Sunday, 20 September 2009

Remembering Jonathan - Hoc Quoque Transibit

Sunday, 20 September 2009
As soon as I reach for the thermostat and jolt the radiators into life after their summer of rest, I know that Autumn is on its way and with it comes an unwelcome reminder of a time of year I would rather not remember at all, much less commemorate. Tomorrow marks 13 years since we lost my baby brother, Jonathan Corking. And in less than two weeks time (4th October) it will be what would have been his 31st birthday.

July 1996 - the only picture in which 
I can see our family resemblance.

We all acknowledge these anniversaries in different ways – across oceans and over the years. My parents feel it keenly; rattling around in that big old house, the emptiness of the rooms a cruel reminder of the absence of their son. Me? I’m different year on year. Some years Jonathan’s Anniversary has passed and I have barely noticed it amidst the chaos of formula milk and pooey nappies and ironing school uniforms and the minutiae of Mammy-ing. Some years I can tell Jason stories about him, recall fond memories with a smile, have a drink for him and keep it together. Some years I’m paralysed by my grief, crippled and bedridden with it, sentencing myself to a bitter purgatory of clockwatching – “What was I doing this time on that day? Where was he? What was he thinking? What was he feeling? What could I have done differently?” So it will always be.

hHead... remember them?  Supporting the Candian music scene... right on, kiddo.

But mine is a quiet and private mourning, for the most part. I have learned enough over the years that it is preferable for me to keep it to myself, as a preservation technique so as not to upset my Mum and Dad, really. People in grief are like pillars of a temple – you can’t adjust your position to lean on another lest the whole structure wobble and crumble. At least that’s how it works in our family. Don’t get me wrong ... that is not to say that we don’t stand close and frequently remember together what he was like, and how much we miss him. Because we SO do. The daily rigours of missing him is like a blurring of your peripheral vision; your view of the world is permanently altered and mocks you every time you open your eyes with a painful reminder of things not being quite as they should be.

But then I think – is it as it should be? Was Jonathan’s mortal coil predestined to be years and years shorter than the rest of ours? Did he shuffle off it before his time, or was he in our lives for exactly the amount of time he ever was supposed to be and not a second longer? If I’m honest, I take comfort in the latter. Because as much as I would have him back in a heartbeat, I can’t find any peace in imagining what his life would have been like if he hadn’t ended it when he did. Maybe he would have got better? Or worse. It really doesn’t bear thinking about.

So today, as I type this, I am sad. Tomorrow, I might be worse, I might not. But the shape of my sorrow, 13 years later looms aching with regret and disappointment as opposed to the sharp heartache of when our loss was fresh. I regret that he never met my husband. I grieve for the fact that my sons will never know their uncle. Ben isn’t even 5 yet – all he knows is that Uncle Jonathan has gone to be an angel, but beyond that we have never discussed him, save for passing references about how much Jonjo would have doted on his nephews. And dote he would: he’d have been their rough-and-tumble tag team wrestling partner, he’d have built the best Lego rockets and towers, he’d have taught them to play guitar, showed them how to skip stones on still water and make words rhyme. I’m sad that the only presence he has in their lives will be pictures in frames. Of course, there then follows the myriad of questions about the direction my life’s path took after Jonathan died – would I have met Jason, and consequently had my two beautiful boys, had Jonathan not gone when he did? Who knows.

"Hoc quoque transibit” – roughly translated from Latin; “this too shall pass.” Something I would have never believed in 1996, 1997, 1998 or 1999 when I was attempting to scramble my way upwards out of a dark well of grief and depression following Jonathan’s death. But it’s true – and to kill a cliché – Time Heals All Wounds. True, but it has taken its time scabbing them over and there are bruises and scars left as souvenirs of remembrance.

Part of Jonathan's ashes are here in England, in my grandparents' grave in Castleford.

Miss you, little brother. Love always.

5 people had something to say about this...:

Shannon's Open Book said...

I think he would be honored to know how much his sister and family loved him through better or worse. I think your doing such a wonderful job of preserving his memory and Im thinking and praying for you and your family.

Lynn said...

A lovely post, Nic. I'll be thinking of you and Jonathan today.

Tanya said...

Thinking of you Niccy and remembering...

Beautiful words, eloquent,poignant, heartbreaking and thought provoking. I am glad I knew you then and SO glad I still know you now. Love you very much, T

Fame Throwa said...

Lots of love to you and your family. You'll be in my thoughts (and a few tears) all day.

Big hugs.

Lis said...

You have been given the gift of the written word and I appreciate the depth of your love and grief and the analogy of the pillars is one that I may have to use in supporting those that grieve. You are a smart insightful person and I am so glad to know you, thank you for sharing.
Thinking of you today.