A Letter to My Late Brother

Dear Jay,

Today is a day I will always remember; a day with unanswered questions, and missed opportunities. A day where regardless of how busy we might be, we need to slow down, we need to stop and think about how this day changed the courses of all our lives.

 

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On January 12th, 2011, gun violence took your young vibrant life. My little millennial, you didn't have a chance to plant your roots, or build the life you once dreamt of.  On this somber day, I grieve your life, the life of a young man, a life that will never be forgotten, a life that was taken too soon. Over the years, I have used time to heal the pain of grief. Time wraps itself over your pain like a cocoon, it protects it from unleashing the ugly nasty sadness that follows after loss. Time holds it tight to heal and give you the strength to stand up, get up, and eventually move on. However, you don't really move on, you just learn to deal with it.j110

Today, I peel back a few layers of that cocoon, and sit with my pain. I also see how another year has made us stronger, more resilient, more humane. As you know in my line of work as a Bully Teacher, I often hear stories of gun violence, lives taken too soon, and tragic loss that sucker punched the kids I work with. Every time, I get that gift of connection with a child, I stop and listen to their story. I sit with them and we connect over the pain of losing our love ones. I share your story in a few words, and each time that I connect with a grieving child, it is a chance for them to see that they are not alone. Pain does not have to be turned into anger and hatred. Revenge is not the only option. It is with your story that day after day, we can start connecting more, sharing our pain to be more vulnerable, and find the time to reach out to another person and say: " Hi, I am here, I see you, and I am with you."

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I can't undo our past, I can't go back to the last few months of your life, and be more mindful, more present for you. I wish I could. I wish I would have called you every day, hugged you more, spent more time with you. I wish I would have stopped and spent real time connecting with you. I often wish, I would have seen you grown up my little millennial, to see what you would have become.

Yesterday, I had a special moment with mom. She was helping me out and I was venting about how I tend to do everything for everyone else, and often at the end I can feel empty or used. I feel that people just expect me to make it happen or be there for them. Then when I am down or I failed, I often feel alone and isolated. She turned to me and said, "You know Jay would be mad at you! He always told me to take care of me, say no, and stop doing everything for everyone else." I stood there and reflected on mom's words. I want to use that mantra this year, to really work on my own self-care. I want to use some "Jay philosophy" on life, and build the life I want for myself. I do admire how you loved life, and how everyday you had fun. You made this world a funnier and kinder place to be.

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So today, I honor your life, I cherish the impact you had on so many lives, I take in all those memories we had, and I sit with my pain today. I sit with the pain to grow a little more, to think about how life is precious and I can't take it for granted. I will snuggle with my daughter a little longer, laugh a little louder, and be a little more present to enjoy these precious moments, the small ones that pass us so quickly. Those moments that if we don't stop to take them in, we miss them.

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I am grateful to have grown up with you, to have lived with you, to have you as my little brother. From heaven up above, I hope you are looking down on us today. Jay, I love you xoxo

Until we meet again....

 

Written by Kortney Peagram

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