Written By Austin Brown
Human Good Series: What Is Grief, Anyway?
Grief is a marathon. I read a lot before I wrote this blog and most articles defined grief in 5 steps...Yeah right. More like 5,000 steps. As of today, I’m 4 years in. I’m still not a fan of cardio and I’m nowhere near the finish line. But here I am...still running, still moving forward. Embracing the process. I remember the first day I got out of my house after Peyton’s death. I went to Lennys with Teryn, another of Peyton’s best friends and my girlfriend. We walked in... there were families together, friends together. Just eating, doing harmless things with their worlds unchanged. I know it doesn’t seem like much, I mean it’s just a Lennys. But that’s when I realized the world will keep turning regardless of what happens in my life. I’d have to keep stepping forward, keep running. I’d have to live a new normal without my best friend, my brother. Some of these steps are harder than others.
Peyton. I remember when saying my best friend's name felt like he-who-must-not-be-named. I’m serious, saying his name would bring on emotions that I tried so hard to compartmentalize. I actively avoided his name until God no longer let me. Peyton no longer let me. But then you say his name once, thrice, it got easier. It still sucks but easier. So you take some more steps.
You go out with the boys. Get some drinks. Dance with your girl. Great night. Then y’all go back to whatever house you made HQ for the night. Someone starts crying...you know the convo. “What’s up with you?” “Peyton.” Understood silence. Words of warmth and love. The end. You reflect on the night. You have no idea where that came from. Maybe it was healthy though? Maybe it was the inevitable new normal?
Times like these help me realize that though grieving can be lonely I’m not in this alone. You can do this. Okay, let’s keep trucking. Don’t get me wrong. Not every part of this process has been sad. Some parts have been happy?
Drake puts out a banger. Peyton would love this song. The Grizzlies draft Ja Morant. Peyton would love this! Tiger wins The Masters. Yo Peyton would be going crazzyy right now!!
Sure, it sucks that he’s not physically here to relish in these moments. But these moments remind you of the memories. Man, I thank God that I still have the memories. They put the biggest smile on your face. And sure, you cry. But it’s those types of tears that start from your heart and when they come, they bring a feeling of warmth. A feeling that there’s hope and that everything is gonna be ok. Frankly, Grief seems endless. I called it a marathon but I have no idea if there’s a finish line. Maybe by the end of my life-time, I’ll have some type of answer. But right now I don’t, so I’ll just rely on my faith and keep running.
Austin Brown, the Weddle's childhood next-door neighbor, was Peyton's best friend. In fact, they all befriended Austin. He catered for Peyton's Nana, Carolyn Montfort, for nearly every single event, had dinner with The Weddle's most nights and became family. He and Peyton cherished each other's sense of humor, willingness to serve, and the ability to look at things in the big picture. Peyton and Austin dreamed big and Austin carries on Pey's legacy every single day.