I couldn’t let today go unmarked.

Six months ago today my little brother went to the hospital. Six months ago right now, one of us was reading bedtime stories to Zoey. But tonight, I am not on pins and needles, electrified under my skin, every muscle tensed, dreading the ring of the phone — or, infinitely worse, the doorbell. The phone rang once that night, and I don’t remember what the reason for the call was, or who it was. I believe it was a cousin. It wasn’t earth-shaking news; it was some sort of status update, before we went to bed.

It was surreal, putting an oblivious toddler to bed, the same routine as every other night. (Thank God for this child — and for the need to maintain our routines, for her sake. Without her, there would have been no stability, nothing to anchor the days in the beginning. She has kept life from becoming totally haphazard.) Then getting myself ready for bed and actually trying to go to sleep like any normal person does at bedtime. I did not sleep well. I didn’t realize it was possible to stay tensed up for the phone to ring, even in my sleep. As it turns out, this is entirely possible. There was one dream, and in this dream the doorbell rang, and I knew that meant he had died. I don’t recall the rest of the dream — just that God-awful sinking dark feeling when I heard the doorbell.

I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t finally leave during the night, that I never had to hear the phone or the doorbell. But gratitude is not on my list tonight — and I make no apologies.

All day today, I’ve felt like someone else. Hating my job. Hating my body, my hair, my skin. Hating my ridiculously over-analytical mind, for its inability to just feel what it feels without having to ask permission, examine motives and imagine everyone else’s reaction. Hating the few people who always seem to make me feel defensive, and hating myself for always getting so freaking defensive and alienating people. Hating the tears that have hovered just inside the rims of my eyes from the time I arrived at work until now. Hating the medication that dulls my emotions — when I make myself take it — and hating the mood swings and hopelessness that come when I go too many days without taking it.

The doctor wanted me to stay on this medication for at least six months. The early, tough part of grief. It’s been six months, and I have no idea when, or if, I will be able to survive without it.

It’s 9:20 and it’s my turn to go rock a wide-awake child. I just want today, and tomorrow, to be over. I hope tomorrow is better. I hope I don’t feel so disconnected from myself tomorrow. I hope I’m not so tired and angry and sad and flattened. Most of all I hope I have the patience to tolerate everyone around me. Because so help me, sometimes I come within inches of verbally picking certain people to tiny bite-sized pieces, and I’d prefer not to have that on my plate in addition to the rest of this sh*t.

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