Dear Brian,

Last Saturday I was in Maryland for a beautiful wedding.  I knew I’d cry.  I always cry at weddings.  What typically gets me going is watching the groom’s face as he gets the first glimpse of his love walking down the aisle towards him– seeing him tear up, seeing him try to swallow the lump in his throat as he attempts to remain composed but you know that inside his heart is bursting with love and joy.  And yes, seeing the groom last Saturday did make me so happy as the love that this couple shares is really special and I was so grateful to have been a part of their day.  But what really got me this time was seeing the groom’s sister crying as she, a beautiful bridesmaid, made her way to the front of the church. I shared in the tears of that young woman as she wept with joy for the love her brother has found– a flood of emotions came forward and I was completely unprepared. They, like us, only have each other for siblings– just one boy and one girl in the family.  It made my heart ache for being denied the opportunity of ever seeing you eagerly standing in a tuxedo at the front of a long aisle as you wait for the love of your life to make her way to you.

You were so quiet and secretive about your relationships so when you did finally introduce someone to the family it was a really, really big deal and I never took that lightly!  I did always hope for the day when you would meet someone special enough to earn a place in your life as your wife–she’d have been a lucky girl and you really deserved to find that for yourself.  I also know that when I marry again that I will be missing you a little extra that day as I would have had you give me away and walk me down the aisle towards the man that I love.

It is in no way lost on me that your death has altered me in such a way that no experience is ever like I expect it to be anymore; I now look at things through a completely different lens. It seems very little that happens is a benign event– you always seem to come to mind.  I think about how you’d react if you were there… or how my experience of it would be changed if you were here to share it with me.  If there is one thing I’ve learned it is to just allow those feelings to come forward and allow myself to just feel them… they are there for a reason.

It’s been nearly 4 years since you took yourself away from me; in the agonizing days, weeks and months following your death I honestly didn’t think I’d be able make it this far… but I have.  I ache so badly for what I’ve lost with you gone, Brian; but it no longer consumes me every single day.  I’m strong enough that the days where I am completely incapacitated by grief are growing further and further apart. Please keep leaving those pennies for me, dude.  Each and every one I find makes my heart smile to think that you are out there somewhere thinking of me, too.

Love Always,

Laura

In honor of Father’s Day I’d like to share this poem written by my dearest friend in the whole world– a woman of whom I am so very proud!  She possesses a strength and courage I can only hope to have someday and has made such amazing progress in her recovery.  It is an honor to call her my friend. ❤

 

Dear Dad,

I wasn’t planning to send you a Father’s Day card (I don’t think Hallmark makes one that’s appropriate for you), but here I am, writing a letter to you just days before the day of fathers. Maybe it was the endless onslaught of Father’s Day-themed email I’ve been receiving all week. Perhaps the odd feeling I still get in the pit of my stomach when I hear the words “Dad”, “Father” and “Daddy” is to blame. Regardless of what sparked this fire- it’s burning now. So here is the closest thing to a Father’s Day card you will get from me.

Thank you, Dad,
for abandoning my mother
and five children you made
in favor of pursuing
the “real” love of your life,
but not before spending years
bathing your daughters
so thoroughly that I still wince
at the thought of Irish Spring
between my legs
and your hands,
not before you convinced me
that God and Grandpa
could see my naked body
just as you could.

Thank you, Dad,
for spending enough years
away from me
that I forgot what you
were really like,
for rescuing me from
the harmful hands of my step-dad
and replacing them
with your own,
for keeping me safely locked
in silence, secrecy and shame,
just as in the walls of your home.

Thank you, Dad,
for telling me that
you were in love with me,
that I was special,
that you wanted to give me
an orgasm.

Thank you, Dad,
for the pet names-
slut, bitch, whore.

Thank you, Dad,
for lying to me
about who I was protecting
with my silence,

Lastly,
Thank you, Dad,
for showing up
years later
when I called
to confront you,
for thanking me for
not having the police there (that wasn’t up to me),
for saying “I hope it didn’t screw you up
too bad.”

You see,
I’m strong.
I had to earn it.
You were a challenge,
a crisis,
a tragedy.
I overcame you.
I fight now
for the other daughters,
who have fathers to thank
for hurting them
until something inside them
breaks
and something else
is born.

