It wasn't our typical trip up north. Where we hit all my favorite spots and eat all my favorite hot dish menu items. We didn't stay up late playing cards or do much playing in the snow. This wasn't the fun trip home that we had planned for a month ago, back before Aaron went into hospice.
We knew the end was coming. In fact, the urgency of the last minute holiday trip came after a text from my sister in law.
"I wouldn't put off seeing your brother."
So I didn't.
We bought tickets knowing that this very well may be the last holiday I got to spend with him. That we all got to spend together.
But that wasn't in the cards.
I'm thankful, God, am I thankful, that I was able to fly up alone a week before this trip to see him, because when we landed last Tuesday night and my Aunt was there to pick us up instead of my Mom, I knew.
He was gone.
I didn't cry. Come to think of it, I still haven't cried much at all. Losing your hero, your brother, the only one that gets your crazy right down to the start of it, well, I think that takes a while to set in.
We spent the week with family, remembering Aaron. We were able to extend our tickets a few days longer than planned so that we could go to his service, which was an epic event where every detail was planned by my brother and I could feel him all around me the entire night.
As I watched Aaron's obituary literally take over the internet, from local news stations to NPR to Time, I finally felt the weight of losing him. As his words spread from coast to coast and friends sent me link after link to different articles on him, I had the first, deep pangs of what missing him will feel like.
Each text, each email, yelled out at me, "he's really gone."
And I'm glad everyone in the universe got a glimpse of how funny and amazing Aaron was, but it felt vastly insufficient. He was everything to our family and now he's not here and man does that hurt. Most of the tragedy in my life has been self inflicted. This kind is so much worse.
Writing is how I process.
I usually don't know how I feel until I see it written out.
But so much has happened in the last 20 days that I can't seem to find my words. There's just so much to unravel and sort through.
So I'm choosing to let it happen whenever my subconscious is ready. Organically, naturally. Because I can't force myself through this deep sadness. It may be quiet around here for a while. Or it may get really loud. I'm not quite sure yet.
What I do know is I am beyond thankful for the love and support.
For the random texts and emails and all the Still Kickin shirts I've seen floating around the internet. For Kelsey flying 1200 miles to stand by me and help with anything I asked for without asking my permission. You're right, I would've said no, but I needed you there. A friendly face that I didn't need to say a single word to was a blessing I'll never be able to pay back. But I'll try because what you did is what Aaron would have done and man do I want to be like Aaron.
You all loved me well and I felt it.
This trip wasn't our usual, but it was good.
And after all this I think Aaron was right. I think we are all going to be OK.