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I keep trying to make meaning with words on this day, but they aren’t coming out properly yet. One year ago today, my family and I buried my mom in Tennessee, on the same hill as her father and family. It was a year ago date-wise, but day-of-the-week-wise, which is how I recall it all–because the days helped me know what reality was–the burial was on a Monday, and Tuesday morning we ate breakfast together and went our separate ways, hugging and laughing. That night, we got the call that my brother and sister-in-law, Krissy, on their way home to Arkansas, were in a terrible accident on I40, that we had lost Krissy and that my brother was barely alive in the ER in Little Rock, one week after mom died.

We were near Kansas City and rerouted the next morning. That night was spent in a daze in a hotel room, watching my children sleep, and we left the next morning for Little Rock. So many of you made it possible for us to be there for Justin as he miraculously recovered. Thank you so much for your help, love, and support in that time. Those words are a paltry reflection of the depth of my heart.

The grief of last week’s anniversaries came to a head today, oddly enough. I have been alternately sad, angry, weeping, numb, at peace, grateful, and so tired. Chinese medicine associates lung trouble with grief, a friend reminded me tonight as I lamented being sick with a chest cold that latched on this weekend. Some days, it is hard to see meaning in any of this, though I know it’s there. Sometimes, people just die. (As I type that, another wave of angry sadness rolls through.)

The most essential meaning is thankfulness for my family and friends, sad for the loss but grateful my baby brother lived. In a cliche I finally fully understand, I don’t know where this year has gone; it feels utterly like yesterday, or last month. Thank you for being with me and us and for your love. Someday soon, I’ll find better words. Love and hugs to you.

p.s. That photo up there is condensation on the window of the Mexican restaurant in a tiny Tennessee town where our family had dinner on the night of Mom’s burial. I don’t recall if Krissy or I first noticed the heart, but she said, “You should spiral spiral that, Jene’,” (referring to my Instagram account). The following morning at breakfast, our last conversation ever was on how my photography was good enough to feature and pursue, and she–a designer–gave me tips and tricks she had learned. I hugged her the last time around 9 a.m. The accident was at about noon. She was always kind to me, supportive of my writing/art, and infectiously enthusiastic. I wish I had years to know her better. Hearts grow and strengthen.

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