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Tragic Sibling Loss


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I lost my 18 year old brother on February 15, 2014.  Some girl my mom and I have never met came to our house and knocked on our door, asking if Ricky was home.  I was upstairs and didn't hear the entire conversation between her and my mom, but I came downstairs as she was hugging my mom and running back to her car in the driveway.  I asked my mom what I just missed and she told me that this girl heard of a maroon car in a bad accident on Sturgeon Point road (about 5 minutes from our house) and wanted to see if Ricky was home because he has a maroon car.


My mom called my brother and he didn't answer his phone.  I am the older of the two of us, 23 at the time and he was 18.  He had always been "babied" by my mom, although he would never admit it to anyone's face.  She would bend over backwards for him constantly, but had always given me a hard time growing him.  Her argument was that, "boys are different."  To this day I am thankful for that because she instilled a sense of independence and self-worth in me.  Also, knowing that she always did 110% for Ricky every day of his and her life helps elevate the pain slightly because we know he enjoyed life to the fullest, having everything he ever wanted his short time on this earth.  With all that being said, after this strange girl left our house, we knew something was up when Ricky didn't answer my mom's phone call to check in on him.  It was noon on a Saturday and he had left the house to go to one of his best friend's house.  He had just gotten his car out of the shop and it was his pride and joy.  He and his buddies liked to cruise and listen to music and go out to eat at fast food restaurants. My first thought was maybe he is driving but my mom knew something was wrong.


My mom called Ricky's best friend, Dan, whose house he supposedly went to when he left no longer than 20 minutes before this girl showed up at our house.  Dan was crying when he answered the phone and repeatedly said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, he was my friend."  This really got my mom worked up.  She started pacing and talking fast.  I told her to calm down, have a seat on the couch, and stay home in case Ricky showed up.  I got in my car and drove over to the intersection of Delameter and Sturgeon Point road.  There was one gentleman in a bright green jacket standing there and he told me he wasn't allowed to let traffic through.  Sturgeon Point road is a winding road and about 5 miles long, surrounded by trees.  I couldn't see any signs of distress or abnormalities past him and his volunteer fireman's car, so I turned around and decided to go to the intersection of Sturgeon Point road and Derby road.  All the while I was making this commute, I was unusually calm.  Now that I look back to it, it's almost as though I was too calm to the point where my body was just on autopilot.


At the intersection of Sturgeon Point and Derby Road, I saw three cop cars not allowing any traffic through.  About 50 yards from them was my brother's friend Mitch's gold Audi parallel with the ditch.  No signs of damage though.  About 50 more feet down, past Mitch's car, I saw about three fire trucks, ambulances and undercover/detective-ish police cars.  The cops told me there was to be no thru-traffic and find an alternative route.  I put my car in park, got out of it, walked over to the little possy of three and said, "my brother drives a maroon Lincoln and someone told me there was a bad accident on this road, I need to know what kind of car is down there."  The police offices said that they didn't know the details of the accident and were only instructed to keep traffic back.  I knew they were lying through their teeth.  They told me I had to move my car and it couldn't stay where it was idle.  I told them I wasn't leaving until they gave me information, especially because I could identify the gold Audi as Mitch's car.  The one officer radioed to someone at the scene, and an undercover cop car drove in reverse down to where I was standing with the traffic officers.  He got out of his car and approached me so calmly that it basically hypnotized me.  He gently touched my shoulder and asked me if my parents were home.  I told him I just live with my mom and she was home and worried and needed to know if Ricky was ok.  He guided me to my car and said to go home and stay with her until the officers arrived with further information.  When I replay this in my head, I don't know why I didn't panic.  I just assumed Ricky and Mitch (being the 18 year old boys that they were) might've gotten into some trouble and had to clear things up.  Maybe they were trespassing or hit a mailbox or something along those lines.  Not once did I think about losing my brother.


When I got home my mom was horizontal on the couch and she was white as a ghost.  She had the cold sweats and was breathing very heavily.  I got her a cool washcloth and told her that the officer was coming over to explain.  She was confused.  I told her he seemed nice and sincere and that we shouldn't worry.  I decided to pull out the laptop from under the couch just to waste some time.  I pulled up my twitter account and one of the most recent tweets on the top of the page was from a boy a few years younger than me, but went to the same high school as me.  He knew a lot of the gossip and was always the center of attention or doing the coolest thing of the night.  His tweet read, "RIP Ricky."  I read it once, read it twice, read it three times, and looked at my mom lying on the couch with the cold rag on her head.  This couldn’t be our Ricky, no.  I gently closed the computer and slid it under the couch.  I didn't say anything to her because I didn't exactly know what that tweet meant myself.  I didn't know many Ricky's in our area, but I think I would be pretty aware if my brother was no longer on this earth.  I'm his big sister; wouldn't I be the first to know?


