I am sitting in bed reading a book tonight when I look over to my left at framed photos of my brother, and I realize that it’s been just over ten years since I graduated from high school. Two of the photos are from May 2008, when I graduated from college, and my brother is with my parents at the Boston Commons and watching ducks swim. In the last photo, we are standing together on my high school graduation day, a sunny blue sky day in front of San Francisco City Hall, in June 2004, with me in my cap and gown, and him in a full suit and tie. We are both smiling at the camera, squinting from the sunlight.
Then I look closely at the suit Ed is wearing, and I wonder if it’s the suit we buried him in. I think it’s the same one.
He was really happy that day. His little sister was graduating from high school and about to start a new life in the Boston area. He was actually going to attend my graduation this time, unlike my middle school “graduation.” And he was going to shower me with all these gifts I didn’t really deserve to show how much he loved me and how proud he was.
He got all dressed up for me, which ended up peer pressuring all three of my cousins to at least wear button up shirts and slacks instead of their regular street clothes. “You’re wearing a suit?” One of my cousins asked Ed as we were getting ready to leave for Bill Civic Auditorium, where my high school graduation was held. “Why not?” Ed said. “Yvonne’s graduating!” My cousin immediately ran back to his room, obviously changing his mind about what to wear that day.
High school graduation was one of the happiest days of my life. I remember it with great clarity and pride; it was honestly a much happier period family-wise. I actually felt close to my cousins and my uncle, and I felt like we had as cohesive of an extended family I could have asked for. My entire family came – my parents, Ed, my two aunties and uncle on my dad’s side, and my three cousins who lived in the Bay Area. Everyone took the day off to see me walk across that stage and get my diploma. My then-boyfriend came, as did a couple of friends who had graduated the year before I did. I think I had to special request 12 graduation bids for my guests. My cousin’s now wife joined us for dinner that night at Roy’s but dropped an orchid lei off for me that morning, telling me I needed to have a lei at my graduation. My uncle had a special occasion lei ordered and shipped from Hawaii for me that day.
Ed was always suffering, but that day was probably one of those days that he suffered a little less. I still can’t believe it’s been ten years since that day. I keep thinking it in my mind, but I never thought that he wouldn’t be here ten years later, and it really hurts. I have no words anymore. It’s all like broken records to me. It will never stop hurting.