September 25, 2014
Lessons from the Small
Today we took a drive for the first time since you passed. I was scared of what it would feel like without you in the backseat, but it was beautiful. Today I saw you in hills capped with green. I saw you peek through the trees in glints of gold. I watched you roll through the fields and shake the branches of the trees. I watched you high up in the sky as the light sank and the colors rose up. I saw you in golden glazed clouds, and then I pictured you in the backseat. If only that last vision were real, or maybe it was. I saw life as more than what I’d taken it for. I saw you break all the limitations that ever held you back in this life. I’m happy for your freedom. I just hate our separation. I love picturing you free. I see you standing tall; walking, running, jumping, talking clearly with infinite expression. You can do everything you couldn’t, everything you could ever imagine, and then some. I just want to be there to see you be all that you are. I will never be able to express my love for you, or my love for every moment we shared in my 18 years. I loved all of it, I relished in every second, you were absolutely everything and I never it took it for granted; it was all so wonderful. It’s just not enough. Our time just was what it was. There’s nothing I could say I should have changed, and no matter what I think I could have changed, I would still be left with not enough. I guess that’s just loss. I would give anything to hug you one last time. I guess for now I’ll have to wait. You are my best friend, my rock, a teacher, and the greatest gift of a brother. I love you so much, Ian. Love, Sissy.
I lost my older brother, Ian, on May 17, 2014, to a sudden brain Aneurysm. On that day I lost everything. I became empty, as everything I once knew was shattered. The past summer was a journey to my center self. I questioned my entire life and existence; the good, the bad, and all of the people and events in between. I came to one conclusion; I am everything and nothing; deep and shallow; I am as much of a mystery to myself as I am to the strangers that pass me by; I am a sculpt of everyone I have ever met; We are nothing but each other, and without each other, we are nothing.​What I learned from my brother was that it’s not our lack of control we have to worry about. It’s what we do with what little we have. Ian was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder; a form of Autism where his mind would never advance past the stages of a toddler or young child. He was also diagnosed with Epilepsy and Cerebral Palsy in his legs. Growing up, I watched my brother go in and out of doctors’ offices and hospitals; as horribly painful as it was watching my brother struggle to survive and gain any sort of independence, most of my memories from growing up with him were us laughing and smiling. He could hardly speak, he was slowly losing his ability to walk, he had to swallow a mountain of pills twice a day, and was never without a new medical struggle; yet he always managed to peek though it with a smile. His body was a cage, yet he was constantly blissful and ready to explore what was in front of him. Just like the glints of gold streaming through a darkened cloud; there was my brother; the happiest person I knew. ​​He had such a glow; a little glimmer that came through in his big blue ocean- speckled eyes. He also hated crying, and would throw his cups and bang his hands on the table when he’d see me cry, which was always a good incentive to stop. When we’d sing together, he had perfect pitch, and his laugh rang like bells. For someone with Autism, he had the greatest sense of humor, and was even sarcastic at times! But most of all, he was this gentle giant with an unimaginably large heart. He was such a beautiful person, with such sad circumstances. Ever since I learned that my brother was different, everything I did had him in mind. I helped my mom take care of him every day, and we never gave up on him. Since I never had only myself to think about, I learned that it’s never just about me. There is no room for self-absorption.​​​​​​​​I think about the final days when he was on life support when I sat by his bedside in the hospital. Stroking his face; tracing the outline of his profile. I memorized every detail. His smooth milk skin; the shape of his nose; his sculpted cheekbones and tranquil disposition; wondering how he could possibly be gone from that beautiful shell. I kept retracing my steps the night before May 14th, the day we took him to the hospital. How perfect it was. How trivial it seemed. How could I have let such a beautiful night go by without a thought? How I should’ve relished in every last moment. Those last hours were everything. Then I replay the words of the Doctor in the consultation room telling us “Large bleed in his brain, can no longer breathe on his own. There’s nothing more we can do for him” and the final punch, “He’s gone.” over, and over, repeating my own screams in my head. Losing Ian was my by far my greatest fear. I feared losing Ian more than losing my own life.​​​​​​​​​​​​I was powerless. Ian was powerless. I couldn’t reach him. He was right in front of me, warm hands and all, and I couldn’t find him. He was gone. There was no magic or medicine that could give me my brother back. Nothing truly belongs to us. Nothing is ever permanent. What we are, what we create, our possessions; our own bodies are not our own. Whatever we can’t control, we cannot possess. We have these strings that tie us together like a web. There is a responsibility we have to the world around us. It doesn’t end when we stop breathing, or when we experience loss, or when we simply have no inspiration. We are constantly putting ourselves into the universe with every footstep. What we do in every waking moment counts. Not because we need to live life to the fullest, but because we owe it to our existence. ​​​​​​​My brother was ripped away in an instant. The life we had and the life he left me with are worlds apart, but I’ll never lose his essence, or love or that passion and fire that drove me to fight for us. Above all, he was my greatest teacher; his never-ending acceptance, and kindness, and ability to look beyond the lines, over the walls, and through those clouds that darkened so many of his days. He taught me to do the same, and to share that with the people around me. We resonate with everyone. We send out a vibration and the world reacts to it. We have this powerful effect on our environment in ways that we can’t see. We have no idea how important we are. What we do is vital because our marks on each other will stay with the Earth till the end of time. The truth lies in the beginning and ending of each life. When the people around us are ripped away, we find out how meaningful this whole life is. Not just how meaningful they were, but what instrument we ourselves play in everyone else’s lives as well. Our purpose isn’t who WE are going to be. It’s who we are going to be to OTHERS.