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.



Dear Daniel,

This holiday/winter season, I decided to scale back my personal expectations and “hibernate”. It included a lot of sleeping, very few plans, and no social media. My priority was self-care: sleep, exercise, and a healthy (or healthier-than-previous-seasons) diet. And it worked. Typically the months of November & December feel like they drag on forever, but it felt like it went by faster than previous years (except for the one main holiday week). It’s still a tough time of year, but I’m learning how to make it more bearable. I miss you and love you.

On My Sister-in-Law’s Wedding

Dear Daniel,

I attended three weddings this fall/winter, including one for my sister-in-law which was the day before your birthday. I actually wasn’t worried about it because things had gone well for the previous two weddings. But I can remember the exact moment that triggered the meltdown.

We were brought in for family photos, and then I was told to get out of the current group photo so they could take a siblings photo. Her with her sister and my husband and his brothers all together. I felt my heart drop and a sharp pain in my chest.

I made it through the ceremony but left shortly after. Back home, I cried a lot and had an even bigger meltdown when I tried to find some of the cards you wrote to me and couldn’t find them. I worried I had thrown them away (turns out I just forgot where I put them and my husband remembered).

I’m still embarrassed that I couldn’t stay the whole time. I hate leaving events early because I’m struggling and wish they were easier. And I wish I still didn’t have to spend the rest of my life without you.

Further From You

Dear Daniel,

This year, I started feeling even further from you. Not just because I entered a new decade, but because it feels like I’m entering another phase in life. I’m further from the phase in life I was when you were still here. When you left, I was single, had just graduated college, and had an internship lined up in another state. Since then, I’ve started building a career, dated my future husband, moved a few times, adopted a dog, bought a house, got married, and now many relatives and friends I know have started their own families.

I know it’s just how time and life work. I can’t go back to how things were eight years ago (nor do I want to) just to feel closer to you. It feels like you’re slipping from my grip. And I’m afraid of you really being gone forever.

Year 8

Dear Daniel,

In the first half of the year, I struggled with a stressful, new job. I attended 2 major family weddings which filled me with anxiety. I entered a new decade and felt even further from you. For all my talk about wishing I could erase the memory of you, I had a major meltdown when I couldn’t find any of the old cards you wrote to me (thankfully, my husband remembered where I put them). It was one of my tougher years.

But not all of it was bad, and I have been working on turning things around for the past few months. The holiday season is becoming slightly more manageable (I think in large part due to better self-care and my social media hiatus), and I’m even excited for next year.

I will never stop wishing you were here. I love you so much.


Dear Daniel,

I decided to go on a social media hiatus for the holidays and deactivated my Facebook & Instagram accounts. I can already feel the increase in depression and anxiety brought on by this time of year, so being a little more disconnected from the world and a little more focused on my health and wellbeing will probably be helpful. Every year the holidays seem to get a bit easier, but the deep sadness from missing you never goes away. I love you.