advocacy, black lives matter, Current events, Death, discrimination, Family, inequality, Life, Loss, Love, racism

I Write…

When I am hurting, or mad, or confused… I write.

When I have something important to say… I write.

When my heart is broken… I write. 

When I want to help, but I feel helpless… I write. 

I write. It is what I do. 

This time it is different. I have been sitting back and taking it all in, struggling to find the right words. I wanted to understand before I shared my words with the world, but I have realized that I will never fully understand. I have decided that I cannot just sit in the background being fearful that my words will not matter. So, it is time for me to do what I do… I write.

The driving force that has given me the courage to express my feelings, my fears, and my disappointment in my fellow human beings is my brother, Eric… my sister-in-law, Monica, and my nephew, Kobe. They are my family.

I have been blessed with a life in which the color of my skin does not cause others to assume I am lesser than, judge my actions or abilities, or bring a feeling of fear or danger… but I have witnessed it. I have witnessed my brother, who was bi-racial, struggle in a world that did not treat him fairly. From the moment I saw Eric at the adoption agency, I knew he was my brother. I did not see color. I saw a beautiful little human who gave me the title of big sister… a title I did not take lightly. Eric grew up under the same roof as me and our older brother. Eric had the same last name as me and our older brother. Eric was loved and cared for just as my brother and I were, but Eric was treated differently by the outside world simply because of the color of his skin. Many people were blinded by color and they were unwilling and unable to see the Eric I knew, that was tucked away under a hard exterior that he was forced to build for protection and self preservation.

    The Eric I knew, still at the age of 26, loved hugs from our Mom. The Eric I knew had the biggest heart. The Eric I knew was an amazing father. The Eric I knew was a hard worker. The Eric I knew hung his conference metal that he won in track over my hospital bed while I was in the ICU just so I would know he was with me. The Eric I knew loved family. The Eric I knew taught me about life, love, and acceptance. The Eric I knew would have given me the world if I needed him to. The Eric I knew made mistakes, but guess what… So have I! I feel sorry for everyone that did not get to know this Eric. 

I feel really sorry for those who had tunnel vision and all they saw of Eric was that his skin was a different color. You missed out on knowing a loving and strong human being. His life mattered to me, and his death feels like a missing piece of our family puzzle. I cannot help but to feel like I could have been better for him, or stood up for him more while he was here. So, this is why I have decided that I cannot hide back in a corner, behind my white skin, and be afraid of what others may think or feel after reading my words. I strive to do right for Eric… for Monica… for Kobe… for anyone who has to live in fear and go to battle every day because of the color of his or her skin, anyone who is unfairly misjudged, and anyone who has been directly affected by racism. I will NEVER say that I know how it feels, because I do not know. All I can do is stand in solidarity, I can listen, and I can offer my continual support in any possible way that I can.

Kobe, Eric, and Monica

I pray for George Floyd’s family, and all of the families who have gone through and are going through unexplainable losses. 

I pray for our police officers who wear their badges for the right reasons, and who are willing to give their lives for those who they do not know. 

I pray that human beings start seeing each other as human beings no matter skin color, culture, gender, or sexual orientation. 

I pray that my nephew can grow up in a world that gives him a fighting chance. 

I pray that Eric knows that I am so proud of him and that I wish I could have done so much more for him. 

I pray that people realize that nobody is going to fix this for us. It starts with each and every one of us and our responsibility to be there for one another. 

I pray that the peaceful protesters continue to be supported and that they are heard loud and clear.

Our country and our world is a mess right now.

Our country and our world has lost its morals.

I ask that you find what it is that you can do to start making a change.

I cannot fix the world, but I can try… I can write.

Coping, Death, Family

I Love You Little Brother

Summer is quickly approaching… and I, like many others, am ready for sun, shorts, and flip flops! Along with the coming of summer is also the one year anniversary of the loss of my younger brother. We lost Eric on May 9, 2016, when he was only 26 years old. It was the hardest and most devastating thing that I have ever experienced. Death is a part of life, but when death happens unexpectedly to someone so close to you and so young, it makes such a deeper impact… it takes a piece of you. Throughout Eric’s 26 short years, he had taught me so much about life… the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even though he is no longer here, he is still teaching me and I can honestly say that I can feel him smiling down. I would like to share some of the things I have learned and experienced about coping with the devastating loss of my little brother.

