My brain is an escape artist.
It takes advantage of books and movies, mostly, though daydreams will do in a pinch. If the story is good enough for me to suspend disbelief, my consciousness will gladly take a break from the here and now and spend time in that imagined world.
Once the movie ends or whenever its time to put the book down for a bit, there is a small period of adjustment as my cerebral hemisphere attempts to transition between the imaginary and the ordinary. Occasionally I'll have a small moment of panic as it seems that awareness of the passage of time is one of those functions that takes a short vacation. I was reading at the nail place this weekend during my pedicure and when I was driving away I looked up the street and saw my bank. My adrenaline surged briefly as I tried to remember if I'd actually paid bills on our last payday. Of course I had; but that reality hadn't yet returned.
I had a similar experience during the weeks that followed my brother's death, but instead of escaping to an imaginary reality, my brain took refuge in the minutiae of planning, sorting, figuring out what needed to be done. When all was said and done and I headed back home to real life, my brain was reluctant to follow me back. The period of dislocation was extended and profound; no surprise, my conscious brain was in no hurry to take residence in a reality where my loved one was no longer going to be present - ever.
Interestingly enough, I have periodic moments of panic when I forget that he is gone and realize I've let an important date or event slip by without calling or inviting him. Or I've fallen into a daydream of childhood and adult memories, conversations we've had, youthful escapades, various episodes that became the stuff of family legend. Then I remember and that little zip of adrenaline sinks into something I can't name but feels like hollow pressure inside the center of my sternum and a lurching sensation in my stomach.
And people probaby wonder "when is she going to stop talking about her dead brother?" but its less that than an acknowledgment to friends who have also suffered losses who are remember birthdays, holidays and events and living through them without their own loved ones.
I don't believe there is a finite point where one must no longer make public references to someone they've lost. We can be past that period of heavy, active grief and still be filled with memories and thoughts of the person we miss so deeply. Wishing them a happy birthday or remarking how much they had been here to join us for a reunion, event or holidy - its not morbid, its not escaping reality, its not attention-seeking. We honor those we love even though they are gone because they made a mark on our lives that can never be erased. Steph remembers her dad's birthday even if none of her other family members are talking about it on Facebook. Vicki writes to Jack how much she loves and misses him on the fifth anniversary since he died. Varda finds more pictures of her mother and father and posts them on her blog. Our memories are engaged and for a period of time we do not wish to take that step out of the theatre door into the afternoon sunlight.
Woudl that it were that easy.