Since I’m closer than ever to graduation and a new chapter, I’ve been nostalgic in good way. I’ve begun to appreciate the past, for the good times and bad, and feel that I’m ready to move on. New place. New people. New me? My gratefulness for St. Andrews and my time here has made me reflect on how grateful I am to have had you. The worst parts of grief are over, for now, and I’ve been more optimistic than ever lately. 

In some ways, I do believe you were some kind of messiah, placed on earth to strengthen and unite various people and make us better along the way. Houston had it right. You lived your life like you would die tomorrow, everyday, and had done more in your 29 years than most people do in a lifetime. You did your duty to this life then it was time for you to go home to the sky. There are so many songs and movies that have come out since you left that I wish I could share with you. Dude, they are literally making a live action “Mulan” remake. It’s illegal we can’t see it together. Seeing “Yesterday” and not crying was a personal triumph.

There are so many people who have come into my life that I wish got the pleasure of knowing you. I hope to give off bits of your radiance through my never-ending drive to be like you. There are still so many topics I wish we could discuss. What do you think of the presidential debates? There are still so many things I wish we could do together. There are still so many milestones I have yet to reach that I assumed you would be there for. These will be hard, tequila and tears inevitable, but I know I can get through it. I will never get over the pain of losing you and I will never meet a day when you don’t cross my mind in one way or another. Nonetheless, I’ll persevere and do my best to make you proud. I’ll even try to entertain you along the way. 

Despite all the pain and confusion your death caused, it also made me grow to be better. I know that whatever is meant for me will always find me and whatever isn’t will leave or miss me just the same. I have faith in God’s plan. I believe in fate but rely on hard work and instinct, just like you taught me. I know you live in a better place now. One without pain, one without worry, and one where you can be with all your loved ones, living and dead, at the same time. One where you are loved, one where you are safe, and one where you can pull pranks on the living without any backlash.

You’re my personal ghost, now. I like to think. I talk out loud for the both of us now. I still miss you so much everyday. I will never stop missing you everyday. In my heart, I know you live on inside me and all the many people who love you so very much. I would give anything for you to be here with us today. I’d take having one leg, no vision, and no hearing if it meant that you could still be with me on earth. Put me in a different reality if it means I could be with you. But that’s not how my story is supposed to go. 

I genuinely believe that all things happen for a reason, and that your death, as convoluted as the meaning may be, was all apart of God’s greater plan. I have come to accept your death, fully, finally. For now. You are gone and I don’t have the power to bring you back. The only thing I can control in this matter is myself and how I act going forward. I am no longer crying everyday. I do cry most days, though. The tears that fall for you are mostly gentle flows of gratitude, remembrance, and longing. They mainly fall on occasions I feel you should be present for, times when I just need your guidance or humor to pull me through, and at the hand of warm memories I can’t ever turn away. The harsh tears still show up randomly too but not as often or brutally as before. Every now and then I scream out in pain, but perhaps am using the pain of losing you as a way to feel sorry for myself in a sort of emotional release. I’m selfish like that, I guess. 

Your death taught me that life is a never ending oscillation between the incredibly wonderful and the painfully awful. It’s never ending game that no one knew they began at birth. You fight off the first round of monsters, bask in the glory of their defeat, then another comes straight at you. But you have to keep going. You have to keep growing, in order to fight them. The hardships of the battles you face are always worth the joy of victory. No matter what happens, no matter how badly I want time to stop, life flows on. I let it. I go with it, even when it hurts. As for relationship heartbreak, I’m over it. Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m done wishing things had happened differently. That one week that I did was more than enough. There really are plenty of fish in the sea. I have faith in the universe that not everyone I’ll lose is a loss and not every character in my story is forever but the people meant for me will always find a way into my life. Sometimes, you even get lucky and lose a small mouth bass for a midnight parrotfish. Ha. 

Good things have happened since you died, things that wouldn’t have happened if you were here. Our family grew closer, I understand the value of love and life now, and I began to understand who I am and who I want to be. That is not to say I choose these things over you, of course not. But that is to say that life goes on and there are always rainbows that follow even the most destructive of storms. I’m listening to Kasey Musgraves’ “Rainbow” right now. Isn’t she so hot and cool? I know, I’m in love with her too. No, I don’t think she’d reply to one of your infamous Instagram DM’s. I know, Taylor Swift sure missed her chance. 

You were the rainbow of my life. You brightened up my days and made the storms worth enduring. I see your face in every rainbow I encounter now. You were the glue that held our family together. Then you died and you brought us together just the same. You were no longer there to be the glue and, despite Dad telling me “you have to be the glue now”, I didn’t. We all worked harder to hold our family of misfits together. We all became closer without you. Something was pulling us toward each other, an energy that you gave that no longer had a physical body to pull from. You were no longer there to arrange the family meetings, book the flights to family reunions, or to rally everyone you considered family together for dinner at El Fenix. But, as you disappeared, the love between us remained. We still wanted to spend time together despite you not being there to force these interactions onto our calendar. Your absence was replaced with a love that united us. We all became the glue. That’s a lot of glue talk. I’m done with that allusion for now. 

I know this is just a phase of joy that won’t last forever, the grief monster never stays away for long, but I want to write down my happy thoughts while they’re here. Ikey, thank you for being who you were. Thank you for being the best big brother, personal advocate, and life mentor that anyone could ask for. Thank you for teaching me everything you did. Thank you for making me who I am. Thank you for becoming my greatest inspiration. Everything I did, have done, and will do will forever be in your honor.

You’re still gone, but I’m okay now. I will be okay now. I’ll break down but I won’t be defeated. I can’t wait to see you again. I think about reuniting with you everyday and try to meet each day with excitement to give it my best and end knowing that I am one day closer to you. I hope you’ve already planned a welcome party for my arrival. Let’s dance all night to a strange range of music that only you could do justice. I love you deeper and more elaborate than the ocean, Ike. Here’s to you. **”Sympathy for the Devil” slowly begins to play in the background as I close my laptop**