My heart still aches for my big brother eight years later
I am a twenty year old woman with a happy and full life. But my heart still aches for the brother whom I lost almost eight years ago.
He was not my biological brother - but we had grown up together just like real siblings. Our mums had been friends and I'd known him from when we were both babies. When my parents divorced, my dad married his mum and legally adopted Sean. I was six years old and Sean was ten. My childhood was spent playing video games with Sean, watching movies our parents said we couldn't watch, stuffing our face with lollies from the corner shop and playing outside.
I lived between mum and dad and so Sean and I had a friendlier relationship then a lot of siblings as we didn't see each other every day and as such didn't fight as often (Not to say we didn't fight at all - there were some epic arguments!)Sean being older then myself acted as a sort of role model. To me he was the epitome of style and coolness. Cheeky and good looking, he charmed people easily with his beautiful smile and was very popular in school. He was a free spirit and caused a lot of trouble in his teenage years - one memorable incident had him expelled from school for stealing the groundskeepers ride on lawnmower and taking it for a joyride through the school corridors and classrooms. He was a public nuisance one day and the next he'd be helping an old person in their garden or defending a bullied kid. He truly was a complex and often confusing individual. As we got older we had a bit more in common - we both had a large group of friends who would all gather at our house and we socialized together often. He did typical nasty older brother things too - coming into my room and announcing "Guess what?" Only to fart loudly when I replied "What?" and then run giggling out of my room. Pulling up next to me and my friends in his beat up junk car and shaming me by asking "Wanna ride in my flash wheels bro?". Oh he was a character!
As I grew older and began to mature, boys began to notice me more. Being the typical older brother protective type, Sean didn't like it much and watched any boy in my social circle carefully. I was thirteen when I had shyly confided in Sean about my first official boyfriend. Sean sat me down and told me, in a rare moment of seriousness, to be careful and to know I could talk to him if I ever needed someone. Then reverting back to his more typical manner he told me if the guy broke my heart, Sean would break his nose.
That same year when I was thirteen years of age and Sean was seventeen he was in a car with four friends. The driver fell asleep at the wheel and the car crashed from an 8 ft cliff. The car hit water below and my brother was trapped inside, unable to escape. He drowned, as did all the other occupants of the car. The tragedy was massive and sent the community reeling. That day I had been staying with mum and heard a news report that four unidentified teenagers had crashed their car off a cliff and into the swollen river below and my heart froze and I began to scream. I KNEW. I knew it was him. My dad arrived later that day, eyes red from tears, only to confirm what my intuition had already told me. Sean was gone.
The time afterward is a bit of a blur. I remember lots of faces and the funeral (Open casket) the sight of my beautiful brother, lying there so still. I remember my father and stepmother hardly acknowledged me, nor did anyone at the funeral. I remember being asked 100 times how my stepmum and father were holding up. No one asked me how I felt. One particularly unfeeling person told me I couldn't be suffering any kind of loss as we weren't biologically related. I wish that person could have seen into my soul, for to this day it has been ripped into pieces, and Sean took part of it to heaven. I never felt complete again after I lost him and the pain after his death was like nothing I could ever comprehend. I just lay on my bed and wailed and went over and over in my head every argument, insult or bad look we had ever given each other. I obsessed over how I hadn't told him recently that I loved him, how we hadn't spent as much time together and how I would go on in my life without my protector, my best friend, my brother.
A string of further family deaths after his sent me reeling. I lost more people I loved in that year then anyone should lose in a lifetime. None hit me like the death of Sean had, probably because he was young and it was the first significant death I had suffered. Not that I loved the other people I lost any less, but somehow the death of a sibling is a different kind of grief to any other, something that is closer to the heart.
The consequences of Seans death have been far-reaching. Between the ages of 13-16 I wore nothing but black and lost myself to the oblivion of drugs, party's, boys and alcohol. I suffered major depression. I was never able to recover the person I had been before Seans death - a sweet, innocent girl who loved pink, listened to pop music and giggled about boys. I grew up quickly, hardened by pain and the rejection of my father and stepmother (My presence caused them too much pain after Seans death and I have little contact with my father, none with my stepmother) I fear the loss of those I love irrationally and I am susceptible to stress, nightmares and anxiety. The rejection of my father and stepmother has been particularly difficult and also made me feel quite bitter towards Sean for awhile too.
My life turned around when I was fifteen. I met a wonderful man who cared enough to listen to me and to love me. We have been together for five years now and engaged for three years and we are planning our future together. I gave up my self-destructive behavior when I met Connor, because he gave me back my strength and showed me that loss is inevitable, but that love is stronger - stronger even then death. He taught me how to love and laugh again and showed me that I could be happy, when I thought Sean had taken the best of me with him. With Connors support I matured into a strong independent woman and I can say now that I am truly happy. I have a beautiful home, a job that I love, good friends and a wonderful man to share my life.
Not a day goes by where I don't miss Sean or think of him. My throat aches with tears sometimes and milestones in my life are always bittersweet for me, as I always think of how Sean never got to do this, or I wish Sean was here for this (When I turned eighteen - officially older then Sean, Christmas, Anniversary of death, getting engaged, and shortly my 21st birthday) Sometimes I still feel him with me, particularly when I am with friends or lots of other young people, having fun, feeling relaxed and happy. It's almost like he's drawn to the atmosphere and reminding me to be happy and not to take life too seriously. I have felt him less and less over the years as I have been feeling better and I believe he is standing back and letting me test my own strength. But he is always with me, for I carry him in my heart.
Interestingly, I recently suffered a horrific car accident of my own in which my car was totally destroyed. My back wheels slid out of control, sending me hurtling sideways into oncoming traffic. I knew that I was not going to be able to bring the car back under control, but it was like I was being guided. I saw a field lined by tree's and just diverted toward it to avoid being hit by the oncoming traffic. My reasoning was if I hit one of the tree's, well better me on my own then if there was an accident involving someone else and they were hurt too. I braced myself for impact, but the car miraculously shot through a gap barely big enough for it between two tree's. The car went airborne and landed in the field. I was bruised, but otherwise unhurt. I sat there in a total state of numb shock and of course Sean came to my mind. I heard him clearly in my mind saying "Not you too." Perhaps it was coincidence or just luck, but the person who witnessed the crash and stopped to help me remarked I must have been doing some serious steering to avoid hitting a tree. I told him I had a guardian angel.