I’ve written about it before, but July has kind of a stigma for me. For the past decade-ish if negative things are going to happen to or around me, they happen in July. It has caused me to go into metaphorical ostrich mode and just try to power through July until August 1 hits.
Last year on July 25 - well it was a really awful evening. I don’t like to think about it actually. But flash forward a year, and I actually had a really great day today. I received some great feedback that I didn’t expect and I was simply shocked by it.
July still isn’t done, but what a difference a year makes.
I sat down at the table. The mood was palpable, heavy. One of those moods that felt like could be dug at with a spoon. I didn’t know why it was like that. I didn’t know why I’d been called downstairs.
My parents seemed still and stiff. They were staring at me too hard.
I looked to my older brother, sitting across the table from me. Misery radiated from him. It was a strange shift from earlier - he’d sat at dinner like he didn’t have a care in the world. I felt like this was a big moment, one that would stand out - but I didn’t know why.
That’s when I noticed his hand. His left hand. The ring finger was encircled with something that hadn’t been there earlier - a plain gold band. An unoffensive ring that was offensive in it’s presence. A ring that changed everything.
Everything felt like it was starting to crack underneath me. I had been pushed. I was falling and I couldn’t stop.
He began to speak, but his lips didn’t seem to match the words I was hearing. He said he got married, that he’d been married for two weeks. He told me I was an aunt. He told me I had a sister. He told me I was his best friend.
I told him to stop talking.
I asked him why he didn’t tell his best friend he was dating someone. I asked him why he didn’t tell his best friend he got married.
He told me he kept secrets because he loved me.
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that some wounds never heal. They scar over. Just like if a limb were severed, they have phantom pains.
The pains are unpredictable. I never know when they are coming. But when they do they remind me of the pain I first felt.
Pain is like that. Even when the feeling is gone from the body, it stays in the memory.
July 27 - A Year Later
A lot can happen in a year. The last year of my life proves that. Today is the marker of the end of a year I never expected, a year I never wanted. But they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I think I finally understand that. God has definitely made me stronger in the last year.
I’ve suffered from great pain and a terrible loss in the past 365 days, but I’ve also started on the path to becoming someone that I really love being. I cannot say enough how wonderful it’s been to realize how much my friends love me, an unconditional kind of love, and how much I finally feel like an artist. The people that supported, nurtured and just loved me since last July know who they are and I cannot live my life without them. The people in your life, the people that make you you are invaluable.
I don’t know how God is going to get me where I’m going, or exactly what is ahead, but I am excited. I am excited to continue discovering my voice as an artist and I am waiting for my new season to come.
I wait for the day that I can celebrate something that happens on July 27 instead of dreading it’s arrival. I know that day will come.
It’s the end of June, the start of summer and as I’m waiting for southern California’s summer to actually begin a lot of things have struck me. I know that the year technically began almost 180 days ago, but in many ways July will mark the end of a rather tumultuous year for me. A year in which many changes that I could have never foreseen took place.
Let me start by saying this: July and I have baggage.
When I was a kid July automatically got bonus points because it was smack in the middle of summer vacation. When I became an adult and discovered the glories of Comic-Con July won more points because it took me to San Diego and my own version of Nirvana. July even had Independence Day – which I loved because of fireworks and the movie marathons I always had on that day as a child. But starting in 2005 July began to sour.
On July 2, 2005 my older brother called me and long story short by the next day he was in the hospital having undergone emergency surgery. I watched the fireworks that year from a chair beside his bed in the hospital. He nearly died. I worshiped my older brother and seeing him in suffer was very hard to take – but not as hard as being the one to uncover his addiction. It took awhile and a lot of work on my part but our relationship recovered, changed and moved forward. He healed and I attempted to heal too.
I thought 2005 had done its worst but I was wrong – July 2006 had two of the hardest weeks of my life. This time my younger brother nearly died. He was admitted to the hospital the same day my older brother had been the year before and he stayed for 2 weeks with a staph infection of the blood which turned into toxic shock and only through the grace of God did he manage to survive. For two weeks I spent every hour of my day that wasn’t sleeping or at work at his bed side, holding his hand before tests, keeping him company when my parents needed rest and doing everything in my power not to break down as I watched him ask to die because he was in so much pain. He eventually did recover, as much as his body will let him and today is a wonderful, stronger person for it.
Other things have happened in July since then and July has never been the same – it’s approached each year and I’ve watched the July 4th week and the entire month with dread, waiting to see if something terrible will happen again. I went to every Comic-Con between 2006 & now, trying to redeem July and honestly, it was getting better. I was no longer afraid that someone I loved was going to die.
Then came 2010. As we approached July my older brother, my best friend, was suffering from some terrible health problems without any diagnosis reached. July stretched on and you could see him in pain all the time. We went to Comic-Con on vacation together for a week and I tried to help him as much as I could but he seemed distant, upset and as unwilling to share what was going on with him as always. I was cutting him slack because I knew his health had to be getting to him, he was still my big brother and I loved him very much and was willing to believe that with time he’d start to open up again and let me, let our family in and let us help him. I was so willing to believe this that I never saw the next blow coming. I had no chance to prepare.
We came home from vacation and on July 27th my world changed. My last ideal of who my older brother was to me died and I’m still recovering. My brother revealed that on July 16th he’d gotten married. I won’t explain why this was as crushing a blow as it was, because that’s something only my closest and oldest friends will truly understand, but that day changed my life.
I’m 11 months in to my new world and I’m still finding my bearings. So much has changed since last July. My older brother whom I relied on heavily as a creative partner and best friend is now a distant stranger whom has continued to shake me since that fateful day. I’ve learned what friends truly value me, versus the ones that simply tell me they do. I was promoted at work, but I’ve lost co-workers that were dear to me and the desire to create instead of being strapped to a desk has never had a greater pull on me.
So July is approaching again and for the first year since 2005 I’m looking forward to it.
In two weeks my best friend and I will be headed to a little town in Oregon to see two of our dearest friends get married – on July 16th. From everything I know of them as a couple it will be a glorious, hipster wedding – an event to make RECords of and remember for years to come. As if that weren’t enough to celebrate the return trip will take us back down the entire California coast to end in San Diego, where my best friend will experience her first Comic-Con and I will have the chance to redeem the memories that pained me the year before.
Creatively I’ve never been stronger or more inspired. I’m writing my own screenplay, taking artistic risks, finding old creative loves and exploring new ones. I’ve started to take adventures and explore, I went to hitRECord at the Movies and met a dude that calls himself RegularJoe, I took a painting workshop in Fullerton, I saw artists create with chalk on cement, I’ve blogged, tweeted & RECorded and met people who inspire me from hundreds of miles away. I’ve never felt more like an artist than I do at this very moment and I can look at that and know that God is working all of this craziness together into something wonderful that I cannot yet see.
I look forward to seeing what happens next and the artist I will become because of it.