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On Death

I didn’t expect my first post to GT to be a heavy one. But I think I need to get all these thoughts out. I’ll probably delete this later.

My grandfather died when I was very young, but I have no memories of that. My first real encounter with death was during my last year of high school. We were having a senior lock in when they called us all into the gym and told us that a student, a junior, had died in a car accident. We cried together for a while and then went home. I sang with my chorus at her funeral. I wasn’t very close with her and didn’t know her very well. But I knew here a little and I liked her. We were in chorus together and we had played on the same volleyball team a few years earlier. I left high school and mostly forgot about her. Facebook would let me know when it was her birthday, and occasionally things would show up in my newsfeed when her close friends wrote on her wall about how much they missed her. Every time I saw that I felt bad for the fact that I never thought about her.

My next experience with death was my grandmother. I loved her and mourned her, but she was 98 or 99 and it wasn’t exactly shocking. She lived a good, long life. She was very active until her last couple of years even. (Yet every time I saw her for pretty much the last decade of her life she would remind me that it could be the last time.) I was with my boyfriend (now husband) when my father called, and my phone was on silent. When I checked my phone later I had a lot of missed calls from “Grandma” because my dad had been calling from her phone.


Then my step-father. He was sick for a while and they knew it was coming. I honestly never really liked him. But I was sad because he was a person I knew and now he was dead. And more than that, I was sad for my mother and my younger half-sister who loved him so much. I cried more for them than for him.

Then, through kind of a terrible chain reaction, my older half-sister. She was bipolar and she and her husband lived with my mom in Florida. But after she lost her husband, they moved in with my sister’s husband in New Hampshire. Apparently it was not uncommon for her to occasionally feel like everyone was out to get her and run away. In Florida it wasn’t too big a deal I guess, and she would eventually come home or they would find her. In New Hampshire, she ran away during a snow storm. She was missing for a while. When my father told me she was found, and she was dead I realized I already knew. A while earlier I had broken down to my boyfriend about her being missing and though I didn’t realize it at that time that was really when I stopped thinking of her as missing and started believing she was already dead. I cried a lot and I missed her, but it was strange because I never really saw her when she was alive. She was nine years older than me and we hadn’t lived in the same house since I was 2 or 3, when our mom and my dad got divorced. I would visit my mother on all the holidays and during summer vacation, and sometimes my sister would be there but sometimes she wouldn’t. We did talk on the phone shortly before she went missing. I was so glad for that.

Last night, my father called and asked if I was sitting down. I could hear the laughter in his voice. I sat and waited for his joke. But he wasn’t laughing, he was crying. He told me my brother was dead. I didn’t understand. It didn’t make any sense. I just saw him on Thursday for Thanksgiving. He was fine. This was different somehow than all the others. There was the classmate’s death, which was shocking, but I barely knew her. And the other family members, but by the time I heard they were dead it wasn’t really a surprise. I either knew it was coming, or already suspected it had happened. This was a shock. This is a shock. And I’m really struggling to process it.

My brother is the only sibling I grew up with, both of us raised by our father. We shared a bathroom. I used to see him every day for so many years of my life. I haven’t really had a good relationship with him as adults. He never really outgrew the whole trying to irritate your sibling thing. My mom moved up closer to us about a year ago, so recently I pretty much just saw him whenever we both went to her house for holidays and birthdays. Like for Thanksgiving last Thursday. Sometimes we had a lot of fun together, but sometimes he would make me angry on purpose. I often dreaded seeing him because I never knew which way it would go down.


But even though I didn’t always like him, I loved him and I already miss him. But like with my sister, I didn’t see him very often so I just keep thinking that this will barely affect my life. And that seems wrong. How can this not have a bigger impact on my life? I cried a lot last night. I cried for me. I cried for my younger sister, who doesn’t even know yet. She’s still in college. My mom wants us to meet and tell her in person this weekend. I cried for my dad, who had a terrible relationship with my brother and will probably wonder forever what he could have done differently. I cried for my mom, who has lost so many people in such a short time and is all alone now. I told her I thought I should come over last night but she said she just wanted to be alone and that we would get together this weekend.

I barely slept last night. I thought of the big fight we had a few years ago. I thought about Thanksgiving, and how it was pretty nice. We had a nice time. I thought about the time when I was in eighth grade and my brother ran away from home for a while. I was mad at him for hurting my dad by doing that, and I was hurt because it was almost my birthday and he was going to miss it. But then I came out of my science class and he was waiting for me in the hallway. He told me to meet him on Saturday and he would take me out for a birthday lunch.


Then there’s all the selfish thoughts. After my dad called I remembered we hadn’t eaten yet. So I went to the fridge and pulled things out. My husband took over and I thought “oh, of course he’s going to cook tonight, my brother is dead.” I wanted to be there for my mom last night, and I want to be there for her this weekend, but part of me wonders—how long do I have to be there for her? Am I expected to visit her more often now? I mean, I guess I definitely need to go to her house for Christmas even though we went there for Thanksgiving. My husband’s family will understand. And there’s a party I’m going to on Friday that I’ve been looking forward to and planning for for a month. Will I have fun? Will I feel bad if I have fun? Will I be mad if I don’t? I remembered that a couple of years ago my brother asked for my social security number so he could make me the beneficiary of his life insurance. I thought that was weird at the time, but I didn’t dwell on it because I didn’t really think it mattered. I don’t want money for that. What would I even do with that money? Do they even pay life insurance for an overdose? I was thinking of going to my high school’s homecoming in a few weeks. What will I say if people ask about him? It doesn’t seem like the time or place to talk about death. Do I lie and say he’s fine and change the topic? What about my close friends from high school, should I tell them? I hardly ever see them anymore and it seems like it would be weird to tell them, but it also seems like it would be weird not to. I just ordered his Christmas present this weekend. I wonder if I’ll cry when it shows up in the mail. Like the phone charger on Jessica Jones.

The thought I keep having the most is just “This is so weird.”

Fuck, this is so weird.

Part of me wants to put him aside and stop thinking about him for a while so I can get some work done. And so I can sleep tonight. Part of me feels like I should stop everything and think of nothing but him. I think of all the people who have died who I hardly ever think about, because losing them didn’t really change anything in my daily life. Sometimes I forget they’re dead. And I’m afraid it will be the same way with him. But for him it feels more wrong. He hasn’t been a big part of my life since he graduated from high school ten years ago. But he was such a big part for so long before that.


This is just... so weird.

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