Tomorrow, January 11, 2015, marks the one-year “anniversary” of my brother’s passing. While no time frame or date on a calendar could ever justify or help make sense of the loss my family has endured, I can’t help but to take a little more time than usual to reflect on what a whirlwind of a year it has truly been.
Surprisingly, losing Thomas made me more independent than ever before. It’s not that I don’t lean on friends and family when I need to; I’m grateful for the support and comfort that’s shown, and most days I embrace it. But death has had a way of making me not only realize, but truly believe, that I am the only one who controls my life. No one else. Not my parents, siblings, friends, coworkers, no one. Just me.
So in this past year, I stopped – to the best of my ability – over analyzing what others thought of me, my choices, my actions, all of it. I reminded myself that what others think of me is none of my business.
I invested more time into the power of my mind and all of its possibilities through the practice of yoga and also through the rapid consumption of content. Yoga helps me to focus on one thing at a time, control my anxiety, and continue to keep a positive state of mind. Additionally, I’ve stayed true to my personal goal of reading at least one book a month, and have made a more conscious effort to read publications and articles that are outside of my usual wheelhouse.
On top of that, I slowly but surely am figuring out the limits that I want to set for myself. I left a job that I didn’t enjoy (which led me to one that I love), I turn down plans that deep down I know I want no part of, and I’m more diligent about who I’m willing to share my time with. Overall, I’m smarter about when I say yes and when I say no.
Not all of these shifts of control were a product of some magical revelation I had when Thomas passed. And it doesn’t shed light into the cracks of sadness and honest depression that inevitably come from an unforeseen loss of a loved one. I still cry, throw questions out into the universe that can’t be answered, wish people were more compassionate and just nicer to each other (because why wouldn’t you be?) and wish that I had more than memories to hold onto.
But because I know that I only have control of myself, I choose to take care of my own life to the best of my ability. And on the one-year mark of his loss, I’m going to choose to celebrate Thomas and all of the quirks he had which I love and miss so dearly. I’ll watch the Cowboys game and hope they kick Green Bay’s ass. I’ll wear his Dallas scarf and sleep with his Dallas blanket and smile at old photos that I now cherish.
But i’m also going to make sure that I take a second to give myself some credit. Because for 365 days, I chose to keep going and not let something that happened to me dictate my next steps. To continue on despite hardships, no matter the kind, is something we should all be proud of.
So here’s to you, and here’s to me, and here’s to my brother Thomas. May we all choose to keep going.