My University career is on a fast track to the finale and it hurts my heart to think that there’s another wave of change heading my way. I just got used to life without you but my life is changing and I’m going to have to cope with your loss in a new place and around new people. I wish you were here to tell me it will all work out and let me know that it will all be okay as long as I work hard and stay true to myself. Since you aren’t, I have to keep telling myself. Not the same, but my only option.

I’ve spent the entire week in the library trying to finish a research essay I sure could use your help on. I’m writing about how the modern day pillars of social media were born and used throughout the Protestant Reformation. I discuss Martin Luther as the first viral celebrity and you would hate some of the comparisons I’m drawing. Martin Luther and the Kardashians in one sentence, a historical offense. I like the topic but the last thing I want to be doing right now is an essay. You aren’t here to keep me on track so I’ve gotten quite creative with my various forms of procrastination. I even started a blog all about you, believe it or not. Who would have thought that over 800 people would read my published journal within the first week? Wack, I know. Too personal to share online, I know. Too late. 

In every bit of downtime my mind plays memories and thoughts of you. I accept these visions gratefully. You’re so easy to remember. It soothes me to remember you were here, now that I’m not violently crying at the recollection. I surround myself with people who are open to discussion on the dead whenever you cross my mind. Man, have I got some theories on life after death. I miss you more as I go through life and experience more things I wish I could share with you. It’s like you’re on a drawn out vacation. Time to come home now, Ike.

I miss you too much. I feel your absence so deeply. I’ve come to terms with your death but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever be okay with it. That doesn’t mean the hole in my heart is any smaller. That doesn’t mean that I will ever stop wishing you were here. It does mean that I understand that you weren’t meant to be here forever. My life was always meant to continue after yours and I have to keep living it. I am grateful for the time we had. I am grateful you were my brother. I’m grateful that you were here for 22 years to make me who I am and to show me what I should be like without you. 

I find myself latching onto people who feel like home. Even though I know it’ll never be home again, a chunk of these people are Texans. Olivia and I discuss you all the time. Poor her, I should be paying her for therapy. We are some of the last few with deadlines left and find solitude in each other through library breaks filled with gossip and cigarettes. Yeah, you heard me, my nicotine addiction has flourished into straight tobacco. Yes, I’m still trying to learn how to properly inhale. No, I am still not buying my own packs. Olivia and I always wish we could snapchat you, outside the library with cigarettes in hand. You would snap us back immediately with love and necessary judgement. We both miss having you to edit our papers, even though you often read them aloud to your sixth graders as examples of what not to do. We laugh knowing how you would react to us smoking and procrastinating and find peace knowing that you’re in the little rays of sunshine that keep us warm amid the Scottish breeze.

The other day, I had my landlord read my tarot cards. She mentioned that she would love to do a reading for me and urged me to let her know what questions I’d like answered. My mind immediately went to you. Despite my life being rooted in uncertainty, you’re the only question I want answered. I want to know how you are. I want to know why you died. I want to know if there was anything you wanted me to know. She said she had never done a stack focused on someone in another realm, but the cards will show what they want me to know. She did a celtic cross spread and, with chills, told me she couldn’t wait to explain it all because the cards had powerful messages to tell me. Apparently she cried as she laid them before her. 

My landlord took me through every card placement and its meaning. Rather than bore you with the details, I’ll share the synopsis she gave at the end: The connection we had ran deeper than the ocean. Our relationship made me who I am and is central to my self-identity. My relationship with you may be the strongest bond I ever have with another person. I can’t live my life in a way that losing you paralyzes me from going forward. I’m about to set off on a journey that will help me to understand your death. I’ll gain perspective. I have great adventure coming my way. I have many options and numerous roads to success about to present themselves to me. The way I understand people and perceive the world around me is my superpower. I have to let my creativity and kind nature drive me through instinct. I must be weary of my own strength, not all pain should be private. I can’t fear letting people in. Vulnerability and strength can co-exist. My life is all about moving forward. I must have faith in myself and move forward through hard work and decisions. Not making a decision is worse than making a wrong one. You will be with me always but my life is about me and not you. 

Pretty cool, right? Much more positive than I was anticipating. Although it didn’t answer the questions I put forth, I am comforted by this bit of wisdom. After all, from what I can see, the cards are right. You were the most important person in my life but you were not and are not my entire life. My value and importance aren’t diminished because you are gone. You made me who I am, I will forever try to make you proud, but I will not let your death inhibit my life or keep me from moving forward. The irony in this all makes me laugh. The further I am from the heart wrenching, broken into a million bits, waves of pain the closer I am to appreciating your life, the closer I am to gratitude, the closer I feel to you. 

I choose to celebrate you through my life. I’ll keep moving and taking life’s twists and turns as moments of growth through hardship. I’ll keep moving but I’ll never forget where I came from, the people who have been there through it all, the people who were there for a time, the places I’ve been, and you. I will never forget you. But, like my landlord told me, this life is about me. I’ve got to go live it.

The more life I live, the more I am learning that we all are a little broken. We’re all a little bruised, and we all have our own stories, burdens, and experiences. The more I live, the more I learn that it’s often those things that can make us the richest and truest forms of ourselves. It’s the sufferers who have learned to rise after intense brokenness who are the most beautiful people I have met in this life. It’s the ones who know despair and who have channeled it into strength and purpose who make this world brighter. I hope to be one of them.