Over the past year and seven months, you have experienced much grief for different reasons, and I know that you have felt lost in the shuffle of our family’s grief. I know this, because 4 months before you lost your brother, I lost my brother. We both lost siblings in different situations, but nonetheless, we both lost our brothers….and that is a loss that is life altering. Losing your brother has, I know, changed your world…has changed how you view the world….and has changed how you view life. And what’s sad is that the grief that siblings experience often becomes secondary to the grief of the parents. With that secondary place, it placed on you a burden that you took on with strength and resolve. For the first 6 months after Aaron’s passing, you were there for me when I couldn’t be there for myself. And I feel some guilt for placing my weakness in your hands while you were also struggling with the loss of your brother. I almost feel that you placed your grief on hold in order to help me through some very emotional situations. In that period of time, you showed such fortitude on the outside….while on the inside your pain stayed tucked away in a very special place of your heart.
As time has gone on, you’ve realized the need to deal with your grief…and while there have been some bumps in the road and some very hard emotional work, you continue to learn to cope with your brother’s absence from our family, from your life, and from our future family. And I know how hard it is to do that….I know how hard it is to face that pain head on…and I know how low that pain can take you. It can take you to some of the deepest and darkest places within your heart, soul, and your mind. And I know how hard it is not to have him here when you need him. It’s heartbreaking to know that he isn’t here to give advice, to listen, or to take up for you. I miss that from Steve too. But as I have watched you over the last year or so, I have seen something develop in you that maybe you don’t see yourself. What is that you might ask?
What I see in you comes from deep within…the only place it can come from when you’ve experienced the loss that we have. From within you, I have watched determination rise from your core and manifest itself in your daily life. While you may have felt like your resolve has wavered, I have watched you continue with life….hard as it has been….and even through the emotional obstacles….you have persevered and have held firm. I have also seen your courage…courage to continue even though the pain, at times, is almost unbearable. To face the challenges you have faced takes bravery….to stand in the midst of pain and tragedy is something that requires an endurance to not give up…yes…you are one of the bravest young women I have ever met. You have fought so many emotional battles, different from the emotional battles I have fought, but you continue to overcome those battles. Sometimes you fight those on a daily basis, but no matter how you do it, if you fight and you overcome, you make your brother proud.
I know that the last 17-18 months have been riddled with an array of emotions that range from shock, to sadness, to guilt, to blame, to anger, to yearning, to anxiety, to worry, to fear. I know, because I have experienced those as well….both with Aaron’s loss, but with Steve’s loss as well. I know from your perspective what it feels like to lose that one person that knew everything about you….the person who was there to stand up for you when something happened….the person you could call and talk to when things weren’t just right. And I know that you have even more reason to need him here. Oh how I wished I could make that happen for you.
I just wanted you to know what a brave, courageous, determined young woman you are….you make me very proud….and I know that you make your brother proud….especially since you have adopted his view of music! He would be most proud of that.
And remember that on those days that seem so dark….your brother loves you and is proud of you….and that he just might speak to you through the music you listen to. Also remember that you have a mom that is always here….anytime that you need me…..It’s my turn to be strong for you.
Mom and Aaron