Letter To Brian: February 23, 2012

Dear Brian,

I have been thinking about you so much lately. I find myself again obsessing over all the details I wasn’t able to get out of my head right after you died. Things like our last phone conversation, the last e-mail you sent me, the last time I was with you; I keep imagining what you were thinking as you were dying—were you in pain? Were you relieved? Were you thinking of me at all? What is the last thing you saw or thought before you passed? What did you take and how did you get it? What day did you die? I felt cheated that I couldn’t even have a “day” to mourn your death—all I know is it was sometime between October 7th and October 13th. However, based on the medical examiner’s report, it easily could have been a week. I still feel nauseous when I think about that part. You were dead for a week and I had no idea; I feel like I should have known or felt something wasn’t right.

Just before Christmas an acquaintance passed away following a 4 year battle with cancer. As I read her family’s last post on her Caring Bridge website to share the news, I absolutely fell apart. There was so much going through my head, Brian. They spoke of how she gently passed to the other side while surrounded by all those she held dear as they sang to her, prayed with her and held her hands and helped her to let go. It was the most beautiful thing I could ever imagine. It only made it that much more difficult to think of your passing—at your own hand, possibly painful and…absolutely all alone. I hope you had at least some idea of how much you were loved and appreciated and that your last thoughts were not questioning your worth. You were so important to me and your death has left an irreversible void.

It is so strange to think of how for all these years that you and I were so much the same— we both spent nearly all of our lives in and out of deep depressive episodes with recurring thoughts of suicide. I tried to hide it from everyone not only because I didn’t want to worry anyone but because I felt unsafe expressing any feelings or emotions and I know you felt the same way. Not only was there a robust family history of depression in our family, but we weren’t brought up in an environment where the healthy sharing of emotions and feelings was happening and that pattern seems to have run generations deep as well. There were a specific few years of my 20’s that were particularly bad when I thought of suicide every single day. I had a folder full of all sorts of methods I had researched which could implement to bring about my demise should one single day prove to be the one that put me over the edge. Having that folder kept me going—it brought me so much peace to know that I had a plan and I wouldn’t have to endure the pain forever. I tried so hard to talk with you about that towards the end; I shared all of that with you but, in hindsight, I can’t imagine things would have played out any other way.

Truth be told, when I felt like you did, there isn’t a single thing anyone could do or say to make any difference at all. In fact, I’m spending more and more time in that state since you died. I’m actually jealous of you most days! I’m exhausted with life and going through the motions of day to day life. I truly feel as though I’m just getting by when deep in my heart I see no point. Honestly, if Mom and Dad weren’t around I would quite possibly join you tomorrow; but I just can’t bring myself to do that to them as I’m the only family they have left and vice versa. I’m really struggling to get myself to a point where I don’t feel so listless and hopeless and where there is more keeping me alive than just an obligation to others.

I truly hope you are healing on the other side and have found some comfort where you are.

Love,
Laura

Letter To Brian: October 4, 2011

Dear Brian,

It’s so hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since you left this world for another… where hopefully you found the peace you weren’t able to find here.

There’s so much I could tell you about this past year—about how much I’ve cried until complete exhaustion, how much I’ve missed you and how often I’ve picked up the phone and started to dial your number to call you only to realize seconds later what I was doing. There are days it is so painful to be around people because I feel so different from them. And I think there is a part of me that is afraid to get close to people because I’m afraid that they too will leave.

I’ve started to come out of my shell a little bit and am beginning to return somewhat to the person I was before. While I’ll never be the same again—I’ve managed to find myself laughing more often and when I think of you there are almost as many smiles as there are tears… so I’m starting to move on a little bit.

After you died I was haunted by the fact that each day that passed was bringing you farther and farther away from me; the last time I saw you, the last time we spoke, the last e-mail I received from you… all of those were becoming farther away as well. Now that feeling seems to have shifted a tiny bit; I find myself beginning to see each day that passes as bringing me one day closer to the day I get to see you again.

Love Always,
Laura

Letter to Brian: March 20, 2011

Dear Brian,

I’ll never forget the last time I saw you. It was July 5th, 2010– you brought me back to the airport after my visit home for Mom’s birthday. The entire ride was so heartbreaking; I could feel it– your profound sadness. I tried to get you to talk about it but you kept changing the subject… so I let it be. I just wanted to spend time with you. I didn’t want the ride to end; the closer we got to the airport the more anxious I grew. I didn’t want to say goodbye to you– something was happening that made my heart ache for you but I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly. You got out to help me with my bags, I gave you a hug and said, “Come visit me soon, OK?? See ya later, dude.” Once inside the airport doors I allowed myself to turn around in time to see you driving away; I started sobbing because in my heart I knew I’d never see you again… and I didn’t.

That part still haunts me– that I was so connected with you that I could sense that but yet I didn’t feel it the moment you died. It will take me a lifetime to get past the fact that an entire week had passed before you were found. I felt like I let you down– that not only did you die alone but you continued to lie there alone for a week while I went about my life. “He’s gone, honey.” Those are the first words I heard from Mom confirming that what we had hoped hadn’t happened really had… and the nightmare began. For weeks I would call your cell phone several times a day just to hear your voicemail message; I worry that I’ll forget the sound of your voice. I was a mess the first time I called your number after it was finally disconnected– it was like you had died all over again and the last remaining connection I had to hearing your voice again was gone.

I keep running through our life together over and over in my head. We were so close in age that we shared everything together– we experienced all stages of life at the same time: childhood… high school… college… jobs… everything. And we even liked each other enough to choose to be roommates as adults! I loved that we were not just brother and sister, but we were friends. We both included each other in our circles of friends and activities. I keep trying to remember those things; our Sundays watching the Simpsons, you “singing” me the X-Files theme song, pizza and football games, and even you trying, very patiently, to teach me how to drive a manual transmission! You had the most amazing, contagious laugh and a very gentle spirit and are going to be missed by so many people– more than you could have ever imagined. It may not make sense but it feels like you have taken that past with you… and it also feels as though you have also taken my future as I never imagined it without you.

I often wonder how long it’ll be before those memories bring me more joy than pain– because right now it hurts to think of them. My heart is broken! I find myself detaching from the world, I’m suffering from frequent panic attacks when the pain is just so strong it takes my breath away. I have become jealous of others who have siblings who are still here– and am hurt when I see them angry with each other. I am not the same person anymore; I feel so isolated, so different from everyone else. I can laugh… but have no true joy right now. I suppose some happiness will come back someday… but for now there’s only a hole in my heart where you used to be.

Please know that I am not angry at you now… nor do I think I ever will be. I have been to that place myself before and fought my way back out. I know it wasn’t a compulsive choice you made but rather the culmination of years and years of battling a crippling depression and you held on as long as you could– for us.

I miss you and think of you every waking moment. Instead of saying goodbye to you, since I know I’ll see you again, I’ll just say what we always said to each other– “See ya later, dude.”

Your loving sister,
Laura