My Current Option

Dear Daniel,

My goal has been to become happy, enjoy life, and be able to think about you without feeling pain. I expect to feel a dull sadness perhaps, but not pain. But I still can’t immerse myself in any memories of you without feeling anguish. I even tried working on it in therapy for the past couple sessions, and it was a mess. The only option I really have right now and for the foreseeable future is to compartmentalize you. Suppress thoughts of you when I can. Pretend like you didn’t exist. And it’s so shitty because it’s not what I want but what I have to do to keep living my life.

On Letting Go

Dear Daniel,

For the first time since your death, I was happy to celebrate my birthday. And then immediately the next day I sank into a deep depression for a week. I thought I was at a turning point in my healing, but I found that letting go of the last bit of grief didn’t go so easy. It feels like letting go of part of my connection to you. In therapy, I said I know that letting go of my grief for you doesn’t mean I don’t love or honor you, but maybe some part of me doesn’t fully believe it. I think it’s why Mom isn’t trying as hard to heal or move on. I’m not saying she hasn’t done anything, but I do think she holds herself back. Subconsciously I guess I’m holding myself back, too.

I just want to be happy.

Your Best Friend Got Married

Dear Daniel,

This weekend, Dad, my husband, & I attended your best friend’s wedding. Mom couldn’t handle it, and I don’t blame her – it was hard for us. It was hard seeing his best man give a speech instead of you. It was hard hearing “Better Days” by the Goo Goo Dolls during the mother/son dance. But the hardest part of all was the slow, steady onslaught of your old friends who would come up and say hi to me and Dad. I probably haven’t seen them since your funeral, not that I really remember. I know they were doing it out of kindness & respect. They wanted us to know you’re still remembered, even though we didn’t actually talk about you.

For what it’s worth, I wasn’t sad the whole time and your friend looked incredibly happy. I know you wanted to be there. It sucks that you weren’t. Sometimes I can’t believe we have to continue living life like this. I love & miss you forever.

Milestones

Dear Daniel,

I called one of your best friends to wish him a happy birthday. We talked about the imminent arrival of his second son, and he had to leave soon to pick up the first. I’m happy for him, but I felt sad after the call. Would you have a kid on the way by now? What would our life have looked like now, almost 10 years later? I wish I didn’t have to wonder. I miss you and love you so much.

Baseball

Dear Daniel,

I remember trying to get into MLB so I could have more things in common with you & Dad. I miss joking about the Yankees with you. Recently, I saw an article that Derek Jeter was getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. I didn’t even read the article, it doesn’t really matter anymore. A lot of things we used to share together don’t matter anymore. I still miss you, even if I’m not writing as often. Love you always, and more than you ever knew.

Year 9

Dear Daniel,

It’s hard to assess my progress this year, because it was a year unlike any we’ve experienced before. It’s weird living through a global pandemic. I had less social anxiety from less social gatherings and less work anxiety because I quit my stressful job at the beginning of the year. I’ve had more time to take mental health days when I needed them and sleep or relax. I’ve had less depression funks and less panic attacks (but they’re not completely gone). No airplane anxiety because of no air travel. Quarantining with my husband (my best friend) and my dog has actually been really nice. I sometimes feel guilty admitting that, for me personally, it’s been a better year than last year. I know it hasn’t been for most.

I still wonder what life would be like if you were still here. So much life has happened in only 9 years. You are still so missed and so loved by me, Mom, & Dad.

On Facebook, pt. 2

Dear Daniel,

It’s been almost 6 months since I went through Facebook and saved every post I wanted to about you. Today I’m finally taking screenshots of all of them (unfortunately exporting didn’t work, so I have to go through hours of your memory again) so I can delete my account for good.

Lots of old, painful feelings have resurfaced. Feeling permanently broken. Feeling like nothing matters. Feeling like I’m losing you again.

I remind myself “this will pass, you need to move forward”. This swell of emotion is not forever.

Even with all this, I still think you were an amazing brother. I miss you and love you.