Oh Max, my little brother – I know I wouldn’t be here writing this post on this blog if what happened a year ago didn’t. I am grateful to be able to be here, writing and sharing, and I have learnt so much this year, I have grown up fast and I have become so strong. But I would drop all of it, swap everything, lose all of it, if I had a choice for your passing to be delayed until when it would have come naturally. To continue to grow up with you, for you to be an Uncle, for us to continue strengthening the amazing brother-sister bond we had. I wish that you are still here and living a fulfilling, gratifying, beautiful life that you deserved. But you aren’t.
And christ, nothing comes close to the pain I feel without you. It is so empty in my chest, yet so tight and heavy. As if I have a huge gaping hole in my chest, whilst still feeling as if everything is bunched and tied up in knots around my throat. And it’s so very prominent today, and the elephant on my shoulders is 10 times heavier than normal.
You were one of those golden souls – the ones that light everyone up in their vicinity. You had an incredible knack at making everyone feel at ease. You listened. You really, really listened when people spoke to you, and you granted people your full attention.
You were hilarious – you had so many funny quirks about you. Your little head jerks, the sidewards glances we would share with each other, your fantastic multi-patterned shirts, your funny little noises, the way you always snuck up on me and gave me frights.
You got on with everyone that you met. We always had something good to say about you. always the same – dedicated, witty, hilarious, gentle, calming, caring, generous, pickly.
Everytime you had me over you always cooked such lovely food for me – it feels so strange to think that one year and 3 days ago, you cooked me spaghetti bolognese. 1 year and two days ago, you picked me up and we buried Lily, your hamster, together on Clifton Downs. 1 year and one day ago you came over for a cup of tea and you weren’t yourself. I said goodbye and shut the garden gate and had the strangest feeling. 1 year ago today I had a splitting headache and couldn’t get hold of you. One year ago tomorrow I went downstairs and saw that I had 22 missed calls. The phone rang in my hand and I got the most horrifying news of my life. No one was in the house and I spent an hour on the staircase home alone in a silent daze, wretching and staring at the wall until Luke came and sat with me until mum and Steve came to take me back to their house.
It is so hard for me not to replay every single moment, comment, event, action, look or thought that lead up to that horrible phone call. I have done it a thousand times this week.
I’m sorry you didn’t get into the RAF. I’m sorry you lost your love. I’m sorry you broke your wrist and I’m sorry that Lily died. I’m sorry that all of these things happened so close together and I’m so sorry I didn’t understand the depth of your sadness. I’m sorry I didn’t see, and I’m sorry I was so wrapped up in my own problems.
I remember being about to get out of your car outside my house after we buried Lily and looking you in the eyes and saying ‘see you soon’ and ‘please call me’ and I held on to you and I held your gaze for longer than normal and your eyes were darkened. I sometimes wonder if that delayed you, if you knew that I knew something was wrong.
Either way, I wonder if we had delayed your passing before, many times. We will never know. We will never have our closure. We have to create it on our own.
It is very difficult to be a grieving sibling. People my age have generally not experienced this level and intensity of loss and grief. Adults go straight into asking how my parents are doing. On top of this, sibling grief is almost entirely overlooked in grief literature. Yet we have lost someone we have spent our entire lives with. It sometimes gets heavy and overwhelmingly lonely. And lonelier without a brother.
Max, I feel you around a lot. I see you in foxes, I hear you laughing at me when I say something stupid, I feel the sidewards glance we would share at some of the things Mum says. I feel your presence when feathers and wish seeds fall into my lap when I am sat outside. When an animal comes particularly close and holds my gaze for minutes. When I’m somewhere we got drunk together. When I am somewhere you loved.
I miss you so much. We all do. You are so, so very, very loved.