still lives in their hearts, they just have their own lives to live now. I think that's what you would want anyways. For us not to be caught up in our grief but rather experiencing life fully. I couldn't do that for a long time. I tried, but I was too lost in the absence of you.
Six years later and I was still a broken version of the girl I once was. I didn't want to be alive anymore and that's when I knew I needed to let you go if I was ever going to live again. Holding onto the pain of your death kept you close to me, but it also confined me to a dark and dismal existence. Still, it was hard to let it go because I felt like the pain was the only part of you that I had left, a way for me to keep you alive after you stopped breathing. But the truth is, I'll always have you in my life, just in a different way then before. So much of who I am today is a reflection of you. And so there I was, desperately wanting to get better, trapped in the stages of grief and aware of the inevitability of what I had to do: I needed to accept your death. Accepting your death doesn't mean I'm okay with it, because I never will be, it just means I accept that it is my reality. I'm done resisting it. I'm done shoving my pain down into the greatest depths of me and pretending that it doesn't exist. I accept that I had a brother and he died when he was twenty-one and I have to continue to live my life without him. This isn’t the life I wanted for myself, but this is the life I have. The thought of all of that breaks my heart all over again, but it's the truth, the sad shitty truth, and it will never change.
Accepting your death was only a piece in my desperate attempt to become a whole person again. Accepting the reality of my life with out you was hard enough and I wish I could have stopped there and been instantly cured of any depression, but that is just unrealistic thinking. No, there was one more thing I knew I had to do this year in order to reassemble the pieces of my life, and that was to forgive the person who killed you. Forgiving someone for killing my older brother was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I hated them. I hated them so much. I hated them more than so much, whatever that is. They carelessly took your life and then drove away as if the impact of their actions was insignificant. But the thing is, being angry at them doesn’t bring you back. My hatred does nothing but hurt me because I’m the only one who can feel it and I didn’t want to feel it anymore. Keeping that much hate in my heart cemented me in my grief and since my life is going to continue without you anyways, I might as well try my best to be happy. And so I screamed and I cried and I said out loud everything I would want to tell this stranger, and then I forgave them. I hope that’s okay with you. I just think of what you would want for me, and that is for me to be happy. I just don’t think I could do that with all that resentment stitched through me. I can't change what they did and I can't go back in time and love you harder, all I can do is my best to live my life fully and love the people close to me as much as I can. I’ll always be the girl with the dead brother, it just won’t be the most distinguishing part of me anymore.
I miss you so much. It’s not a throbbing pain anymore, it’s more of a dull ache that exists in the caverns of me. It’s become a part of my anatomy and I’m used to it by now, sometimes I even forget it’s there. I still think about you a lot, but I only let myself do it in bits. If I think too hard then the tears come and well, I'm still not too good with feelings. Once and a while I let my mind wander to the hopeless fantasy that you weren’t riding your bike that night. That PBR cans never littered the street and you never stained it with your blood. You are here amongst the breathing. And I am there with you, wherever you are. For a moment I’ll let myself pretend this is possible. I just want to know you more. I want to sit out on the porch with you smoking cigarettes and ask you all the things I never asked you. I want to see what your life would look like at twenty-eight years old. I wish for things that will never come true. I’m jealous of girls who have brothers because I once knew what that felt like, and now I want that feeling back. It’s time for me to stop wishing. My wishing does nothing, because you are gone no matter how much I want you not to be. And so I tuck my hope away inside the part of me that already aches.
I fit into your jeans now. I like wearing them because they make me feel more connected to you. I'm not the sort of girl to wear ratty jeans covered in holes and hand-stitched patches, and so when I wear them I don’t feel like me but rather a girl pretending to be someone else, which is what I am. I put on your jeans and I feel closer to you and further away from myself. And so I'll wear them for a bit, and I'll pretend that anarchy runs in my veins as it did yours, but at some point I always turn back into myself. I can't emulate you physically but I can do my best to match my insides with the beautiful parts of yours. There was a violent storm that lived within you and you never tried to quiet it, instead you let it erupt into a million dazzling pieces, showering the world in all your uniqueness. You were brave, maybe the bravest person I've ever known, for you were unapologetically yourself, a person who detached themselves from conventional society and existed freely in this world. You were wild, never letting this world tame you. You were not afraid to ask questions and to stand up for what you believe in. You were so many things I want to be.
Sometimes I dream about you. Those are my favorite nights. The nights when you're with me and I don't know you're dead and we just enjoy the innocent company of each other. I dream of you and I forget that there is a missing piece in my heart and for a moment I feel normal. I like that version of my life better. I wish I could dream of you every night. That in the late hours of the night we can exist in the same world. Is it really you visiting me in my dreams, or is that just my imagination creating you? I'm going to believe that it is you, whatever part of you that is left, because that's the only way I get to talk to you. Mom and Blair talk to you all of the time, but I can't. I'm sorry, but it's just hard for me to talk out loud to you and hope that there's a version of you listening to me. I can't feel you. I want more then anything to be able to feel that you're watching over me, but I can't. Though if I let myself think that you are gone, really gone, and not a spirit that's watching over our family that I'll meet again in heaven, it's too heartbreaking of a thought. And so I'm stuck in this place of needing to believe in something I'm unsure of.
I'm glad I knew you. You changed my life in so many ways I never expected. I'm stronger than I ever thought I could be, and you gave me that. And maybe that's why you were here in the first place, to significantly impact the lives of the people who cared for you and then disappear to your next adventure. Whatever the reason, you're the only big brother I would ever want, even though that means I only got to know you for twenty-one years.
Happy Birthday my sweet angel. I'll blow out your candles for you.
All my love and much more,