Nothing Lasts Forever

24 Mar

I don’t know how it started. I don’t remember if someone gave me this tip when I was young and it stuck with me. But somewhere along the way, I learned this coping skill, and it’s something I repeat to myself often, sometimes multiple times a day.
“Nothing lasts forever.”
I cannot run another second on this treadmill. “Nothing lasts forever.”
This day of work is never going to end. “Nothing lasts forever.”
My baby will never ever ever sleep through the night. “Nothing lasts forever.”

Shit labor hurts. “Nothing lasts forever.”

For some reason, this little mantra works for me. If I can remember that whatever difficult/annoying/painful/boring thing I’m going through isn’t going to last forever and will eventually be over, it makes it easier to bear.

It also helps me to remember to live in the moment and enjoy what this wonderful life has provided for me. In the same way that bad things don’t last forever, sometimes the good things don’t either.

 My babies still hug me and kiss me and have chubby cheeks and adorable fat rolls. “Nothing lasts forever.”

 If I drop a few more pounds, I could probably be in a bikini for the summer. “Nothing lasts forever.”

 I’m so lucky my parents are such amazing grandparents to my kids. “Nothing lasts forever.”

It took 23 years for me to run into a situation in which “Nothing lasts forever” didn’t apply.

My brother died on March 24, 2006. It has been five years since I have heard his voice. Five years since he took a breath or hugged his son or smiled. I have since had two babies, switched jobs, moved. There have been earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis. When he was alive, there was no iphone. DVR wasn’t in every home and the United States had never elected an African American president.  He has missed so much. The anger I have about this situation sits on the surface of my soul, threatening to take over.

 When the pain overwhelms me, as it still does on an almost daily basis, telling myself “Nothing lasts forever” doesn’t work. This will hurt forever. Or at least for as long as I live. It doesn’t get easier. The pain changes, yes. It has become my new life, my new state of being, my new “normal”. But it is there. Always.

 Today I took Nolan to the scene of my brother’s accident. I wasn’t going to let him get out of the car, but he was curious and I want to be honest with him about what happened to Nathan. There is a cross there with flowers and stuffed animals, so I did my best to explain that this was the spot that Uncle Nathan got his boo-boo and where he went to heaven. I told him that we come here and leave flowers or presents so that Uncle Nathan can see them from heaven and know how much we love and miss him. I explained that Uncle Nathan can see us and that if he wanted, Nolan could say hi to Uncle Nathan. Nolan said “I’m feeling shy Mommy. I can’t see him.” I explained that we couldn’t see him, but he could see us. It was then that Nolan threw his head back and with a huge smile said “Hi Uncle Nathan! I’m Nolan!”

 For the rest of the day, Nolan talked about Uncle Nathan dying. He understandably had a ton of questions. How did he die? Why did he die? Why didn’t they stop the car when it went off the road? How did he get to heaven? Did he float up through the sky? I did my best to answer them in a way he could understand, but he brought me to my knees when he said “Mommy? Do you know what I want Uncle Nathan to do? I want him to leave heaven and come here so I can meet him.”

 It is in those moments that no mantra, no hug, no friend, nothing will make me feel better. A four-year old, in his sweet innocence, captured the one thing that I can’t have. The one thing that makes it impossible for me to let go of this pain.  The one thing that will always be. My brother will always be gone. I can “talk” to him all I want. I can pray,  I can write him letters, I can visit his cross. He is gone.

Some days I’m sure that I can’t handle one more minute of it. The finality of the situation overwhelms me and a life empty of one of my best friends stretches out before me and I want to give up. I am buoyed only by the love of my family and friends and my determination to be a good mom. I also owe it to my brother to make his life mean more than his death. Yes, I bear the pain of losing my brother. It is in me, it is who I am. But I also have the love and support of an amazing man and two incredibly sweet and loving children. They will always be the reason I don’t allow myself to drown in the pain of losing Nathan.  I guess some things do last forever.


6 Responses to “Nothing Lasts Forever”

  1. ltotheizzo March 25, 2011 at 2:52 am #

    This is such an incredibly touching post. It must have been difficult to write, but this is such a good lesson for us all to remember. In the last year I’ve had two people close to me die, and the only way I can cope with it is if I just keep trying to honor their lives on a daily basis. It seems like you’re already doing that for Nathan.

  2. Life of a Doctor's Wife March 25, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    You write so beautifully about love and grief – two things that DO have lasting power. I’m so sorry for your loss… So sorry that you have to carry it with you. But it warms my heart that you are able to pass on the love for your brother to your children, so that they can know him through you.

    Thinking of you… once again in awe of your strength.

  3. CathiC March 26, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    This is a beautiful, loving post. I’m so very sorry for your loss. I’m thinking of you and sending wishes for comfort and peace.

  4. JJ March 27, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Beautiful, touching post–Im very sorry for the loss you experienced. So sweet you were able to take Nolan there.

  5. hnr1227 March 28, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Five years already? Damn. Your strength and ability to talk about Nathan this way is utterly amazing. I love you, friend.
    ~ H

  6. Jenn April 16, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    This post was so incredible, and profound.
    I do not know if you have ever considered writing a book, but you should. Honestly. I have read so many books from published bloggers and half of them do not write nearly as well as you do. xoxo

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