Tonight I sat on the top of a hill and stared out at the vast expanse below me. I saw county buses, rooftops, fields, and streets. I watched dark, stormy clouds roll in and lay thick and hazy over the silhouettes of buildings. I thought of a night, not so unlike this one, during which I had lain awake in my bed, just thinking of where you were. I ended up writing you a letter because I couldn’t get you off of my mind. It was raining that night, and I wondered if you could hear it. If you were warm. If you were worried or scared or homesick. Fat, silent tears rolled down my cheeks as I worried about you. You had let a friend read that letter, and he told you it was beautiful. I was embarrassed, but also proud. My love for you was beautiful.
I thought of another night like that one. Knowing where you were, but not able to talk to you, or to tell you that it wasn’t where I wanted you to be. More tears, more anguish as I thought of you, worried over you.
As buses passed below, I pictured you riding them, early in the morning as you traveled by bus to work. I imagined you, riding your bicycle to the grocery store. Snippets of something you’d said about it–a broken curb causing you to fall into the street, the insulated grocery bag I had given you falling to the ground. Your back…more worry. But you were proud of yourself and I was proud of you. You dreamed of saving up for a motorcycle or a car, and I wanted to participate in that in any way I could. I wanted to help you search ads and fill out job interviews. I wanted to see you prosper, thrive, do things for yourself.
My eyes move along the cityscape to the horizon, a shining strip of ocean just beneath the clouds. So many rooftops, vehicles, places and things. And then I remember: you aren’t out there somewhere. I feel that stab of adrenaline and nausea that accompanies this train of thought, and I try to hold it back. Because for the first time in a long time I know where you are, and I know that you are safe. I know that you are pain free and happy. I know that nothing worse or better could happen to you.
Nothing worse or better.
In all of those times that my mind reached out to find you, I knew where you were. I wondered over the details and the minutiae of how and what you were doing. I worried about you and tried to make plans for you. I pictured you in different types of futures and tried to figure out how I would help you get to them. Although I know that the last calendar year involved more separation for us than it did togetherness, I never felt disconnected from you. So perhaps it makes sense that the overwhelming feeling I am experiencing now is emptiness. There is such a void in my life, my heart, my plans, and I can’t fill it or ignore it away. You, my earliest companion and life partner, are gone. We, who had adjacent seats on our life journeys for so long, are no more. I have lost a part of my past, a part of my heart and soul. A part of me is missing, never to return in this life.
The grief I feel is like a deep and dark abyss. Oftentimes I start to fall in and I am terrified at the feeling. I don’t know how far or for how long I’ll fall. I feel out of control. I am careening toward the unknown. I cannot allow this. So I reign my feelings in, step back from that abyss, and distract my mind elsewhere. I worry, not about you anymore, but about me. I see myself as though from a hilltop: I am tiny and indistinct. I am burdened down by loss. I am drowning in my grief. I cannot possibly survive this.
I blink my eyes and turn away from that view. The world is broad and full but you aren’t in it. The future is a rolled-up scroll and I worry about its contents. How long will I feel this way? Forever? Can I do this? Of course, I have no other choice.
Even now, as I write, a soft rain starts falling. It’s very unusual for May in Southern California. I can’t help but think that perhaps this is a sign from you to me. That just like that letter I wrote to you years ago in the rain, you are hearing my message of love even now. “She really loves you, man” that friend had said when he had finished reading.
It is late, and I am tired. I am So often tired these days. It takes every ounce of my energy to hold on to the rim of the abyss and not fall in. Tonight I’ll settle in with the familiar ache of lonliness that I’ve had since you left me. I’ll send my prayers up through the raindrops and hope they reach you. Just tell him I love him, please.
Korey…I am heartbroken for you. This is truly touching. You are a beautiful sister to your brother and I’m certain he knew how fortunate he was to have you. The words “unconditional love” do not even begin to describe the love and the bond that can never be taken from you and will continue to grow even stronger as the months and years pass by. I can’t ease your pain, nor would I ever dare, since this hole in your heart will forever be there, as it is for mine, and it’s unfixable . I know you will honor and keep your brother’s memory alive for your sweet babies, too. They will know him. Keep writing, keep sharing. Sibling grief is different than parent’s grief, and your words can and will help other grieving siblings, as well as parents who want to know how the loss affects the surviving siblings . Thank you for allowing us into the sacred space of your heart. I can feel the love for your brother shining through. ❤
Thank you, Margie! Your kind words mean so much to me.