Letters to Chris. 3 Years Later.

Hey Buddy,

TAPS calls the day you died your “Angelversary.” I kind of like it. It’s better than the alternative. Today is the one day a year I dread. I hate it. I basically hate the entire month of April because of today. So, Happy Angelversary.

Can you tell I’m a bundle of joy today?

I can’t wrap my mind around it. How has it been three years? I remember the first few months were the slowest of my life. Every second seemed to drag by. It was all I could do to keep breathing. I did, though, because I had no other choice. There’s no way to go but through, right? The decision you made three years ago today is not one I could, or would, ever repeat. I don’t have it in me, but I’ve also seen what it does to those who love you, and how could I ever do that to those who love me?  It’s funny though, because in so many ways you felt so close. Maybe because you were. The months after you passed were filled with signs from you that you were okay. That you are okay. Those signs, those unmistakable times you reached out, are what got me through. Thank you.

What also is funny is, I can’t remember crap that happened only yesterday. But I remember every single minute about April 8, 2017. Going to Starbucks. Shopping at Whole Foods and looking for ingredients for a curry recipe. Watching Shameless until Clay took the dogs out that night. And then every second of when he walked back into the apartment talking to Mom. Realizing that something was very wrong, and thinking that something happened to the dogs or Dad. And the sound of her voice when she told me that, no, everything wasn’t okay and that you had shot yourself. I remember falling to the floor screaming. It’s all ingrained into my memory. The day I want to forget is the one day I can’t.

I took today off. I didn’t know how I was going to handle it. It’s so hard to know how I’m going to feel. I had taken your birthday off, but I did okay. I Facetimed Nikea and Mom, and there was a lot of laughter. Especially because Mom couldn’t figure out how to get both our faces on the screen so had me up on her laptop and Nikea on her phone. Then would hold the phone up to the computer so Nikea and I could see each other. Thought you’d get a kick out of that. Then we cooked ribs since that was one of the two birthday meals you had requested Mom make for you when you came home the last time. Total meat coma. Then a few days later we had Papa Murphy’s for you.

Happy belated birthday.

Today is different. Part of me was hoping it would just be another day. I obviously always miss you. You’re obviously always on my mind. You don’t dominate my thoughts and emotions like you did even a year ago. I guess my life is as back to “normal” as it will ever be. But fuck today. It’s rough as hell. I feel so broken. And while I know this is okay, I don’t do well with feeling weak. I don’t see tears as weakness in other people, but I see them as such in myself. Why do I hold myself to another standard? You deserve all my tears, and you certainly get them. But I still get so irritated with myself when I break down. But God I need to. I needed to cry today. I need to hold you. To tell you I love you and miss you. That, three years later, I can still hear your voice so clearly. See your face so clearly. I miss your face. I love your face.

But my anger is still here. You talked to me about everything. I was your person. It was a position I was so proud to hold. But when it came down to it, you wouldn’t let me save you. And this, I can’t understand. You and I were bound together by our childhood. You were mine. Maybe I broke that trust when I became upset with you the last few months. Instead of chastising, I should I have listened. Instead of judging your decisions, I should have just given you all the love you deserved and needed. Instead of silence, I should have called you every single day. Just to say I loved you. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me. And yes, I know these feelings are normal for a surviving sibling. But that doesn’t change my regrets and my anger at myself.

Anyway. I am going to go sit outside and enjoy the weather before Denver gets cold again.

I love you, Buddy. I miss you. Always.