The grief process is a long and strange journey. Approaching the five year anniversary of Cullen's death I realize that it has been only in the last year or so that I have been able to hear his voice issuing occasionally from my younger son and laugh rather than tear up. I still do, sometimes, but the sadness is of a gentler variety and the intervals in between have grown longer. Last winter I was taken completely by surprise by the mere mention of the word "brother" in the song Walking Tall while listening to Lyle Lovett's collection of movie songs, Smile. I was so overwhelmed that I texted Pam to commiserate. I couldn't remember the last time I had cried to the point of sobbing over Cully's memory, and was grateful for the texting alternative because I was so overcome I was unable to speak. He was my brother and I loved him dearly but it is the way of the world that siblings grow up and follow their own life paths. Parting is inevitable. Cullen was her soulmate and had been a part of her everyday life for close to twenty years. I felt that Pam's loss was of a magnitude so much greater than mine. Yet here she was comforting me.
So today I gave Walking Tall another listen, the first time since it elicited such an emotional response from me a couple of months ago. A few tears but no sobs. The memory of loss has been replaced by the memory of Pam's generous consolation.
Needing some music for my Sunday morning ritual, I dug out The Hollies' Anthology and found another brother song. The memories I carry of Cullen grow lighter as time passes. Indeed, he ain't heavy. He is my brother and will always be in my heart.