I’ve realized that as I’ve gotten older, I actually appreciate and enjoy Halloween a lot more than I did when I was younger. Maybe part of that is because Halloween wasn’t something my parents embraced. While other kids had fancy jack-o-lanterns with their cool stencils and cheap pumpkin cutting sets, my dad was cutting up our pumpkins with a big kitchen knife (that was so dangerous… and never to be repeated ever again). And when other kids got excited about their new costumes, homemade or not, each year, I had to pick one costume at kindergarten that was supposed to last me through my schooling (no matter that at age 10, I would very likely be much bigger than I would be at age 5…). All I remember of Ed is that he wore a Garfield mask a few years in a row when my dad would take us trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.

Halloween is one of those holidays that has appeal to almost everyone because it gives you the ability to be something or someone else for a day – and express your creativity in doing so. While I will not look forward to the cavities my future kids may get from all the freaking candy they will have gathered during their trick-or-treating, I will be excited to encourage their creative side in costuming up for Halloween and designing the most stunning and elaborate jack-o-lanterns possible. Ed would have enjoyed that.

Geeky moment

I had a moment at work today that would be classified as a “geeky moment.” I was working on a quarterly performance template and creating graphs with fake data, and I wanted to create a bar chart showing media spend with a line graph overlaid on top of it showing gross profit. Since my current work computer has Microsoft Office 2013 installed, I wasn’t used to this new version, so it took some time before I realized that the way I was trying to create this type of graph was outdated, and the multiple steps I had taken before have now been replaced by the click of a “Combo” button. I was in Excel heaven for the next ten minutes.

For some reason, this reminded me of the times I have helped Ed format his resumes in Word, and how he was never confident using any type of computer program other than Internet Explorer. I downloaded Chrome and Firefox on his computer, and when I came home in July to look at the history, it was empty. He never even opened those two browsers. And I don’t think he ever used Excel at all after he left City College.
This geeky moment made me realize that this is one of many moments that Ed will never have again – these little things in life that seem stupid or inane but provide short term excitement – he will never know what these are like ever again.
I still cannot believe he is gone.

Cutting out negativity

The one cousin on my dad’s side I have who I didn’t really grow up with has been reaching out to me recently in light of Ed’s passing. The funny thing about us is that even though we didn’t spend much time at all together during our childhoods, we have a lot in common. We’ve been sharing lengthy e-mail exchanges about the drama and sentiments around his father’s passing, my brother’s passing, and our generally dysfunctional wider family that we are entwined in. He also has left the Bay Area to pursue a happier, more hopeful life with his wife.

He has told me that although it may be hard and painful, sometimes cutting out the negativity, even if that means shunning some family members, is what we may need to fully heal and give ourselves a chance at happiness. When there are too many negative influences around us – those who complain and do nothing about their grievances, those who self-loathe, those who do nothing proactive to help themselves or help others, we get weighed down by them and consciously or subconsciously become like them.

I know this is necessary, but it’s always good to have someone who can remind you from time to time to make sure you are actually following through on this.

Another doctor’s visit with Ed there

So it looks like one of the “fibrous bundles” that my gynecologist found was just a little cyst. All I have to say is – visiting the radiologist’s office is like a nightmare up until the point that the doctor walks in after her assistant does your ultrasound, and she tells you, “Hi, I’m Dr. X. You’re just fine! Just thought I’d get that out of the way now since that’s what people seem to want to know right away!”

When I was lying on the table watching Natalie take my ultrasound, I felt tiny pangs of panic and despair come over me when I saw all these different colors on the screen as she ran her device over me. I obviously have no medical training, so I’d know nothing about anything on the screen, but I do know what “red” color tends to mean, and I did see some red on my left side.

I guess I won’t be seeing Ed anytime soon in the next life. He probably doesn’t want to see me this soon, anyway. But I had the feeling that from the moment I entered the office to the second I found out I was fine that his spirit was there with me, trying to ease my worries and calm me down. He was a worrywart himself, but when he’d see me worry, he would always absolutely hate it. It’s just the kind of person he was – and who he still is, somewhere up there.


