Thursday, November 19, 2015

Happy Birthday

   Today you would have been 29. Last year on your birthday I got you some disc golf stuff. I almost got you a "starter kit"... I'm so glad I called you before I ordered it because apparently you were way past the starter kit stage of your disc golf hobby. You had some very specific discs that I had to order from a website that had a matrix more confusing than trying to register for online classes. And you were so worried to ask for something so specific. I am SO glad I didn't brush off your birthday last year. In the past, you were lucky to get a phone call. I have a lot of kids and a busy life, but I really wanted you to know last year how much we love you. And I didn't know how else to do that. If I knew it was going to be your last birthday, I would have flown out to be there with you. I think you went the movies with Nan and Mom? Mom made chicken parm, I'm sure. I wish there was a way we could have known.
         I miss you so much. My birthday was hard. I wanted to hear from you. I didn't think it would be hard at all, honestly. I was in Disneyland with all of my kids and my husband and I thought I'd be too distracted to think much about a missed phone call from you. But I woke up crying. Birthdays were the one day I knew for sure we'd talk.
         It probably sounds ridiculous to say that I miss you, when I know we didn't spend all that much time together to begin with. But I really had these visions of you moving out here, starting a new life. And us being best friends again. I grieve so much for what never got to be. The relationship I so wanted to have with my brother, but drugs stole, and never gave us the chance to get it back.
          We're going to have another baby. #5. I can't imagine what your reaction would be. I hate that this baby will live in a world without you. He or she will only ever know you in stories, and to her I'll have never had a brother. It's bizarre to think about, it really is.
           I am not entirely sure how the whole after life thing works exactly. But I know you're still around. And I hope you're having a happy birthday, wherever you are. I can't help but think it's probably hard for you to watch all of us here crying and missing you. I'm sure you had no clue how sad everyone would be if you were gone. It's got to be so hard to watch. But I hope there's some kind of magical happy heaven that you're hanging out in with Luke and Poppy (how do those two get alone anyway?) and you're having a good day, if they have days in heaven. Happy birthday little brother. Love you.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Look For The Miracle

I'm doing Sharing Time tomorrow in Primary (our combined Sunday School class for kids 3-11) and the subject is miracles.

It's 12:17AM and I should be sleeping. But my mind is racing about what to teach these sweet little children about miracles. I know God is a God of miracles. I know He gives them daily. But sometimes it's easy to see where He's being a little stingy with them. I am of course thinking about my brother, and wishing there could have been a miracle for him. It wouldn't have even had to be that BIG of a miracle. There is a drug that when administered to someone who has overdosed, literally starts their heart back up. It has saved thousands of lives. I have read crazy stories of people who have had this medication used on them twice in the span of a few days. Why couldn't someone have found my brother in time and used this medicine to save his life?

And here's what I'm learning. There's no good in looking for a miracle where you feel there should have been. Look for the miracle that God gave you. Through every single trial we go through in this life, God gives us a miracle. Sometimes we just have to look harder. If my brother's life had been saved, that miracle would have been obvious. Now that he's gone we have to look a lot harder for the miracle. Or miracles, as I believe we're experiencing.

The first miracle I was able to see through all this was that it was a police officer who found my brother. Not my mom, not my dad, and thank GOD not Nanny. Easily could have been anyone of those people, honestly, considering the circumstances at the time. And my dad was actually really, really close to where they found my brother.

The next miracle was a letter I received from my mom a few months after Jesse's passing. It said that she didn't care what religion I was, just happy I believed in God and that she was happy I was married to such a good man. If you know me, and know my life you can fully appreciate the magnitude of this miracle. If not, just take my word for it and trust me when I say this is huge.

And then just tonight I was at my husband's grandfather's 85th birthday party. Grandpa's health is not the best. As we all sang "Happy Birthday" to him tonight his eyes looked so sad, and it broke my heart. And for a moment I realized those who are "lucky" enough to grow old may not be the lucky ones after all. Not that I'm wishing early death for myself or anyone else, but my brother would have made a terrible old person. I remember him once telling me how scared he was of being old. How you go out of this world the same way you come into it, helpless. And he hated that. And I was thinking about we used to say "Jesse was never a baby". He really was like a toddler from birth. Obviously not literally, but he was just always on the go. Never very babyish. He was never a baby, and he'll never be an old baby... that sounds absolutely terrible. It's now 12:30 and I should really just stop. But I really want to make this point that I'm failing at miserably. But the fact that he's now in a better place, is really a happy thing for him. It's only sad for us that are left here to miss him.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dear Jesse,

