Next week is Brad’s birthday.
Like last year, our family will be spending the week together to honor and celebrate both Brad and his twin, Dave. For one beautiful chaotic week, we get to live in each other’s noise and space and emotions. For one week, we gather from all across the country and get to be in each other’s presence.
I love it.
And I hate it.
Because for one week, our family is together and during that one week, Brad’s absence is more noticeable than ever.
It feels like the ultimate injustice to gather with the rest of the Frost Pack - with his mom and his twin and his sister and his best friend and all his closest people - without Brad. His absence is glaring. The silence is deafening.
I hate to admit it, but somehow in my daily life I am learning how to survive in the silence of Brad’s absence. I don’t have another choice. But the silence of his absence among the noise of the family? I’m not sure I’ll ever fully adjust to that.
So I anticipate next week with both joy and sadness.
It’s a strange and conflicting emotion to simultaneously feel both eagerness and dread. To go into next week excited to celebrate with those I love. Full of gratitude about the relationships I have with Brad's people who very quickly became my people. Full of joy over the time we will get together - time that is far too limited. So full of love.
And I also go into next week with an extreme heaviness and heartache about making it to another milestone without Brad. Another year, full of changes that he didn't get to witness. Another week of memories he won’t be apart of and photographs he won’t be in. A week of watching our nieces and nephews explore together, seeing how much they’ve grown since last year. Welcoming two new little ones that Brad will never know. A week of watching sunsets on the beach without an arm around my waist and sitting by a fire without toes touching in the sand. A week of late night conversations and deep connections. A week of mischievous debauchery and endless stories, explosive laughter and lingering tears. A week of experiences that Brad won't be a part of.
We will be living it up in the present as we reflect on the past and Brad will be present only in those reflections.
And that breaks my heart.
So much of the week will bring me joy. And with that joy comes the sorrow of experiencing it alone, without Brad there to go through it with me.
I go into next week with so many emotions. Anticipation, excitement, expectations, heartbreak, loneliness.
I focus on the feelings of joy so I don’t have to focus on the feelings of pain. But I’ve been here enough times to know the pain can’t be ignored for long. I've been here enough times to know, the greater the joy, the greater the pain. And by now I know, it all demands to be felt.
So moving forward into next week, I am feeling it all. And I look forward to sitting in it - the joy and the pain and the laughter and the tears - together.