Learning to live without you
National Sibling Day came cruelly on the 10-month anniversary of my younger brother’s death. I sat at my cubicle trying my hardest to avoid the Instagram posts, thinking about how it truly always would fall on this made up holiday — whether the 10th month or the 22nd month or the 70th month.
I was never any good at math, that was Kellon’s thing; but losing someone I’d known for 21 of my 23 years on earth made me quickly start doing math and attempting to calculate specifically when and why I would feel the worst.
How far away was his 22nd birthday? 33 days.
When was the last time I saw him? 165 days ago.
When would I have lived longer than his 21-year-old life? About 19 years from when he passed.
My mother called me on a Saturday evening when I had just finished working one of the better days of my career and changed my entire life. I shouted at her, I hyperventilated, I spoke the words out loud — something I would only do three times that entire week.
At some point on the most expensive flight I’ve ever been on to travel home to Jacksonville, I thought, “I can’t imagine life without him.” I’m sure many people feel this way about their siblings — they don’t remember meeting them, they were just there all along.
The realization that a majority of people in my life today never met my brother is something I reckon with every single day.
A friend asked me, “does it ever not feel real?” And I can honestly say it always, always feels real. But every single day I have to remember that he’s not here, and never will be. Whether it’s because I want to text him about LeBron’s annual departure from social media or I accidentally mentally plan a Christmas trip to Jackson Hole for us all to go skiing.
At first, the realization was always intense and needed to be unpacked — stepping out of my office to go to the restroom or pulling over to the side of the road to get through some tears. Now, I try to embrace the feeling because it’s starting to feel normal — but how could it be normal that my brother is dead?
I sleep in his shirts, put Kyrie Irving posters and Calvin & Hobbes art in my cube at work, hang his favorite purple tie on my mirror, make photos of him hiking my background on my desktop and pretend I hear him call me a little bitch when I want to quit doing pushups.
The tears come less frequently now, but when they do I want to live in them and keep them there because I know they only come so often these days — my parent’s anniversary, landing in Colorado, walking by a busy basketball court where boys look just like he did.
I miss you, Kellon. I will miss you for as long as I’m alive. But I’m learning to live without you. And that is cause for tears.