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June 29, 2017

Being a Bereaved Sibling

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How are your parents doing?

Since the day that my sister died, I have been asked over and over again, "How are your parents doing?"

Don't get me wrong, I know that these people are well meaning and understand it's impossible to understand how it feels to lose a child, but when this question is asked of my parents, it seems to often be overlooked of me. Sometimes, I need people to ask how I'm doing. I need people to understand it's impossible to understand how it feels to lose a sibling. I wish people would recognize that my parents have each other, a support network they've built in the twenty-something years they've lived in the same neighborhood, and an entire section of Barnes & Noble books on being a bereaved parent, and I have my cat and friends that I make uncomfortable when I say my sister died instead of "passed away."

Where's my Barnes & Noble section on sibling loss?

I know a few people here and there who have also lost siblings, but I have yet to meet someone who has lost one in a somewhat similar manner to how I lost Julian. Even then, it feels awkward and uncomfortable to just strike up a conversation, like, "hey, let's talk about our dead siblings." I have found an Instagram account with a poorly-updated blog of a woman who lost her brother over ten years ago. I have my own brother who I don't really utilize as much as I should, since, well, he's the only one who can really understand how I feel (but even then, it's different for him too). I already know from my own personal research and from papers I chose the topics for in school that the social science research surrounding sibling bereavement is next-to-none. But why is this such a neglected topic?

It's safe to say that when a parent loses a child, it's usually accompanied by a sibling losing their sibling (I'm just guessing here because I guess it depends on the generation since people have less kids now and stuff).

It's not like I'm some outlier

In terms of the bereaved, it's not like I'm some outlier, but it often feels like it. I think that's part of the reason why I write about my experiences so often. Bereaved siblings seem like these weird unicorns that nobody knows what to do with. Well, as much as I wish I was a unicorn, I'm just a sometimes-sad, little person, just trying to make it through life.

I'm fairly convinced that everyone who tunes in here texts their friends every time I write about her like, "here she goes again, looking for sympathy." In reality, I don't think any of y'all care about my life that much and I don't think I'm cool enough for people to talk smack on behind my back. I guess I'm just trying to justify blogpost after blogpost about my sister, but then again, this is my blog and nobody's forcing you to be here. Although thanks for stopping by anyways.

I never saw myself as a writer. I honestly used to hate it. I can't even remember why I started this blog but I think it's helped me process her death more than anything else ever could've (plus as we know, I am very opinionated and I think I'm funny so I enjoy sharing that with the world (or like probably just Khadeeja and my mom)). I've learned how to acknowledge my feelings surrounding Julian's death. I've learned how to communicate the kind of support I need. I've learned to be patient with others and to be patient with myself.

And most importantly, I've seen my hope grow. Hope that there will be a happy ending to all of this, hope that I won't forget her voice or her laugh. Hope that time will continue to heal me, and hope that I can help others heal as well. I would've never signed up for this journey, but I have learned so much about myself in the last year and a half. I don't always want to be strong, but I know that I am, and I know I can handle any curveball that life throws at me (although if life wants to chill a while with the curveballs that would be stellar, since I know nothing about baseball anyways).

Yours truly,
McKay
June 28, 2017

Indifference

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Looking back, I don't think we had a bad relationship. We didn't fight much, if ever. We had fun together. I loved you and you loved me in the capacity that we were able. Especially towards the end, however, you had a lot of indifference towards me, and towards us, and towards a relationship.
I don't want you to feel like I'm calling you out, because if you wanted to, I'm sure you could write a blogpost full of my issues (or maybe even two). We should've been eagerly holding hands, skipping happily into wherever life would take us, but that wasn't the case. Towards the end, I was holding your hand and dragging you along, and we both knew it.
I do admire that you recognized things weren't working, and you were brave enough to end it after all that time. That was not easy. It hurt, don't get me wrong, but I know that it's what should have happened. I want to be with someone who would do anything to be with me. I want to be with someone whose excitement for the future outweighs their anxiety. And I want to be able to be the same kind of person for my partner. And we weren't there anymore.
And looking back, I've definitely learned how indifference can ruin a relationship. Sometimes, I almost wanted to grab you by the shoulders and tell you if you weren't going to be hopelessly in love with me (which hello, offended, because I'm a gem), then at least find things extremely irritating and pick fights. Just feel something, one way or another. Relationships get hard over time. They take work and commitment. And if you're indifferent, and you don't feel anything enough to keep working, then things will stop working. And in our experience, they did.
When I fall in love, I fall in love quickly, deeply, and (what seems) infinitely. I love way too hard. Don't get me wrong, this can be beautiful when it works. But when it doesn't, it's a train wreck. And at this point in my life, I am just looking for someone who can show me that that quick, deep love can truly be infinite, and from both partners. So if you know anyone, or if you are someone, hit me up. Kidding. Sort of. Unless you're Chris Evans then I'm definitely not kidding but also how did you stumble upon my blog?

