Linguistic note: The name for this blog initially came about because I knew that I would, at some point, end up posting self-righteous rants that were not acceptable in polite liberal mainstream company. However, the Yiddish word “trayf,” for “not kosher,” also derives its meaning from the Hebrew word meaning “torn.” In this way, the name not only represents my stridently unapologetic politics, but also my emotional state.
To cope with Alex’s death, I have had to sequester the part of me that is in misery from the part of me that needs to get up every day, feed the cat, appreciate my partner, go to work, talk to people. This has given me a vague fear that, like the pop psychology tales I’ve heard of abused children, I will develop multiple personalities. It’s been over a week since I’ve really cried, and I fear that I am back in a state of shock and denial, and that the torn part of me that is functional is widening the gap with the real part of me that feels. Alex’s death is again something big and bottomless, a widening crevasse between my two personalities. I’m half inclined to force myself out over it, try to connect my functional and emotional states, make this real — but I’m afraid it will be so awful that I will be back to the point where even getting in the shower takes every ounce of willpower.
I’d never thought about Alex’s death, the way one might ponder an older relative’s death, because he was my little brother. But when I have thought about other people’s deaths, among the many factors of pain I’ve considered, it has never occurred to me that I just wouldn’t be able to believe it. It’s been over 2 months, and my dad and I confessed to each other this weekend that we’re both still half-waiting for this sick joke to end. Even when I look at his pictures, which I do often, I just hear him making sarcastic and loud commentary, and that just makes him seem more alive. He was so big and so loud, so opinionated and animated, it’s hard to see him in a picture without also hearing him.
I’m afraid to revisit the place I was in briefly a few weeks ago, where I could picture his death and his buried body, because they were miserable pictures that had no bearing on who my brother was or what he was going to leave behind. What they do have a bearing on, though, is the reality that he is no longer. I’m afraid that if I am ever to believe this, I will have to go there again. And I am afraid that will put me back to the point where I do not function, where even getting in and out of shower require epic acts of will.
I have no conclusion to this post, because I doubt there is a conclusion to my grief.