Today is just another ordinary day for billions of people around the world. But not for me. Today I remember you, my brother. Even though it’s been 14 years since you’ve left, I still remember the day as if it were fresh. I remember the last time I saw you, the month before. I still feel the big bear hug you gave me, no inkling that there was anything wrong.
Fourteen years have passed. Life has moved on from that moment. It’s such a strange paradox- watching life change around me, yet knowing that you can’t experience any of it. Knowing that you are missing important milestones in our children’s lives. Knowing that you never met my youngest.
They’re old enough now to understand my loss. We talk about it. It’s been fourteen years- I have no problems talking about it. I have no shame in telling people how you died. But I am always left with questions. The Why? Why didn’t you talk to me? How could you look so happy on the surface?
I feel it’s important to talk about with others. People need to understand the impact that suicide has on the family left behind. The void that you leave. Hearing a song, or any odd thing will trigger a memory of you. How it’s impossible to talk about you in the past tense. How awkward it makes others feel when they ask me how you passed, and then apologizing as if they’ve stepped on my foot. People are always apologizing for your suicide. I’m always telling them that they don’t need to and that I am over it….
However, I’m not over it…not entirely. Your one decision has a lasting impact on those of us left behind.
I love talking to your son and telling him funny stories about you growing up. But I still tip-toe around your death. He’s such a wonderful young man now. So intelligent and sensible, and so shy. So different from you, but so many similarities. It’s weird how I feel guilty talking about the good times with you to him. Like I am teaching him curse words.
Our family dynamic changed. Our father is still at a loss. You weren’t around to help me with mother when she was ill, and even harder when she had to re-live your death after her brain operation.
It’s funny because your suicide has taught me to be stronger. When I am at my lowest point, I still won’t give in to those dark thoughts because I know what the impact will be on my family and friends that I leave behind.
So instead, today will be an ordinary day for billions of people around the world, while I sit and remember, going through old photos, upset that you aren’t there to go fishing with me or my kids. (Did you know that they both love fly fishing?) But I will not be ashamed, and I will not be bereft. Instead, I will be here to support others at their lowest points so that they don’t leave their friends and family behind to wonder why.
Dedicated to my brother- David Kraus ( 14 January 1980- 24 July 2009)