I remember him finding ways to roll the ball towards me because he couldn’t lift his arms to do an overhand throw. I remember finding another wheelchair and challenging him to a race, even though he definitely had more experience operating one than I did. I remember fighting Pappou to allow me to push Christopher in his wheelchair on our walks to the candy store… and then giving up about two minutes later because I was six and had no strength. I remember Christopher attempting to befriend my cat, Simba, when we first got him even though Simba was terrified of Christopher’s wheelchair.

I obviously remember more than just these little moments. But it is the little moments that stick with us far more than the major ones. 

Christopher was not the first loss during my life, or even during this year, but he’s definitely the one that hit me the hardest. We all knew that his time in this realm was ending soon, but nothing could’ve prepared us for the actual moment.

And nothing could’ve prepared me for the extent of the grief that I would experience.

As I’ve said before, I am currently in Orlando for the Disney College Program. This means that I was not at home when everything happened. I had to stay in Orlando for two more days until I could finally take a week off to be with my family. 

That week changed a lot. Before going home, I was so excited to go to work every day. I would make magic for children at every opportunity I had, no matter how small. But after getting that phone call, work carried a negative energy with it that I couldn’t shake. I was at work when I found out. I was at work when I broke down. I was at work when I said my final words to Christopher. Suddenly, being at work made me constantly think about that day.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why getting out of bed has been such a chore during this past month. Where I used to spend my days off going into the parks, I now spent them sleeping. If I could live my days unconscious, in a reality where Christopher was still alive, I would choose that in a heartbeat. I very nearly quit the program and returned home – something which I haven’t really talked about with anyone. It was as though the saturation was turned down in my life and there was no longer any color drawing me in. It took me weeks to realize my Depression was back in full force, and I didn’t know what to do about it.

My grief had set up a cage that I couldn’t escape. I was trapped watching life continue on around me while I stared from the outside. I couldn’t experience life and joy in the way that I once did because I was stuck. I had so many emotions building up behind a dam that refused to allow them to flood – and it wasn’t because I wouldn’t let them. I couldn’t let them. My heart couldn’t handle that amount of pain and I simply shut down.

It is only within the past week and a half that I’ve begun to allow cracks in my dam. I have found the keys to my cage and I am slowly turning the lock. Work is no longer a chore, although I’m not sure I will ever be able to go into the office I took the phone call in without wincing. But even with this progress, I’m still struggling.

I’m hoping that writing this all out will allow me to move forward. These words have swirled around in my head for a month, begging to be put in a home. Now that they have one, hopefully I can continue living my life the way Christopher would’ve wanted me to – happy and wreaking havoc on everything. 

Christopher, I love you more than anything. I know you’re okay where you are, and I can’t wait to see you again one day.

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