Love you Chris!!
Yours truly,
McKay


June 23, 2017

Truly, Perfectly Happy

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People can be mean, and selfish, and hurtful. They can betray you and break you.
Right now I'm just trying to remember the nice boys in high school that asked me if I was okay when I was crying in my truck. And I'm thinking of the girl who mailed me chocolate from across the world. The way my best friend squeezes me after years apart. My mom's tears every time we say goodbye at the airport. All the support we got after Julian died. The happiness I feel when I come home to my dogs. How amazing it is that people can fall in love. The great sales at Old Navy. When Taylor Swift comes on the radio. Getting Swig with your friends. Driving with the windows down. Feeling alive.
Life is hard. It's so so hard and I sometimes doubt that I'll ever get to be happy. And sometimes every day feels like things are getting worse and worse. But I'm trying so hard to be hopeful. It has to be like this for a reason. I want to fall in love with a good man. I want to be a mom. I want to see my sister again. I want my parents to be happy.
I'm trying. And for now, I'll try to just remember the good things. I'll remember how I can't stop laughing every second I spend with Ali. I'll remember how Alex will always have my back. I'll remember how Melissa drives to me when I'm heartbroken and how Khadeeja gives her support from afar. I'll remember all the good people in the world — the people I am beyond lucky to know — and hopefully I can forget the bad.
And I'll hope that someday I get to be truly, perfectly happy.

Yours truly,
McKay


June 11, 2017

In My Dreams

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I have very vivid dreams.

I think I've always been this way, but especially in the last four years or so.

Most of the time they are actually pretty good: I'm dating the hot Irish guy who transferred into my high school German class, I'm dating Will Smith, I'm dating Chris Evans (I didn't want to wake up from that one).

Last week I had a dream that my brother and my sister and I were in Utah and we got a car wash and my brother knew the girl working there and she thought he was cute so she gave us free watermelon donuts. Makes sense.

My sister is in my dreams a lot. Most of the time she is just there and alive. She doesn't ever talk and I don't think the idea that she's passed away has ever been presented in my dreams. She is just a supporting character, but very much in the story.

I read an article that my friend Amy shared: "How My Deceased Mother Answered My Father's Prayer In A Dream".

When I woke up the morning after my watermelon donut dream, I was thinking about that article. I was thinking how my dreams are always ridiculous and insignificant. But the more I thought about it, I thought about my sister. She is always alive in my dreams.

I have struggled with just about everything since she died, and I have found very little comfort. It's been very frustrating to me, especially when hearing these great spiritual experiences people have with their loved ones who have passed on.

Why has my sister not come to me? Why don't I find feathers everywhere? How do I know if she's watching out for me? Am I not righteous enough to receive some kind of sign that she's okay? What if heaven doesn't exist? What if everything I've believed up to this point isn't true? 

But the more I thought about it, the more I've realized that maybe those dumb dreams are telling me something. Maybe she's still in my life just as much as she was before. Maybe someday we will get to eat watermelon donuts while some car wash attendant hits on my brother. Maybe she's always going to be a supporting role in my life, whether she's here physically or not.

Maybe that comfort has been there for me this whole time and I just haven't realized it.

I'm not sure if I'll ever be sure about the Plan of Happiness, or Heaven, or eternal families. I'm not as strong as people think I am. I am faltering and stumbling and struggling. Maybe I'm reading too much into my own subconscious imagination, but maybe, just maybe, she is looking out for me.

Maybe I just need that hope.

Yours truly,
McKay

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