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reflections on a decade {4/30/14}

Kelley Clink

Today is the tenth anniversary of my brother's suicide.

For the first five years after his death, this season destroyed me. The snow would melt, the leaves would unfurl, and time would tear him away all over again. But eventually the grief softened. Writing the memoir helped immensely. Discovering meditation and Buddhism did, as well. But maybe it would have turned out like this even if I hadn't done a thing. Maybe time itself turns someone's absence into his presence. I don't really know. What I do know is that I miss him a little more keenly every April 30th. I miss knowing the person he would have become. I miss him knowing the person that I am. 

This year the ache is especially poignant. After five years, three surgeries, three rounds of IVF, and hundreds of tears, my husband and I are finally expecting our first child--a son. I find myself wondering if I will see my brother in him. I wonder what kinds of questions he will ask about his uncle. I wonder how I will answer them.

Ten years after Matt's death, I want to share a a complicated truth: I hate that my brother is dead, but I love who I became because of it. With one action he cracked my foundations, and over the years my walls came tumbling down. Those years were pure terror. I was broken, bleeding, and exposed. Life--every moment of it--hurt.

But that pain led me to compassion. That pain led me to change. That pain forced me to accept myself for who I am, allowed me to find the beauty, joy, and love at the root of all my grief. 

I won't say it doesn't still hurt, sometimes. I will say that more often than not I am grateful for the pain.

I love you, little brother. Every motherfucking day.

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