I hadn’t talked to him that day, that week, or even that month. In fact, I hadn’t seen him in three months when he died. The distance he placed between us and between himself and the rest of our family, I believe, was directly related to his sickness. Although, I didn’t know that at the time. I didn’t know how sick he truly was. About a month and half before he took his life was the last time I heard his voice. I remember trying not to cry too much as I told him “I just want my brother back”. I remember trying to listen more than I spoke, and choosing what I said carefully because I didn’t want to lose him.
But I lost him anyway.
The status of our relationship at the time of his death has greatly challenged my grieving process. It is the reason I wonder if I’m “allowed” to be sad, it’s what causes me to defend why I’m heart broken to others, and it has been the seed of doubt nagging me when I’ve shared my story. I also believe it’s the reason I spend most of the time remembering John as a boy. Maybe it’s because those memories are pure; created in the innocence of childhood.
When John wasn’t sick.
When I was certain of his love for me.
I think about those moments that are just ours. They don’t belong to our parents, or our friends, or our spouses. They are ours. Brother and Sister.
My brother—my first friend—a piece of me—is gone. Am I allowed to be sad? Yes. Am I allowed to miss him? Every day. Am I allowed to grieve his absence in my life? Absolutely. Especially today as I whisper “Happy Birthday” in front of his headstone.
This confidence and assurance comes easier some days than others, but neither the status of our relationship nor the circumstances surrounding his death are allowed to be the lens I use to view my grief.
Happy Birthday, Baby Bro. I miss you deeply.