March 4th, 2017

I keep replaying the day in my head. I keep trying to remember the worst day of my life. You would think it would be easy to remember, but only bits and pieces are engraved into my brain.

I’ll never forget the dreadful morning of March 4th, 2017. I’ll never forget hearing the panic in my dad’s voice as he called me the first time. He tells me “call hospitals and find your brother.” The next twenty minutes after the initial call, I will call two police stations and one hospital before I get the second call from my dad. “I’m on my way to pick you up.” Those are the only words he said during that phone call. I go to the restroom to wash off my makeup when the third call comes in. This time, my tia is on the phone and she asks to speak to my grandmother. “Okay. Okay. Okay. Oh my god. Gabriel” are the words that fall from my grandmother’s lips as she begins hysterically crying. My heart races, my stomach drops, and the tears start flowing from my eyes. I snatched my phone back from her and beg for them to tell me what happened to my big brother. I place my trembling hand over my heart as if I’m trying to ease the pain because I knew the next sentence I was going to hear was going to be painful. My dad, whose voice was incredibly shaky, says two words that changed my life forever.

“Gabriel’s dead.”

My legs became nonexistent. I collapsed to the floor and the only words that I could say “oh my god oh my god okay okay.” I wish I could describe the pain I felt. The way my heart physically hurt. The way it hurt to just breathe. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t think. In the background, I hear the woman I love most in the world crying hysterically because her only grandson went before her. I had never heard her cry before that day. The next thing I remember is seeing my sister. My brother’s twin. I had never seen my sister so broken. She dragged her feet over to me and all I could do was hug her. Every time I look at her, I see his face. I see his beautiful soul inside hers. I didn’t have words to say to her. My dad would scream at everyone because his only son had died before him. That night, I would stay up the entire night screaming into my pillow. Screaming because I was in so much emotional and physical pain that I couldn’t sleep. I finally fell asleep only to wake up a couple hours later. And let me tell you, when this happens, you sleep just to take a break from crying and you wake up to cry and hurt some more. After a couple days, I made the hard decision to go to his house and go inside his room. I sat inside of his room and sat on the floor in front of his bed and all I could do was cry. I sat there crying while refolding his already folded clothes. I cried hysterically, I probably looked absolutely crazy. Inside his things I found pictures that he kept of me, cards that I wrote him and everything that made my brother my brother. I was overwhelmed just by the scent of his clothes that filled my nostrils. And by the dorky comic book covers that he loved on the wall above his bed. I wanted to be surrounded by him. I wanted to be in the one place that he spent all his time in.

The next two weeks are a blur. His service came quickly. I honestly thought that I would be able to compose myself that day, but everyone who was there knows that I didn’t. While everyone stood in the parking lot outside before the service, I was inside, draping my body over his urn. I cried while I rested my head on top of his little box. My tears dripped onto it while I spoke privately to him. Words that only him and I will know were spoken. I think the worst part of his service was seeing so many people there. People who loved my big brother and were hurting because of his absence. Or even hearing the sniffles coming from the audience as I read my letter to him. Or watching the slideshow I made of him for the 100th time surrounded by the people in the pictures with him. I don’t know. But I do know that that was the second worst day of my life. You would never expect to go to the funeral service of your own big brother so young. Or him dying so young. He was only 24 years old. Just 24 years on this earth. Of those 24 years, 18 of them he spent as being the best big brother any little sister could ask for.

I wish I had words to bring some peace to all of you who are hurting. But I really don’t. All I could say is thank you for loving my brother and take heart in knowing that he loved you too. May my big brother live on forever and ever in our hearts. May your hurting hearts be filled with the memories of his amazing laugh and absolutely beautiful smile. And may the love that he had for you help you hurt a little less on the days when you’re really hurting.

To Gabriel,

I miss you more than I could describe. I hope you’re having fun wherever you are in this universe. I love you.

Till death does us dirty. 

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