I know when the season of sadness is approaching, not because I mark the days or because my brain reminds me. It is with my body that I remember. The brisk aroma of lilacs filling pockets of the air, the sights of the world blooming with rebirth. The sounds of laughter and baseballs being hit across fields. My bones collect the wear of the years. I know because my body tells me.
Anyone who has lost someone so significant understands the season of sadness. They have their own.
It is the time before, filled with trepidation that comes before the anniversary of loss. You wonder how you will make it through this year. How shall I survive this immense and neverending suffering? Will my family be okay? Or worse yet, will anyone remember? Does anyone else care? The loss permeates your thoughts, and there are moments spent crying loudly to music blaring in your car, or the shower where you try to imagine the agony being washed away.
What I have learned, and I often reassure myself with during the season of sadness is that it is often worse than that actual day. Maybe the days leading up to that day empty you out, I haven’t quite figured it all out yet.
I remember years ago, talking with my “sibs” otherwise known as the small group of siblings of other missing and murdered children from across the United States, about how to “handle” those hard days. One of the sibs, Martha Ryce, who had lost her brother Jiimmy to an abduction and murder in Florida in 1995 told us all a story about how one time she tried to forget about that day, to just ignore it. The problem was, that her body wouldn’t let her and despite her best efforts that idea had not worked. We never came up with any answers, but we did share our experiences around those days, and that is what actually made us feel better. Every time I am desperately despondent I imagine my siblings and that feeling we generated together, an understanding that no one else shared with us in the world. It always makes me feel safe.
As I begin my 23rd season of sadness I remind myself that I am not alone in this journey. I share this ache with so many others and I know they hold space for me, as I continue to grieve the loss of my sweet sister.