Five years. Today marks five years since Brandon’s death. March 1 – this day will forever be burned into memory. It was the last normal day I remember; the last day before the pain, the trauma, the sheer shock of that night morphed me into the person I am today. For the rest of my life there will always be a “before” and a “after”. Before his death and after his death. Life is divided into those two chapters now.
His death feels like it just happened yesterday. It feels like it happened a lifetime ago, to someone else entirely.
Five years of loss.
Five years of tears.
Five years of growth.
Five years of survival.
Five years of regrets and guilt.
Five years of bittersweet steps forward.
Five years of a completely new life.
I always thought that five years was this special milestone to reach. A milestone that would somehow change something, mean something new. A milestone that would be profound. And maybe it is. But it doesn’t feel very different. It’s just another year of life Brandon has missed. He’d be 30 years old today, soon to be 31. Yet he’ll always be 25.
The only new thing this year is the fact that starting tomorrow, he’ll be dead longer than I ever knew him.
That makes me so sad.
He will now be dead longer than we had together. Always.
I will say that I’m handling this deathaversary differently from last year. I was a mess last year, such a hot mess. For days leading up to the day my emotions were bouncing all over the place. I was very high and then very low. The day was concluded with a huge meltdown and I wrote about it through tear soaked and blurry eyes. Today I am dead calm. I’ve been dead calm all week. I haven’t cried. I haven’t felt much of anything other than just sad and maybe a little withdrawn. But I don’t know how much of this is due to it being the fifth deathaversary, and how much of it is due to Will’s upcoming deployment. I suppose the correct answer is a little from column A, a little from column B.
In the last five years, coincidentally, I’ve moved five times, three of those to different states. Moving away from where Brandon and I had our life was one of the best things for me. I couldn’t breathe in that city anymore, couldn’t go somewhere without memories swimming up, couldn’t get over that it’ll always be the place where he died; moving away was the right thing to do and I’ve been better for it. I miss living close to my family and friends dearly, but moving away has been wonderful for my mental health.
No one really talks about Brandon anymore. I don’t remember the last time my family mentioned him. I’m not mad that people don’t talk about him anymore, not like I used to be during the first couple of years. I don’t know if people just don’t want to upset me by bringing it up, if it makes them uncomfortable, or if they honestly just don’t think about it anymore. But it wasn’t their life that stopped and started over that day, so it’s okay. I think it was unfair of me to expect everyone to never stop talking about him.
The only person that I talk to about Brandon with any regularity, other than Will of course, is his best friend. I know he’ll be sad today and I know he’ll be missing his beer-brewing, goofy, farm-planting, car-tinkering friend.
So that’s a significant difference this year: I’m not upset with people anymore for not talking about Brandon or remembering what today is. I never thought this day would come, but here it is, five years later. Maybe this is yet another step in this never-ending process of grieving.
But just like in the previous years, some things aren’t different at all. I still miss him. I still think about him every day. I still wonder what he’d be doing today if he was alive. I’m still sad he is missing out on all the things life has to offer. But I suppose these things will never change.