When my brother Chris took his own life on 2/16/22 everything I ever knew to be true and real folded sharply into itself and it has not straightened out since.
I am a different person than I was on 2/15/22. I will never be the same person again.
I woke up on 2/16/23 at 4:30am in a hotel room in Las Vegas. That statement in and of itself is utterly ridiculous. My chest was so heavy I felt like I couldn't breathe.
I wept. I wept for hours. I wept for my sweet brother and his horrible pain. I wept for my own grief and loneliness. I wept for his children, I wept for my parents and sisters. I wept for all of humanity because I am so sad that more people didn't get to know him and love him.
I sat in a meeting yesterday morning and had a moment in which I could not understand, literally could not comprehend, what reality was. In that moment, I had absolutely no idea what was real. I started to cry, in a meeting with colleagues, and then I started to panic. I thought my heart would explode in my chest. I had no idea why I was there, in Nevada of all places, and none of any of what was being said seemed important. I had less than two hours of sleep, I was exhausted and starving. Everything felt like an angry slight on my heart. A colleague that I care very much about had been short in a response to me and I didn't see it as them being overwhelmed or exhausted or starving (seriously, the food situation was insanity, but that's not important right now). Instead my heart immediately decided they didn't care about me the way I cared about them and I felt like I was falling under the deepest ocean and unable to swim to the shore.
I was worthless. A horrible sister. A terrible daughter. A miserable wife. A wretched mother. A useless employee.
I understood my brother so, so deeply in that moment.
It was so awful. It was painfully, horribly, unbelievably awful.
I don't know what's real anymore.
It is not yet real to me that he is dead. I saw his lifeless body. I kissed his battered forehead. I touched him and the coldness still haunts me. My brain 1000 percent knows that he is gone to me as long as I am on this planet.
I expect him to text me. If a text message comes in I always have one second of hope. I expect him to walk around the corner. I expect to hear, "How are you, honey?" I hear his laugh everywhere I go.
I am scared I am failing at everything. I am terrified that I am giving so much of myself to people who don't really care about me because...how could they? I am terrible. I talk too much. I'm sad all the time. I try so hard and everything I do sucks. The people who are supposed to love me don't. The people I believe loved me always leave. Every ounce of confidence I display is an act. I am an imposter.
None of that is real either.
My brain is really, really mean.
I slept about four hours last night and made the final leg of my destination home this morning. The sleep helped. Eating food helped. Cold Diet Pepsi always helps. Still, I cried nearly every moment between Raleigh and my doorstep. I kept thinking about how I stood up at the memorial for my sweet brother and said all the beautiful things I should have said to him when he was here and alive.
Would it have mattered? I don't know. I honestly don't.
My commitment, though, is to tell the truth about how I feel. To everyone.
The good, the bad, the really, really ugly. The beautiful things. The truth. All I can be is real and it might get super weird around here, but this is what is happening.
It's all I can do.
This is the new reality. I have to face it.
I can't let the darkness win.
Today is the first day of year two.
I am surviving this. So far it's not easier, but I am surviving.