The song ruling my inspiration: Better Love by Hozier.

It’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it?

I’m sorry it’s been a while. If you want to know why, let’s get real for a minute. Life has been a shitshow for me since 2021.

Almost two and a half years ago, my older brother passed away suddenly. Before this, I was the master of time. Always organized. Always on top of everything. Perfectionist in every regard to a detriment.

When my brother passed, part of me died with him. I haven’t been the same since. Losing someone like that does things to you that are hard to put into words, and hard for people who haven’t been through it to understand. Not by a fault of anyone, it’s just… There are certain things that are nearly impossible to comprehend unless you’ve been through them.

March 19th is a day that I relive over and over again. My life shattered beyond recognizability. So much of it changed in an instant, and for someone who thrives in order, consistency, and little change, losing such a big part of my life made the rest of it collapse in on itself. Not to say I’m not trying to heal. I am. The thing with grief is there’s no timetable. No expiration date. No hard set time limit that says I’ll be okay again.

I’ve tried. I’ve read the grief books. I’ve gone to counseling. One of my grief books I haven’t been able to get through. It’s called “A Grief Like No Other”, and damn, does it feel like one. I can hardly pick up that book without crying and it’s odd. For some reason, I’ve attached my ability to move forward to that book. As if reading it might grace me with the healing power I always had but didn’t know about. It’s absolutely silly, but perhaps my love of books has spread now. I’m so desperate to find anything to bring me back to who I was before that I base everything off one book.

I guess I’ve realized that’s the problem. I want to get back to a person who isn’t here anymore. I can’t be the same after my brother’s death. No amount of healing will allow me to be the same. If it did, it’d mean I didn’t love him much. His death had no impact. But it did. I loved him, and still love him, endlessly.

My brother was only a year and a half older than me. We used to call each other our ‘twin’. He may have been born first, but people constantly mistook us for twins. At camp. At soccer. At stores. Perhaps the most jarring realization of how much we looked alike came in the form of a gender swap Snapchat filter. I looked exactly like him (only with hair. He shaved his head), and he looked freakishly like me. We showed the pictures to our parents who both said, “where’d you get that picture of your sister/brother?”

It was more than looks. Both strugglers of depression and other mental health problems, we were no stranger to dark days. Dark thoughts. The odd thing was, we could always feel it when the other was having a bad day. I could be laying in bed sound asleep, and I’d still wake up and think “he’s not okay”. I’d quickly text him and he’d respond in a second, saying “our twin connection told you I needed you”. It went both ways, and it went on for years.

The day he died, I woke up at the very moment the coroner estimated his time of death.

Going from a connection like that to nothing destroyed me, and I’m still trying to put the pieces together. So I’m sorry I’ve been absent. I’m still not whole, and not being whole means I burn out faster. As fun and exciting as publishing IASAD was, I kind of threw myself into it to avoid dealing with the pain of grief and by the time I got to the finish line, my brother’s birthday was less than two weeks away. Then the anniversary of his death was less than a month away. Then my oldest friend I’ve had since I was five years old betrayed me and shattered a lifetime friendship. Not only that, but I’m now less than two months away from turning the age my brother did when he passed. And three weeks after I turn that age, I’ll be older than him.

You’re not supposed to get older than your older brother. This is a date I’ve been dreading and as it approaches, I forget more and more how to breathe. It’s like this invisible barrier I’m afraid to cross, though I can’t tell you why except that it just really fucking hurts.

Life hasn’t slowed down, and I haven’t been able to manage the pace until now.

But I’m here now, because I refuse to continue letting life trample me. I realize that beginning part of this post was depressing as hell, but it’s not all doom and gloom. You know what else happened in the last couple years?

I bought a house and moved out of the ghetto placed I lived where people ran around with axes, machetes and guns. I gained another niece. I held the top-seller position at my gallery for several months in a row. I published a freaking book. My discord channel grew and with the new members came amazing friendships. Now those girls are the bright spot in my day every single day.

And while this next one sounds like it’s going to be sad, I promise it’s bittersweet with a happy twist. The devastating loss of my brother prefaced a loss of someone else’s brother. Someone I also cared for deeply. He was my printer for all my aluminum photography prints, and he died in a similar fashion my brother did, about 5 months after my brother. They were one year apart in age.

I sobbed when I got the automated email after I’d just sent him one asking about a new order. Then when the automated email that informed me the family business was shutting down for a couple weeks because of this tragic loss, and I saw it was signed by his sister and father, I couldn’t help but reach out. I emailed both, and I emailed his sister separately, expressing my heartfelt condolence at her loss and how while I can never understand her pain specifically, she’s not alone. I too know what it’s like to have your entire world collapse with two little words: “He’s gone”.

That email I sent blossomed the beginning of a friendship I didn’t know I needed. She responded once she’d returned and the business was running again, and it was history since. We’ve exchanged phone numbers. We’ve cried to each other. We’ve consoled each other with music like this. We’ve shared the pain and expressed frustration at how insensitive some people can be with a loss like this because the truth is, they don’t know what to say. No one does. Because no one is supposed to die that young, and you’re not supposed to get older than your older brother. But she just did turn older than him a couple months ago, and because she made it through I know I can, too.

So one friendship lost, but another gained. T is my lifeline right now, and although I wish neither of us had lost our big brothers, I’m so unbelievably grateful for her and the beautiful soul she is.

Did I mention I published a freaking book? Did I mention that book is almost up to 200 reviews on Goodreads and almost 100 on Amazon? Someone pinch me. I swear I’m throwing a freaking party when I reach those milestones.

Oh, but you know what else? One of my awesome patrons/discord girlies/friends asked this amazing voice actor to say a line from “Never” from my man, Thaddeus. Or as he’s known on Patreon and discord, Thaddy Daddy 😏. So here’s the link for that and just remember… It’s, uh, ahem, very well done. I suggest headphones and/or being alone to listen. Enjoy 😉

Now as usual, I’ve gone on too long. Though I love all of you that made it to the end 😉 I want to conclude on a story about my brother, but I promise this is an uplifting/funny one.

My brother was one of the only people who knew I was actually making a career out of writing. He was always the biggest supporter in all my creative endeavors. He was the one I texted at three in the morning the night before my interview at the gallery where my photography now hangs. I still remember that conversation vividly, and it means so much to me, I have a piece of it fixed to my desk so I’ll never forget what he said to me.

He said I was brave. While I was sitting there feeling stupid because I’d already given my notice at work without a for sure slot in the gallery, he said I was brave. “I wish I had the balls to do what you’re doing. It sounds stressful as fuck, but if it wasn’t stressful it wouldn’t be exciting. You’ll be fine, I know it. Try to get excited for tomorrow, it’s an opportunity in more than one way.”

Then he sent me this to cheer me up before my interview.

So that’s all I got for now. If you made it this far, thank you, you’re awesome, and I hope you get all the books on your wishlist 💜

P.S., my page is acting up and won’t let me put in a title.

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