Three.

It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind the window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer... and everything collapses.

Thinking of Connor as I explore Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic Games. Top left: the Christ Redeemer statue watching over the city.

Three.

A few days ago I landed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Watching the Olympics and being immersed into such a rich and deep culture has been nothing short of amazing. I have had the opportunity to watch many beach and indoor volleyball games with field hockey and athletics coming up soon. Up the Sugarloaf Mountain to take in all the sights of what Rio has to offer. I can see the Christ Redeemer from my balcony. Acai smoothies can be found everywhere. I am the happiest camper and nothing can bring me down. 

Oh wait. What day is it today? I had to catch my breath last night going to sleep, knowing that when I open my eyes tomorrow, it will be three years since Connor passed away. No, please don’t let tomorrow come. Now that it has… what now? Don’t think about it, numb it out, distract yourself, think about him, don’t think about him, ask for help, keep it inside, go exploring, stay in bed. A never ending ferris wheel of emotions. Round and round and round and round you go. 

No. It’s not easier. I thought that saying “time heels everything” would actually mean something in this situation. Maybe time equals 20 years. Half a life time. A full life time. I guess so.. because time is not making anything easier. In fact, the minutes, days, weeks, and years are passing where I haven’t seen Connor. I want to scream, bang my fists against the wall, stop time completely. No. I don’t want to go through what life has to offer without him by my side. No. It’s not easier. 

It shows how powerful grief actually is. Surrounded by the most intense stimulant, the Olympic Games, and yet my mind is always wondering to Connor. “Wouldn’t Con LOVE to see this… He would be BLOWN AWAY by this venue… my brother would be right in there celebrating with the locals…” All of these world-class athletes around me, I can’t help think, or know, that you would have made it too. I brag about you and Stuart all the time; unbelievable athletes that could pick up any sport and within months, be the best. I know one thing is for sure: you would have been one of the best golfers in the world. That’s certain. 

Grief is hard. And it’s not specifically linked to just this one day. It’s everyday. Every damn day. It doesn’t matter that 1095 days have passed, I still think about you all the time. Every damn day. I still wish you were here. Every damn day. And it's not getting any easier.

One article I read today had some specific parts to it that explained things perfectly:

If you were still alive, I wouldn’t have to push the happy memories away, because they’re too painful to replay in my head. I’d just think of them and smile, and then pick up the phone to give you a call.

If you were still alive, I’d have one more person to introduce my boyfriend to. One more person to embarrass me with awkward stories about my childhood. One more person to welcome him into our crazy family.

If you were still alive, there would be one (or two) less tattoos adorning my body. One less date that made me burst into tears every single year. Your birthday would be the only date that reminded me of you, and we’d have a hell of a good time celebrating.

If you were still alive, I wouldn’t have to talk to you through prayers or through my dreams (PS you’re due for a visit, Connor Richey!!). I could send you a text or write you a letter or just show up on your front step in the middle of the night, and you’d be happy to listen to me.

If you were still alive, I wouldn’t have pushed certain people away. There wouldn’t have been a situation that I disappointed them in - an event I just couldn’t make myself go to. And maybe I wouldn’t be so terrified of losing someone again, someone I care about as much as you.

But if you were still alive, I might not have realized that the whole “live each day like it’s your last” mindset is legit. That I need to treasure every moment while I still can and tell my family, friends, boyfriend, that I love them as much as possible.

As much as I miss you, I’m so thankful for what you taught me while you were here, and what you’re continuing to teach me now that you’re gone.

No. It’s not easier. It’s been one hell of a ride and it continues to be. It’s incredibly daunting thinking that for the rest of my life, this week will be the toughest of them all. For the rest of my life, I will be reduced to tears in a single, heart-stopping instance without anything or anyone to warn me. Those little things that remind me so much of you - the strongest reminders that you are still gone. 

A nightmare come true. One we have to live with each and every single day. And most days, that task seems impossible and I won’t be able to do it. I don’t want to bring new people into my life that have to deal with the crazy thing that is my brain. That roller coaster of emotions that I can’t keep level in certain situations. I am a ticking time bomb without knowing how to fix it. Talking through life, pain, grief, with my counsellor this summer - anxiety? It’s never been an issue. But that has come on like a wave crashing down on me and that exact feeling of “I can’t breathe - I’m drowning - swim, Kyla, swim” takes over your body and brain and won’t let you out. 

Hold on. Take a breath. Hands folded together. Head bowed. Pray. Connor I miss you. 

No. It’s not getting easier. I want my little brother back and I want him back for good. 

A life-long game. And I haven’t even begun to learn how to play. 

So as I sit in this wonderful apartment in Rio, my mind is constantly drifting to you. My soul and my heart know that it’s this day faster than my brain does. My heart is constantly reminding me that on this day, three years ago, I was sitting in a chair, holding your hand in the hospital room. Like the older protective sister, not leaving that side of your bed as wave after wave of friends and family came to hang out with you. Came to say goodbye. I never wanted to leave your side. I never wanted to stop holding your hand. Why couldn’t time stand still for us.

We miss you terribly, little brother.

Come visit soon.  

Grief. It never ends... But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith... It is the price of love.
— Unknown