I lost my big brother when I was 13, then 23 years later I lost my sister.
(Saint Peters, MO)
I lost my big brother when I was 13, then 23 years later I lost my sister. Mark died when I was 13. He was a gay man, and he died of AIDS related lymphoma. It was a brain cancer that took him down a degenerative path. He died at home on April 29, 1990. He was 27 years old. I suffered a great deal of grief and heartache. I felt like no one understood my pain. My friends in school compared my loss to them losing their great-grandfather or something of the like. It had such a huge effect on me that for the many, many years that followed, my life felt like two parts: before Mark died, and after. I remember every time I heard or saw a date, I related it to how long it was before or after he died. I felt like my mom was so strong, but I wasn't. I watched how hard it hit my dad. He was never the same. It changed me forever, but in some ways for the better. My sister and I were all each other had. We didn't always see eye to eye on a lot of things, but we never let anything come between us. We always said if people knew what it was like to lose a sibling, they wouldn't let piddly stuff bother them, and they wouldn't take their siblings for granted. We had an even stronger bond in my mind, because of what we went through together. She was 12 years older than me, so she filled many roles: another mother, friend, sister, partner in crime. And on March 30, 2013, she was taken from me too. She suffered a brain hemorrhage due to a ruptured aneurysm on March 11th. She was in a coma for two week following, and then after doctors advised us that she would not get any better, life support was removed. She lived another week, and she died in my arms at home. I held her so she wouldn't be scared. I learned that watching someone die is not necessarily peaceful. Their bodies fight it to the very last breath. I wanted desperately to hold on to her forever. But, I watched her die. She was 48 years old. Now it has been almost 6 months, and I still feel somewhat paralyzed. When I think about her, I go through so many emotions all at once. Anger, sadness, a hurt that feels like true physical pain. And since it's been a little while now, I feel like everyone else around me has just totally forgotten about it and has moved on with their lives. Why am I stuck still feeling so bad? And all of the canned answers people have that are meant to be comforting, like "She's in a better place..." are really starting to get to me. I truly appreciate thoughts and kindness, but how does anybody even know that? I know- faith... Right? And I don't want to question that too much, but bottom line- I want her back, I want the pain to go away, and I know that's impossible. And seeing her die brought up feelings of watching my brother so many years ago. What I wouldn't give for him to be here with me to help me get through this. I'm the only one left now. I can't help but feel alone sometimes, even though I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. I find myself hiding my grief from them, because I don't want my kids to see me upset, and I want to be strong. I don't want them to worry. I get up every morning and go to work, continue my other family obligations too, and I put on a brave face. But really, on the inside I am shattered. And there's nothing anyone can do or say to change that.