Three years ago my dad died. After that I thought, Okay, that’s it. Nothing bad will happen for a while because it wouldn’t be fair. The universe would only dole out so much pain at a time, right?
That theory was proven wrong just shy of three years after my father’s death. On April 19th I got a call from my mom. My car broke down that morning so I thought she was calling to talk about it. Instead, what she said turned my life upside down.
“Your brother overdosed today, he’s gone.”
I’ve replayed those words over and over in my head, every day since they were spoken.
No one tells you what it’s like to lose a sibling. No one tells you it feels like suffocating, like there’s a weight on your chest that never quiet subsides. I feel it every day. Sometimes it’s hard to breathe, it’s hard to think, it’s hard to understand.
No one tells you how unimportant everything else seems in comparison.
No one tells you about the guilt. The what-ifs, the things you could have said, the questions you never asked. No one tells you about the moments you realize you didn’t know enough about him and about what he thinks and who he is. Or, who he was.
No one tells you about the avoidance. It’s numbing. It’s easier to pretend nothing happened, to speak about him as if he’s still here.
No one tells you how overwhelmingly impossible it seems to try to imagine a time where this doesn’t hurt. To imagine a day where you don’t cry. To imagine what it’s like to feel whole again.
No one tells you that when people say you’re strong, it makes you feel weak. That your strong exterior really comes from failure to face the pain and an assortment of unhealthy coping mechanisms.
No one tells you how scared you become. Death feels like it’s around every corner. I’m scared to answer the phone, I’m scared to do anything mildly dangerous, I’m scared for myself and for everyone I love. I’m scared something will happen to me and I’ll leave my mom all alone.
No one tells you these things because there’s no warning for your sibling’s death. There are no cushions for the blow. No one expects to celebrate their little brother’s 23rd birthday without him. Because no one expects to live the rest of their life without him.