Well, I don’t do this every night.  However, since I withdrew from school two plus weeks ago, a lot of my nights I do quite a bit of late-night grieving and connecting with other sibling suicide survivors (my apologies to family members who do not wish the nature of Mariahs’ death to be broadcast).  No specifics of death should ever be taboo, as it is merely the other side of life.   I decided , since this blog is still frequented by loved ones, that I would post a bit about my grieving process.  It is unique to my life experiences so far.  Here is what I just posted on the sibling suicide survivor site a few minutes ago:

I found myself in my own bedroom closet an hour ago. Tonight that is where I found more comfort than anywhere else in the last handful of weeks. I will try it again if I am blue tomorrow. The first thought that came to mind while i curled up in there was the memory of my first night staying by my sister’s bedside at the hospital. It took me two weeks after her stroke to make it there (I am a working musician and I struggled to afford the ticket to travel to her) The first night I curled up in a ball on the chair next to her hospital bed and slept there… I just wanted to be near her. The next several visits I spent a lot of time moving her about transferring her from bed to wheelchair and tilting her back in the sun outside and playing guitar and singing to her. She couldn’t speak or swallow or move except for toes, so we had “yes” and “no” written on her socks. I would ask if she wanted me to keep singing, or if she wanted to be in the shade, etc…
Mariah I miss you soo much!!! I need my sidekick. I need my big sister. I need a hero again. I am so discouraged and lonely without you! I am so mad at God for letting you take your life. I needed you so much. I would have taken care of you forever. You only needed a little help at the end of it all. You were getting so well again. I need help letting go of you every day. Every night. I miss your encouragement and your faith in me. I miss your laughter. Your friend, Eric, wrote to tell me he wanted to name a daughter after you one day. ….Not if I beat him to it first! This sucks, I am hurting unbearably without you. Only God understands. I know that I don’t. Sometimes I am too angry with Him to even want to spend time with Him. Its been 3 and a half months since you left. It hurts like yesterday. Bless you, my angel.

Part of my grieving process is based upon my personal belief that no feeling I have is unhealthy or wrong or suspect.  No feeling or mood necessitates therapy or scrutiny or “fixing” any more or less than another.  Easier said than done, however.  Anger, anxiety, and insecurity are some of the most difficult emotions for me to deal with.  I have beaten the sapling tree in my backyard to death, spent countless baths screaming under water in the middle of the night, sobbed through the pain on my floor, in the arms of friends, or in the supermarket while purchasing a few items to accomplish my daily goal of eating three meals, and I have laughed and loved and been loved deeply through and between all of it.  Also, envy confounds me.  Some would call me crazy to say it, but suicide has many times been a logical “option” to me.  I am a recovering drug addict, and insane thinking is one of the most obvious characteristics of the addict mind.  I can’t help it.  It is out of my control.  I can go from serene to suicidal myself in a matter of minutes.  This is why I make life choices that go against the grain.  This is why I perform for a living.  It is why I just left school to take care of my insides.  It is why I need encouragement, help, and positive people.  It is why I have not spent one day in over two years without spending time consciously with the God whom I serve.  It is why my spiritual life is everything and the material: school, relationships, finances, achievements, MUST take a backseat.  All things come and go, so more can always be had.  Time is the only thing already measured and slipping away one day at a time.  Mariah’s days were measured before her birth, as are my own.  I have been cheated by addiction, disease, and wrong perceptions afforded me by misinformed people so many times now that the only place for me to truly live is with my heart in Gods hands and my eyes on Gods wisdom.

I am very joyful to say tonight, after another one of the particularly difficult evenings, that I am very grateful to have been endowed over time with the courage to stand and face the wind.  I am grateful for the hope in tomorrow, the pain that spiritual growth necessitates, and the friends I have who have been with me through the storms.  May 3rd I will celebrate, sadly without Mariah, my Fourth Year Clean and Recovering from the horrors of life in active addiction.  This year it is in honor of one of my biggest heros and greatest inspirations:  my big sister and best friend, Captain K

So it’s April 1st once again and time to celebrate the occasion of your birth and the rich tapestry that is your life.

