It’s interesting how we all cope with pain in our own ways and choose (or not choose) to show it. Ever since my good friend from college got diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma last August, every time I’ve spoken with her, it’s been hard to detect any true fear or pain on her end, yet I know she is scared and worrying every day. I have no idea what it is like to think that I could possibly die of an illness. I still struggle to understand what Ed felt like in his own despairing, lonely flesh and blood existence.

Human beings are such strange creatures. We live our lives every day going through different motions and habits, trying to achieve certain things that are tangible or not tangible. Yet in doing that, we all have different adversities and demons we grapple with that may make achieving any of those things even more difficult than for another person not facing the same set of issues. I sit on the bus or train and walk by thousands of people every single day. We pass each other, exchange a glance across a subway car, bump into each other in a rush. We have everyday conversations – “Hi! How are you?” Fine, thanks! How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?” Yet we have no idea what each others’ feelings or pains or demons are. Sometimes, that must feel really alienating and lonely. We’re in this big world full of billions of people surrounding us every day, but if no one really understands you, it’s like this big sun-lit world is just a small, dark hole with just you in it.


Sixth night

It’s my sixth night back home – feels like time has flown since I arrived on Saturday. I guess it helps that I’ve had activities planned with friends and family, as well as work definitely picking up. Some people question efficiency and work ethic when working from home; I feel like I’ve worked harder at home the last three days than I have right in the office.

All these nights have passed without Ed being here. I suppose it will always be a bit of an adjustment every time I come home and know he isn’t here. I’ve even found myself straightening out his bed before I go to sleep to make sure his side of the room is nice and tidy before bed time. I’ve gone through emotional moments in the last six days – thinking, remembering, wishing. I still wish that we could meet up once in a while, maybe at a midway point between heaven and earth, and we could just sit in the middle together and talk and laugh and hug and even cry together. I could tell him about the latest thing our mother is worrying over (the most recent thing has been that Chris doesn’t want to marry me and is just dragging our relationship out until forever), and he could tell me his latest discovery in his new world. We’d hug and say our goodbye – until next time. Maybe tonight in my dreams, it will happen again.


Still living

I had dinner with a friend and her husband tonight, along with their adorable baby, who I think of in my head as my adopted niece, partly because Ed isn’t around and will never give me any nephews and nieces, and also partly because my cousins and I are not really close enough for me to warrant spoiling their kids. We sat at the table, discussing life, death, and everything in between.

I told them that it doesn’t feel like Ed really passed; it feels like he is still around. When I am in our family’s house, it’s like he’s sitting at the table with me or in the other room, or just about to get home from work or karate or picking up some produce. My friend’s husband said, it’s because he still is there. Perhaps the way that we define “existence” is in the physical form, but who is to say that he doesn’t still exist? He is living in another way.

Maybe I feel him even more strongly now because he is no longer of the form that you and I know, but he has entered another type of existence where I can feel him even deeper, and he can feel me more, as well. And maybe because of this, I feel even closer to him, almost like we are always together because in mind, we really are connected.

Maybe all of the above is true. But either way, I still can’t help but miss him in this flesh and blood form of which I am aware. Maybe my missing him is selfish because he has left a life of pain and suffering and entered a cosmos of sorts where suffering ceases to exist. If I genuinely love him, I can’t possibly want him to suffer anymore. I need to keep reminding myself that he is in a happier place and form of existence than before. Otherwise, I will never truly find peace.

When they don’t know

I’m not sure how you are supposed to act when you are sitting at a dinner table where everyone knows that your brother is gone, but one person doesn’t completely know but seems to think he is just “at work” …or something.

My mom didn’t tell her whole congregation that my brother passed away. In fact, she decided to just tell a select few close friends, who all came to Ed’s service. Her argument was that she didn’t want everyone giving her too much attention and that it would upset her even more. That’s really just code for, “I don’t want to deal with the shame.” The rest of the people in her congregation either do not know, or have heard gossip from “the elders,” and so they do know, but just aren’t allowed to mention it or talk about it openly.

So at dinner last night, I had to sit at a table with someone who frequently offers rides to my mother to and from her Bible study meetings, but he was not informed about what happened to Ed from our family, nor did he attend the service. He also has not acknowledged my brother’s… absence at all. How much more awkward can a dinner table really be?

Pretending normality

I went in to work at my company’s office here in San Francisco, in the “up and coming” Design Destrict that is borderline Portrero Hill where tech startups are signing leases, and where homeless men peeing while smiling at you as you are walking to a food truck is completely normal. A colleague whose sister lives in my parents’ neighborhood was nice enough to offer me a ride home afterwards. As we were exchanging notes on overprotective parents, he asked if I had any siblings. “Yeah, I have an older brother,” I said. He’s dead, but you don’t have to know that, the voice in my head said silently.

