Where’d you go? I miss you so. Seems like it’s been forever that you’ve been gone. Please come back home…
In memoriam of Brian Palacios, Bunloy Sybunroeung, & Gabriel Carpio.
In the last year of my life, I’ve done a lot of growing up. Not because I wanted to, but because I had no choice. Grief is a long, painful, and confusing process that I did not expect to go through during my first “official” year of adulthood. I’ve grown a lot since the beginning of last year.
On February 12th, 2017, I got a phone call from my dad where he revealed to me that Brian Palacios had died that morning. My heart dropped. My chest hurt from the amount of sadness that suddenly filled my entire body. I cried to my dad. I cried to my girlfriend. I watched as he grew, and he watched me as I grew. Brian Palacios was a beautiful soul, who has a beautiful family. When I see his two babies, I see his face and soul inside of theirs. When I see his wife, I see his joyful spirit. If you knew Brian, I think we could all agree that the first thing that comes to mind is that amazingly huge smile of his. A smile that even the heavens could’ve seen. My heart still hurts at the thought of never seeing him again. His family is my family & we are theirs.
The last text that my brother and I shared was 4 days before he died. One of our last phone calls was the day that Brian passed away. Gabriel called me to ask about Brian, Nadia & their kids. “He’s the first person that I know to pass away and I’m really bummed out about it.” I started crying to him about it during that phone call. This loss was and is heavy to our family. I think about Brian every day. & I’ll always remember that beautiful smile of his.
Gabriel passed away just 20 days later. Two of the heaviest losses in the shortest amount of time. I often think back to these couple of weeks…. when I sat at the back of Brian’s service to sitting in the front row of my brother’s.
On November 19th, 2017, Bunloy Sybunroeung lost his battle to colon cancer. Early in that year, he was first diagnosed. When my girlfriend told me the news about her grandpa, I knew we were in for a hard year. When I think about him, I remember the smirk that he so often had on his face. His death was so hard to deal with because we were all there when he took his last breath. It’s a difficult thing to understand, even as an adult, that someone you love will someday take their last breath. During the weeks following, I watched as something amazing happened. His family gathered together, they smiled and laughed. Although they were sad because he was gone, they were happy because he didn’t have to suffer anymore. They were happy because they were in each other’s presence doing exactly what he would’ve wanted. From the Sybunroeung family, I was shown the lighter and brighter side of death.
No words can truly express how difficult of a year it’s been. Three families. Three deaths. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. Sometimes we will never understand God’s purpose, sometimes we want to scream at God for taking away those we hold so dear to our hearts. But I do know that God has a purpose for all things.
Above all else, I’ve learned a very valuable lesson. Tomorrow isn’t promised. Tell the people that you love that you love them. Value your friends & family. They’re all you got. Nothing can take away the pain that so many of us are going through now, but we have each other. & we have the memories of our loved ones that no one will ever be able to take away from us.
Every time I close my eyes, I see his face. I close my eyes to see his face. I close my eyes to remember the memories that we have. I close them so that I can go back in time and relive the moments that I often took for granted because I never imagined what life would be like without him. I always knew there would be a next time. I always knew that we had a tomorrow. I never anticipated losing him suddenly and without warning. I expected us to grow up together. I expected him to get married, to give me nieces and nephews. I imagined my own kids loving their uncle unconditionally. He would be the one to teach them their first curse words, he would tell them about the times he used to torture me by sitting on me.
And in a matter of seconds, in a matter of minutes… everything that I assumed would happen in our lives was changed. He won’t be there to see my kids born. My kids won’t know their uncle. I won’t have nieces or nephews from him. And I won’t be able to see him get married to the woman he loves.
I close my eyes to imagine all these scenarios in my head. I close my eyes so that I can see the life I wanted to have, a life alongside my big brother and sister. I close my eyes so that I can see my brother’s face and hear his laugh echo in my head. I close my eyes because I don’t want to accept the reality of never seeing him, never laughing with him, or never hearing his voice ever again.
You were my hero, Bubba. I hope you knew that.
“With all the memories that I got,
What I’m missing, I’ll keep reliving.”
I have been haunted by the curse of dreams. My dreams have become an alternate world, where I dream of my dead brother being alive and breathing. Where Gabriel is an omniscient being. In the good dreams, I get to talk to him like I used to and embrace him in one of his big bear hugs. These dreams feel worse than the nightmares. The good ones leave me disappointed when I wake up because I remember that he’s dead. I remember that I dumped his ashes into the vast blue ocean. In my nightmares, I dream of the same thing every time. I see my own brother get hit by car after car and I can’t do anything to help him, but scream and hope I wake up from it. I watch as he just lays there in his tiny car not moving, I watch as the officer pulls up to the scene and tells my brother to keep breathing, to keep fighting. But my brother leaves his body. I scream at him to not leave me here on earth. But he doesn’t hear. I can’t do anything to save him.
I miss him. I miss my big brother more than anything else in this world and I would give anything just to have the chance to have a hug goodbye. He left this world suddenly and tragically and he left behind two sisters that needed him more than he probably knew. He was the first man I loved, he was my dad. I just wish I knew the last time I saw him was going to be the last time. Or that the text I sent him a week before the accident was going to be the last conversation we would ever have. This is the worst pain I’ve ever felt. A pain that I know I’m going to feel for the rest of my days until I join him. Being strong is hard. When people ask how I’m doing I usually say that I’m okay or that I’m doing good, but the truth is I’m not. I’m emotionally and physically stressed, down about 25 pounds since the day he died.
