I’ve written and re-written this blog post a hundred times.
I decided today was the day to finally finish and share it.
Today would’ve been my brother Kjell’s 36th birthday.
For 15 years now on February 9th, and of course many days other than his birthday, we remember a life lost and think about what might have been.
Kjell had the most kind and gentle soul of anyone I’ve ever known. He was quiet and funny. He spent most of his younger years with crooked or broken large-rimmed glasses. His hair had cowlicks and slight natural curl to it and was always sticking up somewhere. He loved being outside. He loved animals, especially our first dog Cocoa. He had a fascination with fire and a burn hole in the middle of his bedroom carpet to prove it. He loved sports, and I can remember playing basketball and kickball for hours on the farm and I still have his favorite MJ bball.
I cried recently when my sister told me that she’s been telling her oldest son, who’s 5, about Kjell for a while now because she wants him to know who his uncle was. I honestly haven’t done this with Brooklyn and it made me very sad that I haven’t. Sometimes the little ones understand more about what’s important in life than the adults, so what am I waiting for?
Kjell took his own life 15 years ago. He was just 20 years old.
It’s been very hard to find any semblance of comfort over the years. It’s hard to come to terms with it all. It’s hard not to have guilt….why didn’t I see it?…why didn’t I do more?….why didn’t I tell him I loved him more often?….why didn’t I give him a hug the last time I saw him? So many questions and so little answers.
It was a very dark time in my life and of course it changed my family forever. Looking back, I’m not sure any of us knew what to do or say and of course everyone handles grief differently so it often felt like we were just going through the motions, numb…sad…often paralyzed. I couldn’t be alone. I had panic attacks and nightmares for months. I gained 40 lbs. in less than two years. Food became a comfort for me more than it ever had.
A question was posed last week in my last challenge group asking what everyone’s biggest fear was. It’s no surprise most of us said death. Afraid of dying ourselves, afraid of leaving our kids and our families behind, and many of us were moms and of course were most afraid of losing a child. We’ve all lost someone close to us and we don’t want to feel like that again and we wouldn’t wish the feeling on anyone. But, I recently heard something about life and death that really hit me. It was something about how people who have lived faith-filled lives and lives without regret are not as fearful of dying…while those without faith and who have doubts and regrets are very fearful.
It hurts beyond belief to know he was less afraid of dying than he was of living.
But, we have to keep the faith and believe in our hearts that we will see him again. And, with each passing year, I am learning to live my life in faith and in love and without regret.
I was singing this song to myself this morning, and at first I honestly didn’t even know why but then I really started to think about the lyrics. I would love if you go listen to the whole song or go find the rest of the lyrics…but I wanted to end with this part of it….
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance….I hope you dance.