Dear Brandon,

Brandon

It’s been a year since you left, and it doesn’t feel any more real today than it did a year ago. I keep expecting to go over to Aunt Dawn’s or Jill’s for the next family gathering and see your smiling face. I always loved that about you, no matter where you were in life you were always so happy. You brought so much laughter and joy into our lives. I miss that.

A year ago today I was so angry. I couldn’t understand how you could let us down the way you did. We all thought you were clean and doing so much better. We were afraid to check on you and badger you, but I know we should have. Addiction isn’t something anyone can fight alone. It’s hard not to think about how if I would have reached out one more time, seen you one more time. But now I understand that gets me nowhere. All I have left are the memories of you, and they bring a smile to my face every day.

I can’t remember the last full day that passed without me thinking of you. Just seeing a guitar, worshipping at church, being around your family – all of them make me think of you. I miss you every day. Sometimes I listen to Nelly and think about how you were my cool, older cousin who let me listen to rap music even when it was against the rules. You were always including me even though I was the annoying little cousin. It was a blessing to have such an amazing person in my life all of those years.

So much has changed since I last saw you. I’m in graduate school at Georgetown University now, finally moved away from home. Jonathon is leaving for the Navy in March. Olivia and Grace are so grown up. I think they understand better than the rest of us that you are better off now than any of us and we should be happy for you, not sad. You always wanted to be a worship leader, and now I know you’re up in heaven doing what you love. Every time I’m singing in church, in my car, at my apartment I know you are right there with me.

We are all going through so much right now, so I just hope that you keep your arms wrapped around all of us. This family has their own angel now to look after us, and we need it more than ever before. You were our sunshine, and I hope that the memory of your smile continues to make each day a little brighter and a little better. I know it does for me.

I love you and miss you so much.

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