Remembering My First Friend

Today, marks 10 years since my brother walked this earth. A milestone that requires acknowledge and his life, one that requires celebration.

My first friend.

My first enemy.

My first teacher of forgiveness.

Even when he drove me to the brink of insanity, I learned to accept him for who he was, not who I wanted him to be. It did not matter if I liked him every day, being my brother made me love him always. His love of basketball, his knowledge of all things sports, his genuineness as a human being and as a friend were only a few things he was well known for. Very early on, Derrick lived his life his way and did not require validation from anyone (a current goal of mine). Though I had imagined who he would be at the age of 35, 50 and 72 – that was not what his life was created for and that was never for me to determine.

Writing is my medicine. My source of healing. I empty words on a page and exhale the hurt in my soul. For the last four years, I put in the work to heal from the pain I experienced. I used writing, this tool that I love so much.

I exhaled a novel on some pages.

I created this blog to empty my thoughts into the world.

All of this with the hope that while I heal, maybe there is someone else who hurts like me and needs to read some words that speaks to them. Especially now, during this time of pain in our world, it’s important to find what heals us – what makes us feel connected to others. We are never alone if we are honest enough and brave enough to seek out a source of healing. None of us are fine and that is okay. Pain is temporary if you are willing to put in the work to let it go.

Find what heals you and do it!

When thinking about how to honor Derrick, I could not find the words I wanted to express the pain of losing this person I love. Then I realized I already had the words. I emptied them on pages of my novel and posts I shared with you. I will never be whole again without him, but I am finding ways to heal and honor this boy I watched grow into a man.

His love, his laugh and his giant presence will remain a void in my life always. But because of him, I love a little harder. I live a little more passionately. And I am grateful for the gift of knowing the love of my brother.

“I wake up to the sun creeping into my room. The distinct scent of a mix of fresh rain and a dash of lavender that hints to the night slipping away, lets me know it’s still early morning. The familiar aroma is welcoming to rise to. Inviting me to start my day, it is my first reminder of something beautiful in the world. However, today it’s my first reminder I am waking up in a world where my brother no longer exists. Upon this revelation, I grasp my chest because I can’t breathe. This new truth is choking out the life I had been accustom to. The life where he was there and always would be. Just yesterday, he was here. He was breathing and annoying me. Now he is gone. His room is empty and forever will be.” -From the Inside Out

“After becoming a therapist and a mother, my brother died of a drug overdose. Again, my core was shaken and my direction changed. Again, I had a new lens to see the world and had to find another way to forge down the path where new obstacles lay waiting for me. By this time, I was 30 with a new even more damaging set of coping skills I pulled from my tool belt to “handle” the pain of losing my first friend. Though my questions were different after this loss, the theme of blame remained the same. Why couldn’t I save him? Why didn’t I do more? However, as a good people-pleasing-caretaker, I sealed up all that blame, pain and sadness so I could be fine and attempt to continue down my familiar path. The problem was my life-lenses acted as beer goggles and I found myself fumbling and falling where I once floated.

What I have learned through all these experiences is the single worst thing I can do is be ‘fine’. When I am in pain and I am experiencing loss, I am far from fine. When I don’t give my experience and the stain it left on me the dignity of a name, and rather say ‘I’m fine’ my stain spreads. The original impact of the trauma is much worse if I can’t call out the fact I am hurting and I have been effected by what happened.

I’m not suggesting you have a full-on therapy session with the next person who asks how you are. However, instead of lying with ‘I’m fine’, chose something else. Literally ANYTHING else, because being ‘fine’ is not living.

Life has not been promised without pain. We do not get to skip through Candyland shooting rainbows out of our ass while riding a unicorn. Though, if we can be honest with ourselves and with those we love and trust, we have the ability to come back from anything and find peace in the most troubling situations.” -“I’m Not Fine and Neither Are You (

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