Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Blog Post I've Been Avoiding

As the title of this post says, this is something I have put off writing for a while now. I haven't posted on my blog in a little over two months. I've been posting a little more lately on Facebook and on Instagram but certainly not up to my normal online interaction in regards to sewing and all things vintage. But I'm getting there, slowly.
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As some of you may already know, my brother Christoper passed away very unexpectedly in August. He was 30 years old. We are all still trying to process this and our hearts are shattered. I'm so thankful there is a loving network of friends and family who have all been amazing and I know you will all continue to be. Thank you to everyone who has offered your love and support during this difficult time. I never thought I would say, thank God for Facebook, but it's true. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and even complete strangers online has been truly amazing and humbling. The reenacting community especially has been wonderful and supportive. Our family has received messages from reenactors who personally knew, or knew of, my brother from all across the U.S., Canada, the UK and even Belgium. It just proves what a small world we live in.

This is a post I've had to write by starting and stopping several times over the last three months. Often I'd just sit here starting at the blank page. I really didn't know where to start but felt it was important to say something. How do you sum up the life of a loved one in a single blog post? The truth is, you can't. It's cannot be done in a blog post or multiple posts to social media. It cannot be done in a collection of photographs, though these things can come close. (We created a slide show of photos and music for Chris's memorial service and it was over 30 minutes long! With plenty more to add.)

Grief is a difficult thing to go through for everyone, and it's been a real struggle for those of us that were closest with my brother. I posted briefly about the passing of a close friend this spring and was still struggling with his loss when I heard about my brother. We must all find our own way to deal with and process grief. And it's going to be a different journey for each of us.

Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free as well as pure. This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal. 
- William Penn, Fruits of Solitude

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Chris was many things to many people; son, brother, husband and friend. Everything was falling into place for him and life was going so well for him and his wife. They celebrated their 6th wedding anniversary in June. Chris was an incredibly talented person, always looking to learn new skills and apply them to the things he enjoyed most in life. He had settled on creating a career involving horses and had set out on the path to makes those dreams come true. He and one of our sister's planned to take over the family farm and share those dreams together. There are now, and will always be, horses on the farm but it won't seem the same without my brother. Sometimes I just pretend he's off on some great adventure, which in a way I guess he is. This whole post seems inadequate but as I said, I felt I needed to write something.

I cannot say, and I will not say 
That he is dead. He is just away.
With a cherry smile, and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land 

And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
And you – oh, you, who the wildest yearn 
For an old-time step, and the glad return,
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here.
Think of him still as the same. I say,
He is not dead – he is just away.
James Whitcomb Riley

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My brother loved history and living history was a passion we both shared. To honor his memory, friends and family members have made donations to The Fort at No. 4 in Charlestown, NH, an open air living history museum where we both spent a great deal time. Through volunteering and reenacting at The Fort at No. 4, Chris worked to help ensure the museum's long history as a site for educational and living history programs. As a way to honor him, donations to this site in Chris' name will be used to repair and maintain the museum to ensure the continuation of Chris' passion at a place very dear to him.

The holidays this year are going to suck. There's no other way to say it, but somehow I know we will all manage and find the strength to laugh and smile. We will create new traditions in Chris's honor, tell rude jokes and funny stories to keep his memory and energy alive. Even though it may be hard at times, these are things we need to do. And I've learned through all of this just how important friends and family really are. I have also learned that grief is a process. There are many stages and there are going to be many crummy days before things begin to seem brighter on a more regular basis. There will be good days again but for now it's perfectly fine to just have OK days.

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I am planning to post with more regularity on this blog over the winter and to continue doing and sharing the things I love. I know Chris would want all of us to continue doing what we enjoy. It's all part of moving through the tunnel of grief. I have several posts waiting in my draft folder and many exciting things to share. But if I disappear for days or weeks on end, don't worry, I will come back. Sometimes it's important to take time for yourself.
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