Carly posted this picture on my Facebook wall the other day.
This was seven years ago. 
Jesse, what have you done?
What have you fucking done?
My kids worshiped you.
They love you so much, and we talk about you all the time.
Every single they night they ask for "Uncle Jesse stories" before bed.
Jess, I'm running out of stories.
 I'm running out of memories to share.
I've told them everything I can remember about you.
And that kills me.
I think I'm in a bit of the anger stage of my grief.
Because I hate you for not being here.
I hate that my kids will never make a new memory with you.
I hate that if I have another baby I'll never have another picture like this.
I hate that, when I first saw this picture my first thought is of what a great dad you'd be, and now you'll never have that chance. 
You would have been an incredible dad.
Your kids would have been freaking hilarious, and amazing, and the world needs your kids! 
I secretly hope that some day, some kid will show up on Mom's door step and claim to be her grandson.
Because honestly, I can only imagine what your kid would be like. 
And it's hilarious, and charming, and amazing, and all the wonderful things you were, that you couldn't see anymore.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Almost 7 months...

The past few weeks I've found myself overcome with grief, almost as much as I was in the beginning. In a flash I'll see my brother laying in that casket and I'm almost brought to my knees, the pain in my chest is so tangible and just so painful. Something, almost everything will remind me of him. And it all feels so unfair that he's gone. The world will never hear his laugh or see his smile again, and that thought crushes me.

But it's been 7 months... why is this grief resurfacing so strongly now?

As I pondered this, I came to a few conclusions. One, is that I've probably gone about 6 months without seeing my brother. We've lived the last 10 years on opposite sides of the country, but I still think the longest I've ever gone without seeing him at all is about 6 months. I think that, without really comprehending it fully, on some level my brain processed this. That this is the longest I've ever gone without seeing my brother. And that makes things sink in more, seem more permanent, more real... I don't know. But I think it's something.

I also think that when Jesse first died, I was so shocked, and it was so much to process that I couldn't wrap my mind around the drugs. I didn't realize my brother's problem was "that bad". And for the past six months my thoughts have been more about how he died. I've spent so much time on opiate websites, and researching drug overdose advocacy groups, that I haven't given myself time to think past that. It's taken my mental energy to just wrap my mind around the fact that my brother was using heroin. Now, seven months later I've finally processed that, I think my brain is allowing me to process the fact that he's really gone.

Another thing is that I keep myself pretty well distracted. Well four of those are unintentional... living with 4 young children is a great distraction. Any time I'm sad they're immediately there trying to cheer me up. Especially my 3 year old little boy. He hates to me sad, and I can see the concern in his eyes. He'll ask me, "Does that make you happy, Mama?" after he does something sweet. Which I can totally picture my brother doing to my mom, and that breaks me heart all the more, but I just smile and nod and hug him, and try to blink back the tears that threaten to pour from my eyes at any moment. Then there are distractions that I form myself, like social media, and reading... I think as long as I give myself time once in a while this is okay.

Part of my grief now is also for my family in NJ. Knowing they're struggling and I'm so far away and there's so little I can do. My heart just aches for them.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

First time going back home

I live in AZ, and my family lives in NJ. I just happened to be in NJ when my brother died because we were visiting for the holidays. This last few weeks I went back to visit.

It was so much harder than I thought it was going to be.

I hadn't mentally prepared myself for how hard it would be to walk into that house and not get a hug and kiss from my brother.

And now everything is so... different. No one talks about you anymore, Jess. Our dad has put you into that part of his brain where he keeps everything that's too hard to talk about. Buried deep in that painful part that everyone's afraid to touch because who knows how he'll react.

It's been too hard for anyone to go through your stuff, so I got to do that while I was there. Opening the door to your old bedroom and seeing those bags... those bags had to go. They're the last physical thing from that day. I emptied them all onto the bed and began sorting all the stuff you had in your car. I tried to fight the twinge of guilt. You had all this crap in your car because you took it out of your room so I'd have space to stay with the kids. All your clothes, books, hockey stuff, and a shop vac?? So much stuff that the detectives thought you lived in your car. The detectives said when they found your body you had no cell phone or wallet on you. They thought you were probably robbed after you died. I couldn't believe that. I went through every single pocket, emptied out every bag sure I would find your wallet and phone. But I didn't.

Someone robbed you while you were dead or dying.

This is probably commonplace in Newark.

It makes me sick to my stomach.

So many people OD and are brought back by Narcan. I hate to think that someone saw you, and instead of trying to help, calling 911, and possibly being able to save you, they just took your stuff.

All $500 worth of your dog grooming stuff is missing as well.