Near the Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy (May, 2007)

As today approached, I thought about ways to  honor you. Maybe a big bouquet of beautiful spring flowers for the kitchen table. Certainly a call to Clay, and maybe to Grandma.

I planned to go to work today and pretty much stick to my routine. With the exception of spending some time walking in the Boston Common and the Garden, where I would have come upon the statue of George Washington astride his horse. That’s where you were sworn in to the Army as a lieutenant on May 12, 2003. It was a warm spring evening, and we celebrated at a great Italian restaurant on Charles Street afterward.

(The Big Apple Circus is back in town. Remember when we went together about this time in 2008, just before you went to Peru? On the same visit, you and I and Diana went to a Sox game at Fenway. The Yankees are coming for the season opener this Sunday. I know you’re not a baseball fan, but we all had fun together, and you did enjoy a big fat sausage with grilled onions and peppers. Maybe I should get some tickets. And a napkin.)

By last night, though, I was having second thoughts about my plan. Especially after a chat with Clay. He had (brilliantly) asked his group of surviving brothers and sisters what they did on their sib’s first birthday after death, and their responses inspired me to reach a little higher than “business as usual”.

About 2:00 am I awoke from some powerful dreams, thought about you for a couple of hours (mostly happy and wistful stuff, but some real regrets, too), and went downstairs for a workout. That usually helps me think more clearly, and that’s when I realized I needed to start the day not responding to email but rather to your gentle spirit.

We spoke and I cried while grinding out crunches. I sang to you, and you urged me to not be so worried about my back as I prepared for push ups. (My goal has been 50 since I watched you do that at one of your martial arts graduations, but 40 is the best I’ve managed in all the years since.)

I wish there had been more time to get to know you better, Mariah. That scarcity is chalked up to nature. And I wish I’d used the time I did have to get to know you better. For that, I am responsible. If only I had learned how to text sooner. 🙂

Normally, I’d be thinking about what to give you on your special day. This year I’m thinking about what you’ve given me. An appreciation for sincere humility, dignity, grace, and generosity. A reminder of the importance of action when the time is ripe and of patience when it is not. Awareness deep in my soul of how amazing, mysterious, and lovely are the great events of birth and death and all that comes before and after. And awe and gratitude for each moment of life and light and love that lies between.

Happy Birthday, Mariah. You are truly a miracle. I love you to pieces.

– Dad

P.S. Here’s part of a note I received last night from your step-sister, Nicole. It was hand-written on beautiful paper.

Dear Mark,

This is a piece of stationery that Mariah created and gave to me in a set for Christmas many years ago. The set also included bookmarks and small note paper. I’m so glad I still have some left; now I have a bit of connection to the adolescent Mariah (I think she was probably about 12 when she made this.).

She was always so inventive, with a special way of blending creativity and practicality. She used her talents to come up with things that were imaginative and beautiful, and often with a useful purpose as well.

I will never forget watching her walk away from the last time Sarah and I saw her before her trip to Peru. She was wearing a summer dress and the warm afternoon sunlight was shining on her as she walked to her car with a bold, direct, confident bounce in her step.

She did so many amazing things with her life, including her feats in recovery. I feel lucky to have been a part of her family and to have watched her grow up from a little girl into such a proud, accomplished, intelligent and creative woman.

Love, Coli

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY DUDE,  from CLAY

I went to the local shopping mart and got three pink balloons with helium today. One popped, which was ok, cuz I was left with two by the time I biked down to the river with a note attached to the balloons. I said my prayer, cried my tears, and let the balloons go and lay in the grass watching until they turned into one balloon… and then it looked like a star way up there… and then I couldn’t see anything but sky.  I want to extend my gratitude to the other sibling survivors who graciously lent their suggestions and experiences with honoring their lost brothers and sisters.  This suggestion of balloons and a note was simple and meaningful, which suits Mariah.  I spent the rest of the afternoon walking my dog, Sky, by the river and blowing bubbles. The spring is bittersweet indeed. God bless the survivors.   Happy Birthday my beloved Bunny.  I struggle everyday to let you go.

Love and Light,

Clay