Today marks 37 years since you were brought into this world. Happy birthday to my loving, generous, warm-hearted brother, the one who left this life too soon, too quickly. It’s the third birthday of yours that you’ve missed because your life was cut short. This world can be such a painful place to be some days. Today is one of those days for me.
You know what it is kind of funny, but not funny in the literal sense? People think that the anniversary of your death or your birthday every year are my worst days. Those days serve as terrible reminders of the loss, but I think we all know that people who have loved and lost too soon, we think of those we lost every single day. A day never goes by when we don’t think about you or miss you. It’s just a fact. Some people say it gets easier over time. My sadness and anger over your premature death haven’t subsided, though. I still have so many conflicts over your life and how you were treated by everyone from your church ‘friends’ to our relatives to even our own parents. I am haunted in dreams by them because I don’t think those feelings will ever go away. In these nightmares, I am always yelling at our parents and expressing anger over how unfairly they treated you, how they ignored your illness and struggles, and even how they ignored your birthdays when you were alive and overall human feelings. No one really understands this, and most people, even my seemingly closest friends, don’t want to know all these truths. Your life is an enigma to them. It’s not an enigma to me, though.
I’m still struggling to have faith in the world and hope for the future. Every day is a struggle against cynicism for me, before your death, and even more so since your death. I try to be strong every day, but some days, the struggle is harder than others. Some days, I have little motivation to do more with my life. But then I think of you, and I think that I can’t fail your memory. It’s an ongoing thought that sits on my head throughout all my days.
To honor your birthday, Chris had kouign amann delivered to my office today. I know you never got a chance to try these when you were here, but they are a pastry from the Brittany region of France that are like the crispier, sweeter, and slightly denser version of a croissant. They were really tasty. I know you would have really liked them. You probably would have eaten all four in a single sitting if no one stopped you. There’s so much you never got a chance to eat when you were here — here in New York, back in San Francisco, and all around the world.
We went back to Elmhurst and had knife-cut noodles, dumplings, and cumin lamb in your memory tonight. It made me remember how I never got a chance to take you to my favorite hand-pulled noodle place in Elmhurst, and I didn’t even take you to have New York pizza when you were visiting New York in 2011. It was just too dramatic that time because of our mother constantly picking fights with me that trip. They really ruined that trip for you. I’m sorry. I was in survival mode at that point. But at least I took you to the original Shake Shack when you were here?
The world is dim today for me as I look through our childhood photos together and realize that we’ll never take another photo together ever again. As adults, we really didn’t take enough photos together. I really regret that. We didn’t celebrate or memorialize our everyday moments together, even after I got my iPhone. The worst thing is that I thought about taking more photos together in March 2013, but again, our mother was in such a sour mood for the two weeks I was back in San Francisco that year that the idea of taking a photo altogether really irritated me. That was the last time I saw you alive.
What are you doing today, anyway? Are you looking down at the earth, wondering what the future is going to be like after the presidential election has ended, wondering when I’m going to produce your future niece and nephew? Do you ever think, I wonder what life would have been like if I just moved out of that terrible house and struck it out on my own? Well, I wonder that. I think you’d still be here today. But those are useless thoughts.
I don’t know when I’m going to see you again. When are you going to come back? I really miss you. Visiting your niche in San Francisco isn’t enough, especially since every time I go, I have to go with our parents. Do you ever miss them?
Life is going by really quickly. We’re already five months past our wedding that you were watching from above. The worst thing is that while life passes by quickly, the slowest moments are when I am thinking about you and how I’ll never see you again. That’s when life really, really sucks.
It’s okay, Ed. I’ll be okay without you. I think I’ve been doing decently well since you’ve left us. The rest of the world may not acknowledge you on your birthday, but I do. I acknowledge you every day in my heart and in my mind. I don’t really care if other people think it’s obsessive on Facebook or in person. They can continue living their miserable lives. You never forget the people you love most, regardless of whether they are still living or have passed on.
Fundraising time is about to begin. I’ll be thinking of you and our happy memories together, and hoping that your life now is far more peace-filled than it was on this earth. I love you.
With love and longing,
your little sister Yvonne