TW: Today's the 4-week anniversary. I'm pretty much crying today like it's my job, so odds are Kleenex will be required for you guys too.

Dan,

You're gone four weeks today. It's a devastating landmark of time: long enough that parts of me chafe to resume a semblance of normalcy, but not long enough for things to be changed very much from the moment that I found out.

Parts of me still can't grasp it completely. I mean, who the fuck does this happen to? Parts of me can't believe that you rage quit life like some shitty video game.

I miss you terribly. Which is almost funny when you consider how little we'd been speaking these past few years. Our conversations always had to have a purpose and a topic, because you always felt like you were an interruption. We all felt that way, you know; our childhood was good for that. And sometimes you were, but now all I want to do is talk to you just to talk to you. It wasn't because I didn't love you, and I deeply regret if it ever felt that way to you. I just lost patience with you sometimes when the rest of us were trying so hard all the time just to get by.

Like when we were kids and I caught you in a lie and you'd hold on to the lie. And we'd argue for days until I was finally like, "Dan, which thing is it? Are you stupid enough to think this is a good lie, or do you think I am so stupid that I would believe this lie?" Or like that time you'd asked me to buy you an apartment for your birthday. Sure, because I live with my in-laws and have that kind of disposable income. I wish I'd been nicer when you pissed me off like that. Though I don't know how I could have been besides telling you the truth with a little humor. Our relationship never really got over that dynamic. You saw me mad so often, I wonder if you didn't think of me as just always that way. I guess that's the downside of me being the oldest, the parentified child who kept order in our hyperbolic, impossible childhood. Which at 26, you were hardly out of, dude.

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I wish I could change so much. This is hardly the way I'd wished for life to turn out for you. I wish I'd told you the last time I saw you to stop fucking trying to impress me and just be yourself with me. At least I told you I love you. And I told you to call me— I even gave you my phone number again, which has been the same for almost a decade, which you used to know by heart. I wish I'd found the time to write to you like I'd been meaning to the week before— when it could have helped you. As opposed to now, when it can only help me.

I wish you'd called me, dude. Instead you took away my opportunity to remind you that the phone works both ways.

You took so much from your sisters with this, I wonder if you were even able to grasp the idea of it four weeks ago. I can barely grasp what I'm missing four weeks later. Did you know that we still loved you? That no matter what stupid thing you did, we always love you? We still love you after this.

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I wish I could have made you understand that we all fear for how the future will turn out, but we bite it back and smile to get through the days. Instead I stand at the edge of a future that I cannot conceive of beyond a lot of crying and dysfunction. I used to imagine lazy weekends where you'd get the kids I don't have yet into all kinds of trouble, that you'd teach them how to push my buttons. Kids. I don't even know if I want them anymore if they won't get to know you. I want to rage at you for taking that from me. For making sure that the first thing they know about love is loss, like it wasn't going to be hard enough to explain why their mother has no parents. Now you're another picture for whom I'll have to answer, "Who's that and what happened to them?"

I used to have a brother instead of a question. Even when we were mad at each other, that arrangement is a hell of a lot easier to deal with.

I try, when I think of you, to remember a moment from the last few years we had any sense of innocence. Laughing and walking back to the house with our arms around each other, soaked and filthy from a day spent climbing in the glen. We joked that we looked like we had no proper home, which was extra funny, because Mom had just died, and we'd lost our sense of what home was. I feel like that now, but you're not here to cheer me up by saying, "Wet hobos." Or to point out that a third of the water on my shirt is probably snot.

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I miss you forever, buddy. I love you for always. And at the moment, I hate you, just a little, for doing this to us.