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randrea

Two months after I turned 15 my only brother took his own life. No one in my family saw this coming. My brother had just finished his first semester of senior year in high school. He was captain of the football team on one of the best teams in the state. Had scholarships for football, track, and academics to multiple colleges. Had enough college credits to be a sophomore in college and had the credits and requirements to graduate high school completed. My brother was not the first person or idea someone might have when you think of suicide. He was not depressed, he didn't suffer for a long time and then come to the decision. No, he made up his mind in mere hours. A few hours earlier he had been reading his bible, having a quiet time. He made a list of food and hair products he needed when my parents went shopping. Then, on that Saturday night on January 9th 2016, my family went to church so we could take my older sister back to college the next day. My brother didn't sit with us and left before the service was over. As I got home with my mom we saw his car and my mom went upstairs to talk to him. My dad and sister were at a store getting last minute winter clothing because it is cold in Iowa and Nebraska, my sister went to Nebraska Lincoln. I heard screaming coming from upstairs and ran up to find my mom holding up my brother, trying to put slack into the rope he used to hang himself. I had to be the one to call 911. Then, I had to call my dad and my sister to get them home. My brother wasn't breathing. The first responders didn't give up though. His heart beat came back. 

 

As we arrived at the hospital family friends began showing up. News got out. Hundreds of students showed up, wanting to see him. The hospital broke so many rules, allowing non family members into the ICU room to see their captain and friend. I say my brother died on the 9th, but he stopped breathing on his own in the evening on Sunday the 10th but was not pronounced brain dead until 11:55 AM on Monday, January 11th 2016. To my family, my brother died the 9th. He might have technically been alive, but he didn't wake up, there were no more good memories past the 9th.

 

My brother was known. When news spread, the news wanted answers. My parents began to speak out about what happened, urging people to speak up and talk to someone before it is too late. My brother became an organ donor and so far has been able to help 190 people around the country and world. He even was honored on the Donate Life Rose Bowl Parade Float in 2018.

 

It feels weird because my family tries to talk about organ donation and the good that it has been able to do in so many lives, but it still feels wrong. Sometimes I feel like a horrible person because even though I know people lived because of my brother, I'd rather have him back.

 

This past year has been incredibly difficult. I just went through my senior year. The first part of the year was fine. I was doing everything my brother had already done. Then second semester started and I was doing okay. Then March 22nd happened. That was the first time I really began to fall apart. I had become older than my brother. Then prom, which already was not fun because people are stupid. As the horrible music was playing I became overwhelmed and went off to the side and began crying. My brother didn't love dances, but it didn't matter. Prom marked the first big activity that I began to do that my brother never got the chance. Then I went to senior nights, I went to awards nights for my activities. Then I walked across my graduation stage. Something my brother never got to do. I am a theatre kid, I love theatre. It was within my speech team that I was able to write about my feelings. About all the missed opportunities and that I never get to have. That 15 years was not enough despite great memories. That I can't go to his wedding, know who he would marry. He doesn't get to meet my future husband, see what I do with my future. That any kids I might have, will only know him through pictures and stories. That is all my brother will ever be. Some of these feelings are hitting hard again as I go off to college. Something he should have done before me. 

 

Losing a sibling is never easy. But knowing that I still have 70 or more years of living without him kills me daily. The hardest part though is not losing them it is the days, weeks, months, years after that kill you a little bit each day. No one knows how to talk about it, they still treat it like a horrible topic. As if speaking his name will cause me more pain. People don't know how to react and so they don't bring it up. And even if I am the one who brings him up because I want to talk about my brother and share with people good memories, they shut it down because they don't want me getting sad.

 

If you are a christian and you are reading this, I just ask for your prayers as I am going into a hard time as I look towards college and a future I get to have that my brother should have reached first.

 

Thank you for reading, let me know if you connect.

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