1. Gone but never forgotten…

Not a day goes by that I do not think of Eric. Just like it states in one of my favorite poems by E.E. Cummings, “ I carry your heart with me. I carry it in my heart. I am never without it.” Those words have so much more meaning to me since the loss of my little brother. He will always be a permanent part of me.

2. Everyone has his or her own way of coping.

Everyone has their own way of coping with anything traumatic that has happened, and I have mine. This right here… writing down my thoughts… it is extremely therapeutic, and it allows me to express my feelings and struggles in ways that may not only help me, but it may also help anyone that happens to read this.

3. It’s ok to cry…. And also to laugh…

There are days that I think about him and tears come to my eyes, but there are some days that I think of him and I smile. Most of the times these feelings come rushing in completely unexpectedly, and I am still learning how to take a deep breath and accept all these emotions. I understand now that the emotions that I feel will never change, but the way I handled them will. It will take practice and time, just like so many other things in life.

  4. It is important to keep his memory alive. 

Eric’s pictures are up in the house, we speak of him often, and we share memories and stories about him. His son, Kobe, speaks so highly of his dad, but I know over time that his memories may fade because Kobe was so young when Eric passed away. Eric’s poster of him playing basketball in high school hangs above Kobe’s bed, and I will never stop answering Kobe’s questions about his father and sharing how much Eric loved him.

5. Maybe it’s a penny… a butterfly… a mustang passing me on the highway…

I do believe he is up there watching over all of us, and I do believe that there is truth behind signs that he somehow is present. My brother loved playing jokes and he had such a good sense of humor… and last summer when I was rolling around the lake and a butterfly smashed right into my forehead, I truly felt like it was Eric. I closed my eyes, and I swear I could hear him laughing. Maybe it’s coincidence… maybe it is not…

6. Eric was “too unique” for this world.

Eric’s other half and mother of his child, Monica, stated it better than anyone ever could. She said, “Eric was an extremely unique person, and this world just could not handle him.” That has stuck with me, and I could not agree with her more. The tattoo on his arm stated the word “untamed,” and that is exactly how he lived his life. The big sister in me always worried about him, but I also highly respected his ability to not waiver from what he believed in even if it was not the popular and accepted approach.

7. Sometimes I forget he is gone, and that will never go away.

There are so many times that I see a picture of Eric, and hits me all over again that he is gone. Sometimes I feel like he has just been on a long vacation, or busy… I feel like I should just be able to call him up or shoot him a text. I’m sure this will take time, and just like an open wound, I have to give myself time to heal.

8. Always say “I love you,” and always be present.

It is as simple as that. The last words Eric and I said to each other were, “I love you.” The night before Eric passed away, the whole family was together celebrating Mother’s Day. There is no other word to describe that day besides, “perfect.” It was the first time in almost a year that the entire family was able to get together, and I am so incredibly thankful that we had that day together. It was a perfect ending for Eric… he truly loved family.

9. He is happy… He is free…

It is hard too describe the feeling that swept over me as we scattered Eric’s ashes at the lake. The best way to describe it was that I felt at peace. I knew he was finally laid to rest at his absolute favorite place. I feel close to him when I sit at the edge of the dock and look out over the water, and when I miss him that is where I want to be… that is where I feel him the most.

10. I am a big sister, and I will always be a big sister because of Eric.

I am many things…. A daughter, an aunt, a granddaughter… but I loved being a big sister. From the day I walked into the nursery at the adoption agency and I met my little brother for the first time, I was so proud. I remember beaming from ear to ear when Mom brought him in to my second grade classroom because I wanted him to be my “show and tell” for that week. I will always have those memories, and I will be forever grateful for the 26 years I had with him.

Rest in peace little brother… I love you…. 💚