It’s such a normal, everyday question to be asked if you have any brothers and sisters. No one thinks anything of it. I freely ask people all the time if they have siblings. But now that Ed isn’t here, I really hate the question. It’s like I have to pretend that everything is normal, that yes, I do have an older brother, and of course he’s around! No one wants to know if you have any family drama, or if your sibling died in some freak accident, or if he committed suicide. How do you go about telling people about your sibling who is no longer living anymore, anyway? If you never talked much about your siblings before, why would you suddenly start just because they are dead?

I still have a couple of friends I haven’t told. Part of me thinks they wouldn’t really care – we weren’t that close to begin with. I don’t really care to share the information because it would just cause me needless anguish, and they don’t gain anything from it, anyway. I don’t want any more pain.


Ed came to visit me in my dreams again last night. I was in the bathroom at our parents’ house, and I heard someone walking past. I opened the door, and there he was, smiling at me, wearing a white dress shirt. I immediately felt this surge of joy, and I threw my arms around him and hugged him tightly and whispered in his ear, ‘I love you, Ed.” He wrapped his arms around me, too, and said, “I love you, too, Yvonne.” It’s the first time I’d ever heard him say “I love you.” It was also the first time since his death that I saw him in my dreams, embraced him, and didn’t immediately burst into tears, both in the dream and upon awakening.

My parents and I went to visit him at his niche today. We replaced the flowers that were there with some new ones that I clipped, and I sat there, looking over all the details of what I had put together for him and trying to see if anything looked different than before. I’m not sure if it was just me, but it felt brighter than before. Maybe he is at more peace than when I last came in September.

I feel his energy all over our house. I feel it when I am sitting at the dining room table, right by his desk where he used to sit, reading his Bible or surfing the web on his laptop. I feel it when I am in the living room reading, where he used to watch TV or nap in the afternoons. I also feel it when I am getting ready for bed. I look over where his bed still is, and wonder if he is getting ready for bed, too. Even though he isn’t here, I can feel him constantly. It’s like he never really left, and I am still waiting for him to walk through the door and throw his backpack or karate bag into the hallway as he would take off his shoes before coming in. I don’t know if that feeling will ever go away. Maybe it will remain with me whenever I am in this house forever.

I feel more emotional this time around coming home than I did in September, and I’m not really sure why. Maybe I’ve just suppressed a lot of emotion because I keep telling myself I need to be strong – not just for myself, but for my parents and even Ed himself. I’ve immersed myself in work and activities and goals and travel maybe as a way to try to escape all of those painful feelings. In my head, it all just sounds like a broken record that just keeps repeating the same questions and scenarios and play-back events over and over again. There is little solace in speaking about it out loud, and the only true comfort I get is when I drift off into sleep and can see and touch him again.

Golden Gate Bridge suicides

Today marks exactly seven months since my sweet Ed jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. And I have also flown home again to the home he will never return to. I didn’t even think of this when I booked this flight.

I figured it’s been enough time for me to stop being ignorant to Golden Gate Bridge suicides, so today I spent some time researching it. Since the iconic landmark of San Francisco was first unveiled in 1937, over 1,600 people have chosen the Golden Gate Bridge as the place from which they will jump to their deaths. It’s considered the suicide bridge of the world with the highest number of suicides globally. It’s fail-safe compared to hanging, pill overdosing, and even shooting. Four seconds of falling at a speed of up to 75MPH down 220 feet, and it’s all over.

After 1995, an official count of jumps was stopped for unclear reasons (maybe it’s the city’s way of just turning their heads the other way). But it’s estimated that approximately 24 people jump to their deaths from this site every year. Another 80-100 are pulled off the bridge annually by big-hearted volunteers who volunteer their time as suicide watchers, watching out for people who “look” like they may jump. They approach them, talk to them, coax them into not ending their lives, and in some cases, even have to wrestle them off the railing and bridge. I wish this happened to Ed. I can already imagine he would have been so quick to do it that no one could have reacted in time.

Ironically, in August 2013, the month after my brother jumped, a record high 10 people jumped off – to put that in perspective, that’s one person every three days. No one survived that month, as the survival rate is about 2%, assuming you hit the water feet first at a certain angle, and that the U.S. Coast Guard gets to you before you either drown or die from hypothermia. That water temperature is not forgiving.

I found one happy story about a guy who jumped off the bridge and somehow managed to survive. His legs gave out, but somehow, a sea lion came out of nowhere and helped push him to the surface of the water. He went on to be a mental health care worker and created a suicide prevention program that he travels around the country teaching now.

