As I drove to work this morning, he was on my mind. Eric is often on my mind on the way to work. I think it's because of the peace and quiet a car ride can bring you without three kids in the back. I'm not even really sure what I think about- it's not really memories or wondering how he is, but more just seeing his face, saying his name in my mind. Allowing my heart to feel his absence and giving myself permission and some time to grieve all over again.
It's hard, sometimes, remembering him. The last couple years of his life, he wasn't himself. He was often a lying, cheating, stealing addict... crippled sick with his disease. He was also helpless, hopeless, and desperate. He was misunderstood by me. I did not understand addiction as a disease like I do now. I did not understand what drugs had done to his brain, his conscience, his ability to feel. I did not understand the pull drugs have over an addict, how truly powerless he was.
The beauty is, when I let my mind go there, I can remember Eric- the real Eric. My first companion and my first friend.
Besides those quiet early morning drives when he inevitably lets me feel his spirit, he continues to leave "gifts" for me- ways for me to remember he's there.
- I know he sent Prim, our cat, to be with me when I needed something the most. I had lost my brother and suffered our first miscarriage in the same week. When Prim literally showed up on my parent's door step a few days after, I told Josh I needed to take care of something. She was such a healer for me at that time.
- My sister-in-law, Jessica has vivid dreams where he comes to her. I think they are spirit animals or something. In these dreams, he is always playing with our kids. This gives me such peace thinking he is taking care of the two babies we lost and also gives me reassurance that he would have been and wanted to be the best uncle. He has also correctly predicted EVERY.SINGLE.BABY. that's ever been born in my family. All three of my boys AND my two nieces were revealed in dreams to Jessica.
- Keeping his birthday just his birthday- Having all three of my kids born in early May, I was holding my breath in the 20s of April hoping I would not go into any labor on Eric's day. I asked him to make sure his day is only his and so far he's listened ;)
-The way my boys talk about Eric- We are still muddling through how to explain death to Nolan and Judah. I've talked about Uncle Eric with them and every so often, they will bring him up out of nowhere. They've said they've talked to him or gone to visit him while they are pretending, but I know it's more than that :)
-Christmas stocking- My mom wanted to make sure my brother's stocking was full on Christmas just like the rest of ours so each year, she gives us an ornament with a picture of my brother. Sometimes it's an old family picture, sometimes it's just a picture with him and I or him and another one of my sisters. Each year, we always know we're getting a piece of him, a memory of him.
It's difficult to lose someone the way we lost my brother- it's difficult to have things left unsaid, relationships not at their very best, and to have a sense of relief knowing the demons Eric was fighting aren't plaguing us or him anymore. I think that makes it all the more important that these little "gifts" be present.