My fifteen-year-old brother passed away a month ago.
It was absolutely sudden, no symptoms, no complaints, just nothing at all. Next thing we know, we find his rigid body the next morning.
It’s a tragedy, of course, but this event has also shaken me to the core. It’s got me thinking about death, about religion, about… Everything, I guess.
It’s also gotten me in a swirl of emotions. And I’m just in disbelief, since day one until now, it just makes me think that this is all a dream, you know? Nothing seems real at all, and you know that you’re just going to wake up the next moment and everything’s going to be fine. Then you go to sleep, and when you wake up, he’s still gone. But you keep wishing it’s just a dream. I kept hoping that maybe he’s just going to jump out of the coffin and say that it’s all a prank, but he didn’t move. As the days pass by, the dreamlike qualities start to go away, bit by bit, but I still wish he’s here.
Up until my brother’s death, I held on to the belief that everyone in family are in ‘pairs’. My dad with my mom, my aunt with my grandma… And my brother with me. It’s almost always that way, even if we fight a lot, and thinking about it hurts. You feel a deep loneliness, and since we used to do everything together, something feels missing. We’re no longer partners-in-crime, we can no longer play video games together, now it’s just me, and it hurts.
Perhaps one of the worst effects his death has on me apart of grief is the fear it brought. When such a sudden death occurs, all these questions are going to buzz in your head non-stop.
Why did this happen?
What did he do to deserve this?
Why at such a young age?
But the most terrifying question is:
I have to admit, before all this happened, I didn’t care one bit about dying. I am afraid of pain, but if I were to die from a painless injection, I wouldn’t care. But now, I’m scared of death. Just laying in bed at night, thinking if I wasn’t going to wake up the next day. For the first, several days, I had to make sure that everyone who were asleep were still breathing. I would put a finger under their nose or just stare at them until I was sure that their chest was expanding.
This really gives a new meaning of “never knowing if you’ll live the next day”.
And it’s also given a new reason for religion. Thus far, I’ve been an apatheist, but now, I’m not so sure. People say that perhaps it’s meant to be, that there will be meaning in this, even if we don’t see it now. Maybe it’s fate. Others may detest this kind of psychological defense mechanism and may instead change from being religious to an atheist, but if not, my parents would have drowned in depression.
I can’t say the same for me. I still don’t care if a God exists or not, but at the same time, I do believe that there must have been a reason it happened. If not, then why would he have died so suddenly?
But being in the presence death really just affects you tremendously. Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but it’s also different from how TV and books describe it. When I least expect it, I could smell the sickening odor of my brother’s room that day, the odor that I couldn’t stand to be in, as if the smell has been etched into my brain. Sometimes I could see his pale face out of nowhere, just haunting me. On that day, I couldn’t even stand the feel of flesh, not even my own flesh, and now I’m still uncomfortable with feeling cold flesh. It just reminds me too much of it.
In my family, ironically, I’m being the most optimistic person so far. Ironic, because my brother was the optimistic one, and I was pessimistic. But at the same time, if I stayed pessimistic, even now, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed every morning.
And I guess now, all I can do left is smile, because I don’t think he would want to see me cry.