Letters to Chris. August 16th. Day 130

Hey Buddy,

Just got back from a walk with the pups. Crazy to say I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. Honestly, I actually can finally say I have more good days than bad. I cry…but not every day. I’m sure this is a relief for you (it can’t be fun having a big sister crying. ALL. THE. TIME). I laugh a lot, over stupid little things. I’m making plans (we are traveling a lot in the next few months). I’m actually motivated again. I mean, I still have rough patches, but I can say that I’m actually living for the first time since you died (although seeing that word still messes with my head. Died. I hate that word. It’s one I struggle to associate with you).

We have been having a lot of visitors the past month…Dad a couple weeks ago, Clay’s Mom this last weekend (we went on a five hour horseback ride through the mountains. I haven’t ridden since COLLEGE. I can’t tell you how good it felt to get back on a horse. Ironic that I tell you how much I miss horses and in the space of a month I get to hang out with some and then ride), then Clay’s cousin is coming to town this weekend and Court and Cory the following. It has been an awesomely busy time. But…tonight has been rough. I listened to my “Chris Playlist” while walking around our neighborhood (just songs that remind me of you), and it brought me back to the days right after you passed. Over four months ago. It’s so weird to think you’ve been gone for over four months. It’s something I just can’t wrap my mind around. (Seriously, how the f*ck am I still here after all this time?) I also watched clips of home videos I had taken with my phone while home.  One of my favorites is the one of you snowboarding in our backyard with that little board you got for Christmas. I have no idea how you were able to do that…this board didn’t even have bindings. There’s no way i could have stayed on like you did. You kept falling, and I could tell you were getting frustrated. But you kept at it! It was, in a word, adorable. This explains an entry I had found a book of yours from fifth grade where you wrote about different experiences. The one where you talked about was snowboarding:

“Snowboarding was hard for me, but I managed to learn it. I kept trying until I stood up and did not fall. It is easy now and I don’t fall as much now…’sourt of.'”

I love your misspelled “sourt.” Hey, man it makes sense. I mean, court/sourt. I get it. I had thought you were making up a story…I didn’t remember your snowboard. God, you would have loved to board here. I would give anything to have taken you out on the mountains here like you wanted. You would have rocked it. Given what I know now, I would have flown you out, no questions asked. Just bought your ticket and said, “Come.”

But I guess hindsight is 20/20.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the last year. It’s been a hellish year, but one where I’ve experienced more personal growth than any other time in my life. From our startup business going from extremely successful to failing, moving in our friend’s basement (which we were so grateful for, or else we would have had to move back to Missouri in defeat), things up until March of this year had sucked. And then your death, which I would have lived in a hundred thousand basements and gone through a hundred thousand failed businesses instead of enduring. I have to believe things are going to get better now. I mean, nothing will compare to losing you. Nothing. And things are better, for the most part. We have successful jobs. We have our own apartment. We can travel again. Most importantly, everyone is healthy. But I find that everytime something feels perfect, it’s still marred. Like the other day, Clay and I were sitting on the couch with the puppies. It was storming outside and I was drinking tea, thinking about how cozy it was. But it was all wrong. Because I was covering up with your huge firefighter blanket, which I shouldn’t have. And there was that ever-constant ache in my chest that I don’t think will ever go away. I know there will be a day when I’m just happy without exception….but it’s not yet. For one, I feel like I shouldn’t be happy. Not yet. I know that’s not what you want. But it’s just the way it is. I was talking to a friend the other day (we had actually found each other online through a suicide platform on Reddit, of all places). She had lost her brother 2.5 years ago and said that she is finally happy again. She can laugh again, feel joy. But it took a long time. And I think part of it for me is just waiting for something else bad to happen. It’s like, if you could die what else could happen?

But then I realize something. I am surviving the death of my little brother. His suicide. If I can survive that, I can take on anything. Anything. I had a bad day Monday. Bad interview, parking ticket, I got yelled at by a biker. It was literally one of those days where you go back to bed because, OMG, what else is going to happen? But it hit me that none of that was a big deal. None of it mattered. In the entire scheme of things, it was a great day. So I guess you gave me perspective.

Thanks, I guess?

I’m learning I can survive anything that comes my way. I am so much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. Who knew?

I’m f*cking Wonder Woman.

Love you, Bud,

Jenn

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