Last night, we went to see Gravity. Sandra Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone, is sent on a mission to outer space, and while there, she realizes that she could die; everyone on the mission has died except for her at that point. She doesn’t think it would be that bad because back on earth, she doesn’t have anyone she cares about who cares about her. Her daughter reached a tragic death at the age of 4, and since then, she just drives, as she says. She thinks she will commit a painless suicide in outer space until she has a hallucination of George Clooney’s character, Matt, coming back to make her snap out of it. After she wakes up, she realizes she has to continue to go on no matter what.

In the moments when I learned of Ed’s passing, that’s how I felt; it wouldn’t be that bad if my life ended because since Ed is gone, I’d get to see him again. We’d reunite and continue in the next world together. I wonder what Ed would have thought if he had watched Gravity and seen Ryan Stone survive. Would he have felt hope, or would he think, I’m not strong enough to do that?

I wish Ed had hallucinated that someone came to him on the Golden Gate Bridge before he jumped, and that someone gave him all the tangible reasons why he should continue on. I wonder if that would have been enough to prevent him from leaving us. He did bring his keys with him, after all.

Old cards

I spent this afternoon organizing a lot of old cards and letters that have been given to me over the years from family and friends. While organizing, I re-read a lot of the messages and was brought to tears. Some messages were for congratulations and thanks, while others were for birthdays and Christmases where my friends had realized exactly how long our friendships have lasted. My longest friendships have endured for over 16 years now. That’s how long it’s been since Ed first tried to end his life.

No one in my circle of friends knows me pre Ed’s first attempt. You could even say that no one in my family ever understood me pre Ed’s attempt and post. Yet somehow, I’ve managed to keep most of my thoughts around his and our family’s situation at bay and wear this mask as though I have always had it together. Then I’m sure people think, wow, it must be hard to go through something so difficult like this now. The truth is that it’s been difficult for over 16 years, and no one else has realized how difficult it has been until he decided to leave us in the dramatic way that he did. No one else will ever really know the full truth, and frankly, most people probably don’t want to know. No one enjoys pain.

I also found the gift note that Ed wrote when he had flowers delivered for my 21st birthday. “Yvonne, Happy 21st birthday! You’re officially an adult now. -Ed.” He always was a man of few words.

Winter is coming

The cold is coming. I actually had to whip out an autumn coat and scarf yesterday, and the heat has also kicked in at the apartment. It’s gradually darker and darker when I leave the apartment in the morning to hit the gym, which has been a bit depressive (and a poor excuse for me to only have gone once this week. I even skipped yoga yesterday, which was pathetic).

As winter slowly creeps up on us, I am reminded that the year is quickly coming to and end, with November coming next week, and Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner. I think about all the goals that I’ve set for myself this year – getting in shape and being aggressive about morning workouts, a new job with a higher salary and a happier work environment, trying to meet more people, travel, Wellesley alumnae club involvement, reading a book a month, and as always, trying new things. For the most part, I’ve checked off every one of these boxes, and while that seems great, I still feel like I am in a lull.

Because even though I might have done all these things this year and done whatever it is I have done in the last nearly 28 years of my life, the one area where I have completely failed is saving my brother. 2013 will be the year in my life that will always stand out as the last year my Ed lived, the last year where I hugged my brother and spoke with him in the flesh, and the last year where I could speak about my Ed in present tense. It is an intensely lonely feeling.


Since the age of 12, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating relationships and the roles different people play in my life. That sounds a little crazy for someone that young, but it’s just something that I have always pondered. What makes one relationship close while another is distant, and what distinguishes an acquaintance from a friend? For a lot of people, particularly in today’s social media driven world where we “friend” everyone on Facebook as soon as we meet them and then immediately forget about them and think this is “normal,” there really isn’t a huge distinction between “acquaintance” and “friend,” and I’ve always found that a bit tragic. We consume ourselves with knowing people superficially and pretend in our heads that we have lots of “friends” – but those relationships are empty in the long run (e.g. when someone in your family dies, do you expect all your Facebook “friends” to send their condolences and come to your relative’s funeral?). I’ve always hated it, and maybe for that reason, I am guarded when it comes to labeling people my “friends,” and even more protective over those whom I would call “close.” I’ve been accused of being overly judgmental and too cautious, both of which have their bits of truth, but the bottom line is that I refuse to live a superficial life. I refused at age 12. I am still refusing at age 27.5. I want meaningful relationships with people I respect who genuinely, deeply care about me. Is that so much to ask? A lot of the time, it feels like it.