About 20 minutes passed and two cop cars pulled in the driveway.  It was February and we live in Western New York, so there was a dusting of snow on the ground.  My mom sprung from the couch when she saw the officers arrive and ran to the door to fling it open so quick it almost fell off the hinges.  She was shouting at them before both of them had even gotten out of their vehicles, "where's my son, what's going on?"  I was trying to register all of this as it was happening.  Neither of these officers were the one I talked to in the undercover car.  Neither of them had my brother in the car.


They both walked into our house and she was begging them to tell her where Ricky was.  They suggested we take a seat at the kitchen table while they explained and she was pleading at this point, "where is my son?!"  There is no word to describe the sound that came out of my mom when the officer told her that he had been in an accident and didn't make it.

My mom put her head down in her arms on the kitchen table and began to sob and yell, “No!  Where is he?!  I need to see him!”  I definitely entered a state of shock/panic.  The officers had tracked slush/snow into our house all over the kitchen floor so I grabbed paper towels and got on my hands and knees and began wiping the floor because I couldn’t register what they had just told us.  The officers told us that they were sorry, but I knew they weren’t.  They would go on with their lives as normal; this was just the beginning of their Saturday at work.  They went on to explain that we could not see him as he was not transported to the hospital because he died on impact.  Still, none of this registering.  Now when I look back, I am glad things happened this way because I know he was grabbed right up into heaven.  However, my mom was aching to see her baby boy.  The officers told us that we needed to contact family because they are what we need to turn to during a time like this for support.


My mom is the second oldest of six siblings.  She has four brothers and a sister.  She lost her mom (my grandmother) about four years prior to this accident.  I was devastated losing my Nonnie and my mom devastated to lose her mom, she was only 63.  However, it is more of a norm to lose a grandparent than a sibling or child.  No pain could ever amount to this.  My mom made one phone call, to my grandpa and told him about the accident.  He contacted everyone in the family and within about an hour and a half all four of my uncles, their wives and all of their kids (my 12 cousins) were in our house.

It was somber.  It was like we took turns passing tears around.  This was the start of the longest week of my life.  Starting with planning funeral arrangements, to the wake and funeral and after, it all seems like a blur.  I was sick physically and mentally.  Today I look back on all of it, and find Ricky in the little joyous parts of my day, but miss him terribly.  Not seeing your younger and only sibling for 11 months is unimaginable.  When I say that out loud, I can’t believe it has been that long since we shared a laugh or a loving punch.  Eleven months without you, bud.  I can’t believe it until I remember that I have to live for the rest of my life.


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Such a tragic story and I'm truly so sorry for your loss. Losing a sibling is one of the hardest things to deal with. I lost my little sister just over four years ago, she was only 9 and I was 17 at the time and she died suddenly with no explanation or reasoning , but losing a sibling is so hard no matter the age or situation. I truly know how you feel and what position you're in being the oldest you feel a sense of responsibility towards younger siblings. I was a wreck the first few years and nearly screwed up my life because of it, I managed sorted my life out and got myself into University. But time truly is the biggest healer, you take it day by day and you do what you need to get through it. One fault of mine was to block it out and not speak about it with anyone.

You sounded like you two had a great relationship which you'll cherish more than anything in the world, so whenever you feel regret, or any sort of pain, talk to family, let your feelings out and don't keep it in as hard as it is to talk about at times. The pain never truly goes away and you'll always miss him, but you learn to deal with the pain, and turn it into positives and little joyous parts of your day like you're already doing which is already such an amazing step to take as it takes a lot of courage and strength to do that, so the utmost respect for you for that.

A brother or sister will always remain exactly that, when people ask I say I still have a sister because nothing can ever change or take away the bond that is there, and the thought of spending the rest of my life without seeing my sister again is unimaginable and very daunting at times, but they'll always be there with you. And as cliché as it may sound you must carry on and keep becoming a stronger person from it and carry on your life in their name. Everyday I fight for my sister and continue to battle through my demons, knowing that I must make her proud and not be a dissapointment to her. And I hope that's what you can do for your brother too.

I truly hope my message doesn't offend you in any sort of way, and my little bit of advice can hopefully bring you any form of help or comfort in knowing you're not alone and even on the darkest days, just know there is always hope out there and things will get better, and I'm sure your brother would've been so proud to call you his sister, just like I hope my sister would do for me.

If you ever need a chat about things or just a friendly face to talk to, feel free to message me at any time you wish. Take care of yourself and keep strong :)

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