Remembering My Brother

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

I am definitely one that you would consider on the high end of the Christmas joy spectrum. I love this time of year, the gatherings, the family, the food, the coziness of winter setting in… But for two years now, there’s been an underlying sadness in my heart. Two years ago today, my darling cousin, who in truth was more like my brother, left this world.

I think of him a lot, especially this time of year when our families would often be spending time together. And gosh does it break my heart. He was loved. He was bright and kind and adventurous. He had even just graduated from college only a couple days before his death. But he was also hurting inside. Enough so to end his life that day.

And I know so very deeply how that feels. I battled suicide and mental illness for so many years myself, even trying several times to end my own life. And I thank God everyday that He delivered me from that place and gave me another chance to thrive.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3

The past five years has been overwhelmingly filled with suicides in my close circles of friends and family. But losing Nick hurts extra deep. I still remember that day two years ago, although it felt like such a blur, it was also surprisingly clear. I was driving to see a movie with my mom when I got a phone call from my dad. I pulled over and he told me what had just happened… I lost it, screaming, crying, asking God why? And it still hurts to think about. But I also know God was right there with me in that moment and He still is today. He can handle all my sadness and grief.

Remembering Days Past

Nick and I were so close at one point in our lives. But I’m sad to say we had drifted apart as we got older with all the responsibilities of life and adulthood. We grew up together along with my other cousin, his sister. We lived only blocks apart for a good part of our childhood.

As younger children the three of us kids did so many things together. Shared birthday parties, holidays, sleepovers, and field trips. Entered parades together with grand floats and costumes. Spent long hours of make believe in the dark attic of their old house on Glass Street.

As we grew up, Nick and I became especially close in my early teens. When I was a freshman in high school, he was in middle school and him and I were best friends. We were nearly inseparable for a couple years there. We learned to skateboard together, traveled and camped together, went to church together, adventured into the woods and built fairy houses in my back yard together. Laughed and learned and spent all the time we could… together.

Those were good days, the ones I spent with my cousins. Our childhoods had a lot of pain, a lot of rough parts, and the friendship the three of us kids had was so important for all of us in those formative years. I know his loss has been life changing for both his sister and I and of course our parents as well. And while grief and sadness do change over the years and get easier to bear, there is still a deep set sorrow. But also an unending love that will never fade.

Dear Nick, I miss you brother. Life just isn’t the same without you in it.

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