There have been plans since the late 90’s to construct a proper suicide barrier under the bridge, as apparently San Francisco and California in general are so broke that they don’t care about the lives that are lost here. A number of news stories I’ve read have said that this is the only “suicide bridge” in the world that has absolutely no barrier constructed. About $5 million have been raised, but the total cost of this project is approximately $65 million. And as one painfully clear suicide note left on the bridge said, “Why do you make it so easy?” I felt chills reading that.

A lot of critics have said, what’s the purpose of creating a suicide barrier, anyway? When people are determined to end their lives and you take away one means, they will find another means. Well, that’s a really sensitive thing for you to say. It’s like saying, “that person’s already determined to kill himself anyway, so nothing you do will help! Don’t bother helping!” Thanks. I actually got told that quite a number of times last July and August, thank you very much. You’ve really got to love all those assholes out there who don’t intend to be assholes but really just have no sense of empathy or of being a real human being with real feelings.

A number of research studies have found that usually when a person is suicidal, they tend to fixate on one particular way to end his life. Yes, they run through a number of methods, but they finalize one method and make that their goal. In 1978, a study was done by a UC Berkeley researcher that actually tracked 515 people who were restrained from jumping between 1937 and 1971. A few of these potential jumpers went on to kill themselves, but 94 percent were either alive years later or had died of natural causes – NOT suicide.

Someone commented on one of these articles and complained that if a barrier were built, it would take away from the beauty that everyone knows to be the Golden Gate Bridge, and it wouldn’t be as beautiful anymore. This idiot obviously is short-sighted and has no idea what it is like to lose someone to suicide.


I’m going home tomorrow. I feel a little happy about it because I get to see my parents again, but I mostly feel depressed since I know Ed won’t be there. I spent most of today in a frenzy with work since a lot of my responsibilities are changing and I have a lot of different things to accomplish with my newly defined role, but aside from that, I just kept thinking about the idea of going home and knowing that Ed will never be there again. Actually, he’ll never be anywhere other than in my dreams. I hope he’ll be there when I eventually die and join his world. He’s supposed to open the door to heaven for me. We never talked about this out right, but we agreed… sort of. Okay, fine. I told him he has to do this for me, but he’d do it anyway because he loves me. But I can’t even count on that happening.

Is this how I am going to feel every time I go home – miserable because he will never be there again? Am I always going to wonder if I in some way contributed to his life’s misery or if there was really, truly, absolutely nothing else I could have done to help him?

I keep looking at the Lenox Butterfly Meadow cups he gave me. And then I started Googling the entire line, wondering if maybe I buy everything Lenox Butterfly Meadow related that maybe he’d be happy for me to continue what he started to buy for me. I don’t have enough space in this apartment for all this china. I don’t have space for all of this stuff in any New York City apartment. I think I am just looking for something to obsess about that is Ed-related.


Tonight, my friend and I went to see The Glass Menagerie. This week is its final week on Broadway, so the show was packed. I just finished reading the play using my New York Public Library membership last week, so I was already prepared for the story line.

The moment that struck me most during the play that I didn’t even think much about when I read it was at the very end when Tom is narrating. The “gentleman caller” has already left. Tom has had a fight with his mother, who accused him of misleading her and Laura with inviting his coworker over, believing that he was available (for Laura) when he was in fact engaged to another girl. Tom has stormed out of the house to “go to the movies” as he does every evening. Except this time, he says he has left for good, almost in the same way his father left them 16 years before. “I left you behind,” he says, referring to Laura, “but I am more loyal to you than I intended.” I could feel my eyes fill with tears. He left his little sister behind to be vulnerable in the world with his delusional mother. And now he feels guilt, yet he insists that he is still loyal to her even though he is no longer with her.

It’s like how Ed left me behind in some ways. I’m not as vulnerable as Laura is, but like her, I no longer have my brother around as someone to turn to or speak to or protect me. Her brother is still living somewhere. My brother is no longer living, but I hope that wherever he is that he is also still loyal to me, too.


It’s another sign of age when you start experiencing ailments that always used to make you wonder why everyone else experienced that and you never did. For me, that ailment was the creepy headache.

I don’t think I’d ever gotten a real headache before the age of 27. If I said I did, I was probably lying to get out of something. But yesterday morning, I started getting one. I could feel the pulsing beginning slowly. I managed to not only go to lunch, finish a number of things at work and complete the work day, but even survive a 2.5 hour mentor training session after work. Then I went home, tried to sleep, and failed. I don’t even remember what time I actually fell asleep.

Then my trusty gym alarm on my phone goes off at 5:45 this morning, and I think, yay, the headache is gone! I shut off my alarm to start getting dressed for my workout, and as soon as I get on my feet, this overwhelming pain takes over my temples and all over my head, and I decide to skip the gym. And work. Yet I have all these work e-mails piling up that even though I have a headache, I know I will be working from home anyway.

Whoever decided headaches should be something that people should experience is such a jerk.