I'm struggling a little bit in getting back to regular blogging. There's a post I need to write to break through the block, and it's a tough one. I fell away from blogging late last year in part because of an incredibly heavy work load but also because of an unexpected tragedy that hit my family. It made me reexamine my life's priorities, and blogging wasn't at the top of the list.
A little backstory: Joey & Kim introduced Jamie & me to a store called Buc-ee's when we were in Daytona Beach last year. It's a chain of gas station/country store/hot food/clean restrooms/great gifts stores. There's one located on I-75 about 30 minutes south of Macon, and Joey & Kim always stopped there on the way to Florida Gator football games. We started stopping there as well if ever we passed that way, and it became a thing to text photos back & forth any time we were there. "Hey, guess where we are!" That kind of thing.
On October 14, 2021, I was returning home from a week long work trip in South Georgia. It had been an extremely busy week, I had worked long hours by myself, I was exhausted, and it was a 3 hour drive home. Buc-ee's outside Macon was about the halfway point, and I was happy happy happy to stop. With thoughts of barbecue sandwiches & cinnamon rolls & new collar tags for the pups, I took this selfie outside the store and texted it to Joey & Kim with the message, "Better than a Love's truck stop..."
Hot, exhausted, but happy to be at Buc-ee's and happy to be on my way home after such a grueling week. Happy, I was happy. Unbeknownst to me, at the time I snapped & sent those photos, my nephew-my oldest brother's son--had two minutes to live. I wouldn't get the news until the following morning.
It was suicide. Brandon killed himself. Broke my brother's heart. And this is where I struggle to attach words to my thoughts & feelings. I had no clue what was going on in his life and what brought him to such a desperate place. We lived in different states, and our connection the last few years was via the internet. In that two minutes above, what I wouldn't give to have been able to reach out and grab Brandon and hug him and hold him close and tell him it's gonna be alright, just don't go.
One of the hardest things in all of this has been seeing my big brother so broken and feeling so helpless & inadequate in comforting him. And though I'd like to grab him and hug him and hold him close and tell him it's gonna be alright, we live in different states, and my efforts at comforting have to be through phone calls & texts. I haven't seen him since Brandon's funeral, and I really need to do something about that. I want stronger, real life contact & connection with the people I love. That's on me.
I've thought a lot about the timing of the above selfie. Brandon was the farthest thing from my mind in that moment and had nothing to do with anything going on in my life at the time. But he's all I think about now when I look at the photo.