Happy 35th birthday, Ed! Today, you are turning 35… Or you would have turned 35 if you were still here. It’s been a year since we celebrated your 34th… and a year and four weeks since you jumped off that damn bridge. I am always in disbelief when I think of how much time has passed since I’ve managed to live my life knowing that you are physically dead.
I’ve realized that as the day gets closer to the anniversary of your birth or death, a part of me just feels numb. I seem to care a little bit less about what’s going on around me, and I just feel like there’s a lot of noise surrounding me that is not that important. I don’t know if anyone else remembers your birthday. I’m sure our JW mother does, even though she doesn’t want to admit it. I know our dad does, even though he never acknowledged it to your face all those years you lived with him even after I left home. I think our cousin here in Brooklyn thinks about it, but he’s probably too emotionally screwed up and dysfunctional to mention it out loud to anyone else. Thinking about all this seems to force all of the anger I’ve felt in the last year to resurface. I can’t really help it. It just seems to come. Everyone just goes about their everyday lives, and somehow, even just that ignites my anger.
I think about this walk I am doing for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and though I am doing it for your memory and hopefully for others who may be suffering the way you did, sometimes, it feels so futile. It feels like a charade at times because all I really want is to have you back, alive and healthy. I want the world to not judge you for being as fragile and depressed as you were. I want the world to stop and think about you the way I think about you. No one else will ever understand. With your absence, I am even more acutely aware of how little one person can help another who is so deeply entrenched in his own darkness. It was too late for me to do anything for you before I even realized it.
Chris surprised me yesterday when I got home with a bouquet of these big yellow sunflowers. It reminded me of when we were little, and for a few years, we’d plant sunflowers together. When the flowers would blossom, the buds would reveal endless sunflower seeds, which we’d eat most of together and then save a handful to grow next year’s sunflowers. One year, you decided to take the liberty of just eating all of the seeds, and I got so mad. We were never going to grow sunflowers together again!
What I’d like to do is grow sunflowers for you again. I’d love to grow an entire garden of flowers for you, trees that will live longer than any human being could, flowers that would experience weather changes endlessly but would persevere. I want everything important I do to be because of everything you taught me, before and after you left this world. This is how I want you to know how significant you are in my life, even after your death.
I will always celebrate and acknowledge your birthday — last year, this year, in five years, in 20 years. I’ll make your future niece and nephew acknowledge it, too. I just hope you are eating cake, too. Hope that cake doesn’t get smeared the way Chris smeared your cake in 2012, though.
I miss you. Come visit me in my dreams sometime soon. I know you can be difficult and don’t always come when I want (in fact, you have never come when I asked), but cut me some slack because this is the second birthday of yours I have to celebrate without your being here. It still hurts. I’m not really looking forward to going back home to the room we used to share, knowing you will not be there. It’s such a cold, horrible place.
I love you, Ed. Don’t forget about me while you are doing whatever it is you are doing up there. And hope you are thinking about me as often as I am thinking about you.