"Are you OK." There was a monologue I found from a play called "The Guys" by Anne Nelson that just rocked my world in college. The play is about a journalist who helped a Fire Captain write the eulogies he had to deliver for the men in the fire department who were lost on 9/11. It starts off "Are you ok?" And that is what every person who has talked to me today has asked me. I answer "yeah" or try to yawn and pretend like I am not about to dissolve into a puddle of tears.
Today is my least favorite day of the year because it’s a big fat reminder that life’s not fair. It's the day that I cry on the train or try to keep it together at work. Today is the fifth anniversary of my younger brother Scott’s passing. I'm struggling with what to say today because honestly I feel numb and all I really want to do is lay in bed and wait for it to be over. But that's the wonderful part of grief, it never really is going to be over. I don't get to wake up tomorrow thinking “phew, thank god that’s over.” When you lose someone it’s not the year that marks an anniversary of their passing but a day, an hour, a minute and every second.
My brother was the funniest person I ever met. He was quiet and shy around most people but hilarious and always on point. He and I used to sit for hours and he’d say maybe 30 things and each one was funnier than the next. We would get into so much trouble together.
I miss being able to sit on the couch with him. I miss walking into our front door and seeing him at the computer. He’d look at me and say something outrageous and I would drop to the floor and laugh and laugh and laugh while he just watched me with a sly smile. I miss when he used to ask me to drive him to In N Out or to a friend’s house. I miss his terrible handwriting and disaster of a bedroom. I miss the face he used to make when he was lying. I miss how he couldn’t eat a single M & M without getting it all over his face.
When you lose someone, milestones lose their sparkle. It’s hard to go to a wedding and think my brother will never be at mine and I will never be at his. It’s hard to go to a graduation and know my brother never got to graduate high school. It’s hard to watch people fall in love knowing that he never got to. I sometimes go to the S part of my phone hoping to see his name in my contacts and feel an empty frustration when it’s not there.
There are so many things I want to ask him. I want to ask him if he’s happy. I want to ask him where he is. I want to hear him tell me he loves me and that he misses me. My sister and I often think about whether he would have moved out to New York with us or what it would be like when he came to visit. What college he would have gone to and what he would have majored in. What passion he would find and pursue. What type of girls he would date and if he would ask us for advice. What he would think of the guys we date and if we would bug him for advice.
It doesn’t make sense what happened to him. You know when you lose someone the pain doesn’t get better or go away, it just changes. You never stop feeling like a huge part of you is gone. There are reminders everywhere. I mean I go on a date and the first questions is always “Do you have any siblings?” When you lose a parent you have Father’s day and Mother’s day. If you lose a spouse you have Valentine's Day. And then you get birthdays and general holidays which become a giant reminder that a huge piece of your puzzle is gone forever.
Everyone grieves differently but there is one thing I am adamant about, finding joy. Right when it happened all I wanted to do was laugh which people found extremely concerning and inappropriate. But honestly, how can anyone tell you how to frame your grief? When you lose someone, no one knows what to do and no one is going to know what to say. I felt like my brother wouldn't want us to let grief consume us. He’d want us to try to joke and laugh and tell funny stories about him. He wouldn’t want us to tip toe around trying not to acknowledge the giant elephant in the room. You are going to shatter, there's no way to avoid it. It hurts and you feel broken. Whenever I feel myself sinking I imagine my brother rolling his eyes at me and telling me to get over myself. He and I used to always make light out of the insanity that was our lives.
I’ve never been the type of person to sit back and watch the world pass me by but losing my brother lit a fire under my ass. He’s the reason I ran a marathon and continue to run today. I feel closest to him when I run. He’s everywhere. He’s the reason I moved to New York and why I pursue the things that scare the shit out of me or challenge me. He is a reminder to always tell people how much I love them and how much I appreciate them, even if we are fighting. No matter who it is or how upset I am I always try to end every conversation with a good goodbye.
One of my friends posted this article a few months ago called “5 Lies You Were Told About Grief” and it’s a pretty spot on piece. I’ve spent the last five years consumed with plays, ted talks, books and articles about loss and grief. Loss is an unbelievably difficult thing to wrap your head around and hearing people’s stories brings me ease and helps make sense of what happened. June 23rd is always going to be a reminder that Scott isn’t here anymore. But tomorrow will come. And then the next day will come. And hopefully the next. We owe it to the people we have and to those we have lost to do inspiring, influential and incredible things and to laugh and love ferociously. So in memory of my brother, tell a joke today or make someone smile. Until tomorrow friends, #RunSelfieRepeat.