Dear Brian,

I’m missing you a lot today.  For some reason this morning I was reminded of when you came to see me at the hospital the night of my car accident; you brought the girl you’d been dating with you and that was my first time meeting her.  I was having trouble remembering what her name was so I thought I would just text you or call you and ask.  Then it dawned on me that I can’t.

I’m confused and bewildered by that.  You’ve been dead for 3-1/2 years but yet I still get the urge to text or call you sometimes.  For a fraction of a second I’m excited thinking, “I haven’t talked to him in a while, I’m going to call.”  It’s ever so brief but long enough to flood me with a mix of confusing emotions.  I am absolutely ashamed of myself for thinking for a moment that I COULD call you… does that mean I’m moving on and forgetting??  I can’t tolerate that.  I still think about you every single day without fail; so how can I possibly have these moments where I think I can just pick up the phone and talk to you?

I’m also noticing a shift in that I’ve started feeling a bit more anger over your death than I did before.  I’m not really mad at you for taking your life as I still maintain that I understand WHY you did that; but more so because you’re just. not. here.  In our small family of four, you were my peer, my friend, my “partner in crime;”  you know my history as well as I do and can understand why I am the way that I am and I miss sharing things with you.  You were supposed to be here help me take care of our parents as they age.  You were supposed to be there in MY old age.  When things with Mom and Dad were stressful you were the one I could rely on to talk to about it and we were there for each other.  I know you’re still there for me but not in a form that I can understand anymore; while I feel your presence I can’t talk to you like I once did… hence these many long-winded letters I write to you.

I’m finding myself getting angrier with life in general at times, too; I’m just so out of sorts missing you that it affects how I deal with everything that comes my way– big or small.  I’m still angry that Dad forgot your birthday, Brian.  I shouldn’t be– even growing up he had to be reminded of when our birthdays or other special occasions were, so I guess your death shouldn’t have changed that but I still wish it had.  I really wish he seemed to remember the details about you (your life, important dates in your life, etc.) like he remembers them about our dogs.  But like I said before, he didn’t remember them when we were kids unless Mom reminded him so it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to because I’ve just come to expect it but still wish it were different for you because you are deserving of being remembered and celebrated on those days.

I need you to know that you are important to me, Brian, and that you always were.

Thanks for letting me ramble today, dude.

Laura

Brian, you had the absolute best and most contagious laugh on the planet!! As soon as I saw this video I knew it was something that would have made you laugh uncontrollably and that made me smile. So enjoy this ridiculous video, dude.  I’ll be hearing your laugh inside my heart!

group shotgallego

Dear Brian,

I spent last week in Washington, D.C. at an Advocacy Forum put on by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention… and was lucky enough to have been issued a scholarship to attend that event.  Those 4 days in Washington were so meaningful to me as I was given the chance to not only hear world-renowned speakers discuss advancements in research and prevention throughout the week but also the opportunity to meet with Congressional Representatives in person.  I was able to share my story and experience with the mental health system as it relates to my own history of Major Depressive Disorder, years of self-injury and suicidal ideation as well as your struggle with depression and ultimately your choice to end your own life.  I was honored to have been given the chance to tell them about losing you and about what they as lawmakers can do to help prevent this from happening to other families.

I was part of a group of three as we made the rounds to eight different Congressional Representative’s offices on Thursday and I think we were paired up pretty well!  As someone who lost a sibling I was joined by a woman who had lost a son to suicide and another woman who was a suicide attempt survivor.  The three of us each brought our own unique perspective to the effort and I was humbled and moved by the responses we received from each office whether we met with a staffer or with the Congressman themselves.  Each person seemed truly touched by our willingness to come visit and share our experiences with them and all but one of our eight offices had some connection to suicide as well– either a suicide attempt, a suicide death of someone close to them or someone they care about had lost someone to suicide.  It was a very emotional and rewarding experience.

I’m finding it a little hard to be back in the swing of “real” life again after last week’s events as I felt more at home among those 250 other advocates from across the U.S. than I have in a long time.  Each and every one of us had traveled across the country to participate in this advocacy movement because we all have suffered a suicide loss or a mental illness of our own and, in many cases, both.  It was so wonderful to be amongst such a large group of caring individuals and to feel truly understood and respected.  I’m so grateful for all the friendships that have emerged from the experience.  In fact there were a few moments alone in my hotel room where I found myself crying; not just because I was missing you but because your death is what brought me there to D.C.  I was looking back at the long list of people who have come into my life as a direct result of your suicide– by way of support groups, community walks and also the amazing people I’ve come into contact with simply because of this blog where I share my letters to you.  I’ve formed some amazing friendships with people I’d never have known had it not been for our unique connection of shared grief.  While I still deeply mourn your loss, I do find comfort in the company of those like me who are mourning their own losses.  There is something immensely special about this group of people!

I look forward to next year’s Advocacy Forum as I plan on making this an annual trip.  I carried you with me in my heart throughout the entire week (as I do every single day) and I know you’d be very proud of the work being done by so many, Brian.

Love Always,
Laura

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