Yes, I have my good days. On these days I don’t think about his death, but of the laughs and jokes we used to share. The bad ones, I just want to curl up and lay in bed all day. I don’t have that luxury though because life goes on even if I don’t want it to. It’s a frustrating truth that I don’t want to accept. I think it’s okay that I feel this way. I keep trying to control how I’m grieving, but the grief has a mind of its own. I guess I just have to go with the flow.
As for today, I will cry for him and my chest will physically hurt from my broken heart….. and that is perfectly okay.
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.
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.
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.
First of all, yes I’m gay and I guess this is me coming out to the world. I’ve known my entire life and I was scared to admit it to not only myself, but also my family. I finally came to terms with who I am my sophomore year of high school. My freshman year, I cried myself to sleep most nights because I was scared of being myself. I grew up in church, knowing that being gay was going against god’s word. And just because I’ve accepted myself now, that doesn’t mean that I’ve disregarded God in any way. I love God and I know he loves me. Society has painted this picture of the LGBTQ community as being the ultimate rebels against God. But why is my “sin” greater than yours or anyone else’s? Just know that I’m the same person you’ve always known I’m just being completely honest with you now. However, I know a lot of you aren’t going to like reading this and are going to try and tell me how to go about my life. But, this is my life. And I’m not ashamed of who I am or who I love. So either deal with it or don’t.
Then Calysta came into the picture. Most of you all know who she is because she’s on my Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. She’s the reason that I’ve finally come to terms with who I am. No words can describe her significance in my life. And before all you close-minded people think that I started dating her because I’m going through a mid-life crisis or whatever, we were dating long before my brother passed away. Unfortunately, my brother never got to meet Calysta. However, he would’ve loved her. I first told my sister about her. My sister was supportive and really wasn’t phased. My grandma wasn’t surprised at all, she was supportive and loving. My brother was excited for me. He continually asked about her over the phone and was genuinely excited to meet her. Due to him being a workaholic and never having time, they never got to meet. And that pains me so so much.
Calysta is a beautiful soul. She’s loving and caring and honestly is the most beautiful person inside and out. In those aspects, I see Gabriel in her. She lives life to it’s fullest like him and loves just as much as he did. I could go on and on about her. I wish you could all know her like I know her. I know her greatest pains and her greatest joys and everything in-between. She is everything that I’m not and that’s why we work so well together. She’s the first person I called after I got the call that my brother died. She’s been there every step of the way with me through the worst weeks of my entire life. And she brings me so much joy and fills my angry heart with love. She’s been so patient with me and my grief. My grief is a roller-coaster. I’ll have my good days and the next day I’ll be absolutely terrible. And she sticks it out. God blessed me with the perfect person to help me deal with my loss. Her heart is full of love and joy. This barely scratches the surface of who she is. She’s just so absolutely beautiful and I want the world to know. I want the world to meet the wonderful young woman that’s not only my best friend, but my girlfriend. And she’s going to be around for the rest of my life. Her name is Calysta Rodriguez and I am so so deeply in love with her.
Hello world, I’m finally doing something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’m going public with my writing. Sit back and enjoy the ride because it’s going to be bumpy and crazy. Everything I write will be my honest, raw, and uncensored words.
By now I’m sure the entire world knows about Gabriel. Everyone knows his ending. The crash that ended his life. The crash that ended mine and my sister’s. No words can really describe how I feel now. No words can describe the anger, confusion, and sadness that fills my heart. No one knows our sadness. No one knows how my brother was more than just a brother. He was a dad, a best friend and everything in-between. And I love him with every ounce of my soul. I miss him with everything that I am. I see him in my sister’s face when I look at her. I see him in my own reflection. I see him in the clouds, in the flowers, in the sunshine. He’s everywhere all at once. In split seconds of the day, I forget that he’s dead. I forget the crash. I forget his ending. Then, I’ll see the picture of him and I on my lockscreen. Then, I’ll see the link to his Go Fund Me page on my favorites. Then I’ll remember. I’m angry. I’m beyond angry at the world. I’m angry at everyone who talks about their brother. I’m angry at the four other people involved in the crash. I’m angry at God. I’m angry that God decided my brother’s time was done. I’m angry that I can’t call my brother anymore or hear his laugh. I’m angry that I can’t hear him tell me to smoke and drink more like he used to. I’m angry that I’m able to talk about him in past tense. I’m just angry. In a way, i’m angry at my brother. I’m angry that he left me here. He left me here without my big brother. I feel kinda silly being so angry at the world, but I am. I’ve never been so angry at anything before. I’m a happy person, usually. I’m the person that’s always smiling. But, the happiness and smiles feel like a foreign friend to me at this time in my life. I’m not sure how to feel about anything anymore. All I know is is that my brother is dead and I’m alive. Everyone else is alive except my brother. And honestly, that’s unfair considering the crappy life Carina, Gabriel and I lived. Gabriel was at the peak of his life. He was living life to the fullest. He was happy and loving his friends that he lived with and his coworkers that he worked with. And I’m so sorry that all his friends lost their friend. And I’m so sorry that all of you who are hurting with us lost someone that you love. Why did Gabriel, out of all the people in the world, have to die?? I don’t know. But I do know that I’m the luckiest little sister in the world. I scored the best big brother in the universe. And I can’t wait to see my Bubba again. I wish I could still live this crazy life alongside you Bubba, but I guess you can watch from wherever you are in the universe. Save a spot for me. I love you.
For my big brother. Who raised me and loved me like his child and his little sister. Until we meet again.
In Honor of Gabriel “Badfish” Carpio.
January 26, 1993- March 4, 2017