Tomorrow is my brother’s 20th college reunion. Sort of.

He didn’t graduate due to his untimely death by auto in the third month of his freshman year.

We attended the same school though I graduated in May, before his September.

Though I’ve blunted myself to much of the past 20 years as they relate to the aftermath of his demise, it seems that he left a serious imprint for the short time he was there.

I’m often overwhelmed by the magnitude of how others were affected by his loss.

I’ve learned there will be a memorial gathering for him at the reunion this weekend and have been asked if I wanted to write something to be read aloud.

My survivor’s guilt trips me up in moments like this. What do you say to people when they are supposed to be celebrating?

“Hey, it’s been 20 years but please make sure you stop and interrupt your joy on his (and our) behalf?”
“Please don’t forget! Please don’t forget!”
“Hey, it’s Debbie Downer here. Just reminding you that while you guys got on with your lives my brother didn’t?”

I feel like an imposition. I shouldn’t, I suppose.

My mother has spent the last 23 years devoted to a scholarship fund at the university and maintains an intimate connection with the administration. This is what’s kept her going.

Legacy has fed the part of her soul that is in perpetual starvation for her lost child.

I’ve shied away from all of it as I struggle with an irreconcilable conflict of interest. I love the place and I hate the place. What was once a source of great joy is forever tarnished by great pain.

I suppose this is true for his friends and classmates, as well. My blunted-ness has interfered with my ability to recognize our shared experience of joy and sorrow.

Cue Khalil Gibran.

What to say? What to say?

I think I’ll keep it simple.
Thank you for showing up.
Thank you for remembering.
Thank you for sticking around for all of these years when you didn’t “have” to.
Thank you for being willing to take time out from your happy to visit a few moments of sad.
Thank you for contemplating our beloved.
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