So, that’s why I have this recent conundrum, in which I have a colleague who is trying to befriend me, and I’m doing my best to keep my distance as much as possible without being rude. It’s not as though I never gave her a chance. Shortly after I started, she started at my office, and she asked me to lunch. I went to lunch with her, and for the first time ever, immediately got a sour taste in my mouth, and concluded this wasn’t going to work. The odd thing about this happening is that I rarely have lasting first impressions with anyone. In fact, most of the time when I first meet people, my first impression is neutral, and then as I spend more time with her, I realize gradually whether or not we mesh.

If we were to be friends, it’s almost as though I’d be violating my morals. She has a child who is over one, who spends Monday through Friday with her in-laws, days and evenings. She and her husband go over for dinner in the evenings, which her in-laws cook (they even pack them lunch for work!). She and her husband are basically child-free Monday through Friday with the exception of spending ‘family dinner’ time in the evenings with their daughter, and then on the weekends, they finally are parents and take care of their child. She constantly talks about wanting to do things like cook and sign up for a gym and go running, but insists that it’s too difficult with so little time working full-time and being a mom. What is wrong with that statement?

I can’t be around people who make people of my generation look lazy and as though they are not taking full responsibility for the life choices they have made. Ed might get mad at me and start scolding me the next time he visits me in a dream for this, but “I feel what I feel.” I need to surround myself with people who are proactively trying to do things to make their lives better, not dumping their responsibilities on other people and then lamenting that the world is unfair and that they don’t have time for (fill in the blank).

Then in my head, sometimes I think, “You think your life is hard? Did your sibling just commit suicide?” It’s a mean but easy card to pull if I really have to.


Yesterday night, I went to a Bodhi Meditation Meetup. It’s the second meditation Meetup I’ve attended in the last month; the first one was a Sahaja meditation, which I found a bit boring. Bodhi meditation was a bit different and instead focuses on visualization. One of the things we had to visualize was standing still and being nearly transparent atop a crystal lotus. As I closed my eyes and began to imagine this in my head, the image of Ed walking around the crystal lotus appeared, and he tried to step on the lotus I was standing on. I got really distracted at this point and decided to leave the room. I ended up leaving 15 minutes before the class was supposed to end. Who would’ve thought that attending a meditation class would leave me feeling even more distressed.

He’s just everywhere, even in the meditation room with me.

Three months

It’s been three months today.

In the last few days, I’ve been thinking about it, and although sometimes it seems as though a lot of time has passed since then, other times it feels like it was just yesterday when I was crying and screaming about it, and calling my close friends and family to let them know one by one.

When my brother was about to turn 18 and I was 11, he made his first suicide attempt by taking a large amount of pills; he thought he would go to sleep and never wake up. He survived, and the next morning, he confessed to our parents what he had done, and they immediately took him to see a psychologist and psychiatrist. He was diagnosed with clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a form of anxiety disorder. During those years, he stabilized, and he admitted to me that he was actually scared that night when he attempted it, and said he didn’t want to die.

I don’t think he felt that way that afternoon at the Golden Gate Bridge. I think this time around, he really wanted his life to end. He had come to terms with it and decided that this was it; this is my end. Goodbye, World.

As awful as going through all this is, and though I wish he were still here with me today, I am grateful that I have been lucky enough to have had 16 more years with my sweet, loving, selfless brother than I could’ve had if life had worked out differently, if he had succeeded in ending his life that summer of 1997. In those 16 years, my relationship with my brother matured and deepened to the point where we were no longer fighting about petty, childish things, and instead treating each other with the love and respect that mature adult siblings should. I’m blessed to have had him for over a decade and a half the way I did. Some siblings never experience that type of love with one another their entire lives. And that’s their loss.