Happy Father’s Day

Dear Brian,

I couldn’t sleep at all last night.  I’ve really been missing you so I found myself going through old pictures and messages on Facebook. I began to feverishly search for the “very last comment” you ever wrote to me. As if reading it over again would provide some kind of insight that I had missed back then– some indication that only 5 days after that message you would kill yourself. I found nothing.

I guess I don’t know what I was looking for, really.  After all, I’d known for 5 months before your death that you were suicidal, anyway.  I tried making appointments for you. I tried sharing my own experiences with you thinking it might give you a little bit of hope. I texted you nearly every single day.  I called you often.  You usually didn’t answer.  I tried to get you to promise to always answer your phone so I’d know you were OK.  You said you couldn’t promise that.  I also asked you to promise me that you wouldn’t hurt yourself… you told me that wasn’t possible, either.  I hated that you didn’t take my calls because that gave you more power in the situation and took all of mine away… well any “perceived” power I had, at least. Until you answered the phone, I was in limbo wondering if you were OK and I resented that because I was at your mercy.  Until I heard your voice again… I couldn’t relax.  I hated feeling that dependent upon you answering your phone because it sounds silly and needy.  However, it felt as though with each unanswered ring that the chances that your phone was lying next to your cold, motionless body became more and more likely.  To hear you say, “Hey dude” on the other end gave me my peace of mind back… for a little while.

I also looked back to any times (before I knew that you were suffering) when I didn’t feel like talking so I just let it go to voicemail.  I regret each and every one of those.  Each call I passed up was one less time I had the opportunity to hear your voice.  To hear your laugh.  To tell you that you meant the world to me.  I’ll never get those chances back.  I will never stop regretting that I didn’t get to say goodbye to you.  I had neglected to call you for over a week before the day you died.  Maybe– just maybe–if I’d heard your voice I’d have felt you leaving and would have had the opportunity to say goodbye in some way.  If only to let you know that I understand… and that I forgive you.

I am not sure what pulled this agony out of the woodwork this week, but it’s here and I just needed to talk to you about it the only way I can now… by writing you these letters.  I miss you so much it hurts.  I hope it is OK that I’ve learned to move on and even find myself laughing a lot these days.  It often feels as though I’m betraying you… leaving you behind.  I’m still trying to navigate those feelings of guilt for being OK most days now.  Ironically writing this letter today made me very much not OK.  Did you ever cry so hard that you started throwing up and choking and gasping for air?  Seems I do that each time I’m missing you like this.  But when I do have a good day… when I do find myself laughing… well, I really need you to know that it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten you, Brian. I’ll never, ever forget.

Love Always,

Laura

 

Dear Brian,

I got a message from an old friend of yours not long ago.  Back in the late 1990’s you used to have a job driving an armored truck and when he saw one in front of him in traffic he thought of you and send me the following note:

“Funny how seemingly mundane things evoke such powerful impressions and memories. I was at a stoplight in Buffalo this morning behind some banged up 20 year old armored car that was barely even recognizable as such. It spurred a string of Brian memories that continued for the remainder of my commute to Plymouth. Cheers to Brian Habedank.”

I was so grateful for that note. It brings me so much joy to know that others have not forgotten you, either.  It got me thinking that if anyone reading this knows someone that is missing someone like we are missing you, the best gift they could ever give them is something like the note your friend sent me!  A note about a special memory, a photograph of that person, or just a few words to let them know they are remembering the person who is gone as well as those they have left behind.  And even if they didn’t know their loved one– just asking them about the person they lost and giving them a chance to share a little of that person with the world can make their day.

It’s true what he said, too– seemingly mundane things can spark a flood of memories.  Having had the pleasure of being your sister for 35 years I have so many of those things!  Seems everywhere I turn there is a reminder of you.  Some days I’m strong enough to let those memories come and go and leave a huge smile on my face.  And yet other days, like today, hearing the Crash Test Dummies’ song “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” is enough to transform me into a puddle of lonely tears as I remember hearing you laughing and singing along to it on the radio.

Shit.  I really hate missing you, dude.  But I can’t NOT miss you.  I’ll never NOT miss you.  I’ll just have to accept that some days the memories comfort me and some days they rip my heart out.

Love Always,
Laura

 

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