They left the disc golf stuff, which I took and plan on putting to good use. I'll feel like you're with me when I play.

I miss how stupidly excited you got about stuff. Like disc golf. You were just so enthusiastic about it, it was infectious. I miss that so much. You were like that about everything. Passionate, funny, and infectiously enthusiastic about the most trivial things. I'm so sad for my kids, not having you around. There was never a more fun uncle.

I keep trying to think of how you're still here, but it's hard to have that much faith when it hurts so much. I used to dream about you every night, but I haven't now in months.

Our family is falling apart. Mary seems okay, but I know she's a mess just under the surface. Our mother still cries every single day. And we're just trying to go through the motions of this life, but it will never be the same. I want to do something to keep your memory alive, to share your story, but the grief paralyzes me.

Did you see Billy died the same way? Hope you guys are hanging out together again, while your moms are crying together. His girlfriend had a baby a week after he died. He looks just like Billy. Such a roller coaster for his family, but I can't tell you how jealous I am. They get to have a little part of him, they get to experience the joy of watching a baby grow to help soften their grief. I hate that we'll never get to see a Jesse Jr. There was so much happiness left in the world for your to experience. I know you felt like you couldn't be happy without drugs. That breaks my heart. And I wish I knew how to help other people who feel that same way.

Well, it's been almost 6 months and I don't know what else to say. It still sucks. I have no desire to go back to that very sad house any time soon. You are so missed, Jess. So missed.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Nothing chokes me up faster...

Than knowing these hugs will never happen again. My kids LOVED their uncle so much. 
These pictures aren't the best, but they capture those genuine smiles and I can just feel the love my kids had for him, and he had for them whenever I look at them.

These pictures were taken exactly one year ago.
Mind boggling what can happen in a year.
I never, in a million years would have thought this was our future.

Yesterday my oldest was turning this calender I have hanging on the wall back to December. She said, "Look! It's December! Let's go tell Uncle J to NOT go in his car today!"

She was half laughing, being silly, and completely unaware of how much I have wished that we could do just that every day since January 2nd.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


   I honestly still can't believe it. Even as I type this the tears flow freely. I try to go on with my day to day life, but my heart is still so broken. Why didn't you come out here? August, it was August when you called and said you were going to come visit. You have no idea how excited I was about that. I called my best friends and told them. I immediately called Aaron at work to let him know. I even told my mother in law! I thought it would be so great. The kids were so excited. The infamous, loved, crazy, silly Uncle Jesse was going to come to their house. But then you didn't. August came and went. September, ya coming? Yeah, yeah, I'm coming. Just figuring some stuff out first. October. My birthday. Come back from NJ with me after I come out for my birthday. November. Your birthday. Come celebrate your birthday with me and stay for Thanksgiving. December. Come out, and then fly back with us when we go out for Christmas. And then you were gone, January 2nd. Gone.

My heart breaks for the relationship we never got to have. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you more in high school. I wish I tried harder before it got to the point that you were shooting up heroin. I wanted to be part of your life, but I had to get away from that life. Please understand, I had to. I couldn't stay there and be healthy. I feel so much guilt for having moved away. I worry so much about our sister. I don't think anyone loved you more than she did. I don't know how I can possibly try to be there for her the way you were able to be.

It's so surreal. It's so unbelievable. I keep replaying our last conversations over and over in my head. Talking about Poppy. Talking about Daddy. I wish we saw each other more this trip. I wish things weren't so horrific between you and our father so that you could have come over more. Was staying at Nan's what made it harder for you? When did you start using again? If there was anything I could have done, but didn't, I'm sorry. If there was ever anything I did that got you to that place, where you were doing this, I'm sorry. I thought that I did enough, with my texts, my letter, my phone calls, but maybe I could have done more.

I am going to try to help other people. I want your memory to live on forever, as a warning to others. I don't know where to start with that, but I want to. If you could somehow give me a hint or something, I promise I'll listen.

I made a reddit account. I'm on there every day now. I wish I had looked at this before you died. Then I'd actually have something to talk to you about. TIL that this year's pie is extra special because it will be 3.14.15 .. 9:26 5.35... it will be more pi-ish. That stupid stuff, I just wish we could chat about.

It's just so sad. The thought that you'll never have children. I'll never see you as a dad, a husband, you're already gone, your life is over... I really can't wrap my mind around it, as hard as I try. If I have another child, they'll never know you. Mary's kids won't have an Uncle Jesse in this life. It's so incredibly heart breaking. I don't know the point of typing this out. I don't know if it's helping me or not. But I don't know what else to do, and I really miss you.