So, I think it's pretty obvious that I am getting overwhelmed. All the usual signs are there. First, we are in the home stretch with #AdamsActs, second, I have pulled out the buy one, get one blogs more than I wanted to, and finally, there's been a lot of uncontrolled weeping in my house. (Mostly from Tom.)
Seriously though, I can feel the weight of October (and everything it holds for me) just settle deep into my bones around this time every year. And it unhinges me. And every year, I scold myself, "Still?"
I still remember Joe walking into my house, basically still a kid himself, holding up my mom and my oldest sister, to tell Bethann and I that Adam was gone. Joe defintely got more than he bargained for when he decided to fall in love at first sight of my big sister Kristin. He didn't know that our family was about to change forever when they first started dating. On their comically awkward first date (in which Joe got his own arm stuck in the steering wheel while driving, and I'm pretty sure my sister also threw up at one point) he didn't know that our parents' divorce was only months away, and that Adam's death was waiting on deck. Or that the trial would begin shortly after, and a march on the courthouse to demand justice for Adam. He didn't know that he would be the rock of our family when he walked through that door to deliver the news that would change our lives, our family, our selves, forever.
I still remember watching a video of Adam at the funeral home, trying desperately to memorize every manerism, the sound of his voice, and what his hands looked like. And as much as I fought it, those memories have faded over time, yet the loss of him, has not.
I still remember dressing up as Adam on that last Halloween. It has always been heartbreaking and beautiful to me that on the night my brother was living his last moments as a 17 year old boy on this earth, I was also pretending to be that boy, wrestling singlet and all. I was dressed as my super hero for Halloween, but it just so happened that my hero was my big brother.
I still remember praying that God would let me talk to him in a dream. And still, certain songs, certain smells, certain weather... can crack my heart wide open to reveal a wound that still feels so fresh at times.
Yet there are a lot of other times when my pain is mostly the result of my little empath heart breaking for my parents. There is no pain more acute in my estimation that that of losing a child. There is no reality so harsh, or loss so severe as knowing that your child is gone, and you must continue to live.
So, yes. Still.
It is all still there. So many years later, because that is how love works. Just because one life ends, does not mean that all the love ends to. And when you have a boy so great, and so much love, really... something must be done with it. And so, as hard as it gets to continue blogging day in and day out, as exhausted as I feel from a month of feeling exposed, as much weeping as there is... it is out of a complete overflow of love that #AdamsActs was born.
And until I come face to face with my heavenly father and my earthly hero, I consider it a privilege to pour myself out each day. As long as I can say, "yeah, still." I will keep attempting to use this oportunity to show love and kindness to others.
Day 23 and 24 included a variety of kindnesses. I spent a lot of time in grocery stores so, three times over the past two days, I bought a Snickers for the cashier. This is one of my favorites, because the opportunity presents itself so conveniently and so regularly! Plus, cashiers are watching other people buy delicious foods all day. Can you imagine how hungry you'd get after a while? And for someone to say "Hey, Victor, you look like you could use a Snickers on your next break," has to be so gratifying.
Victor was a 17 year old boy too, which just sweetened the whole experience for me. I told him about my brother, Adam, who is forever 17, and how he can pay it forward someday when he sees someone else who stands on their feet for an entire shift. He seemed genuinely touched. Another lady came around the check out to give me a hug, and the third lady gave me a look like "I don't need your filthy Snickers bar." But, she turned her light off as soon as I paid and took her break immediately. Turns out, girlfriend does need my filthy Snickers.
I also filled all the grocery carts at Aldi with quarters and I helped a friend who has been having some excruciating back issues with her grocery shopping, a little laundry, and dinner. And I bought her sweet angel girl some slippers which she pretended to hate until I left. Mostly though, it was a kindness to me because we mostly just ate subs and talked about all the crying we were doing lately.
And for my final act of kindness, I contributed to a gofundme for a college student who is double majoring in African/African American Studies and Political Science and is raising money to study abroad in Ghana. Sidnee is a bright student and activist who will be partnering with me tomorrow night for another discussion on the race relations in our country.
After all the fails, and all the weeping, I'm feeling like mama got her kindness groove back a little bit. And as much as the last week feels like the emotional equivalent of walking through quick sand, I can say another set of "yes, still's" are true.
In a time where racial tensions seem to continually intensify, yes, still, I will speak up and try to make a difference. In a culture that overlooks others in the busyness of life, yes, still, I think that our world can change one Snickers at a time. I lost my big brother, and yes, still I have faith. Yes, still, I trust my God. Yes, still, I believe that He brings good things out of bad, life out of death. And I am willing to splay my grief journey before thousands of people because, yes, still, I believe that Jesus is in the business of turning my pain, and yours, into a beautiful, candy-bar-filled story of redemption.