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25 years

Today is February 5th. I hate today. I've hated it for 25 years. Five years and one week longer than my daughter has been alive. I have lived so many lives in those 25 years. All of them mine but all of them different. I've been angry, jealous, bitter, sad, in love, loved, depressed, hopeless, hopeful, dreamy, flighty, stupid, and happy.

Today, like every February 5th since 1989, I will relive that awful morning. Hearing my mom's voice. Knowing something was wrong. The huge pit in my stomach. I wonder why, but I don't dwell on it. I remember his smile, his smirk, his strong arms hugging me so tight I thought he'd break my ribs. I will cry but just a little bit.

When my brother died, my life took a sharp turn. I was no longer loved, cherished, I felt alone. Nothing could go wrong when he was here. But now, everything could go wrong. And lots of stuff did. And then stuff went right. And then wrong. And more right. Hills and valleys.

Brene Brown talks about foreboding joy--the fearful sense that joy is fleeting. Something bad will happen. Don't get too comfortable being happy because it won't last. That's how I lived a lot of my life. Brad asked me, "Why do you always go to the worst case scenario?" Because the worst case scenario had played out in my life. A couple times. I wanted to be prepared.

But preparing for the worst doesn't stop it.

Instead of preparing, I've learned to heal, love, and let myself be happy without waiting for the bottom to drop out.

After my brother died, I heard him called lots of things. A junkie, a drug dealer, a liar, a thief. But to me, he was amazing. What a gift that I could carry that person who loved me wholeheartedly around forever, letting his memory fill in the broken places in my heart. Maybe if he'd lived longer, I would have been forced to see him as some of those other things.

I try to be real, honest, and transparent, but there are people who don't like me. I spent a good part of my life doing cartwheels, saying the right thing, doing the right thing, but always for the wrong reasons. If people would just see me, love me, understand me, then...I don't know what. Then it would be okay? What would be okay? Life? I would be safe? I wouldn't be alone? I don't know.

Looking back at 25 years of changes, I realize I like who I've become. I don't always like the number on the scale or the color of my hair or the waddle under my chin (seriously, I really dislike that freaking waddle), but that's not the point.

Today, I worry less about what people think of me and more about how I treat them. I don't care if people judge me, but I try not to judge them. I don't need to tell everyone my story, but I sure love to hear theirs. I don't need people to think I'm a good person; I want them to know they can count on me. I don't memorize scriptures to preach to people; I help them feel Jesus' love in how I treat them.

Twenty-five years later, I still think my brother hung the moon and rocked the world, and I will love him forever.


  1. Thank you for reminding me about that part of Brene's book --- not enjoying things because I'm pretty sure that just as soon as I get into it I'm going to take a hard hit that will set things back to my pre-ordained happy-meter setting has become default mode for me. I remember reading that, and thinking about it, but had forgotten. I love you big time. You know that, right?

    1. I sure do, and I love you right back <3 you and your "pre-ordained happy-meter," lol!

  2. Hi Mary. I saw you on Compel. I know I've seen your blog before but can't remember if I left a comment. Isn't it amazing to think how much can change in 25 years, how we grow? And how God keeps his hold on us even when we're rocked by tragedy. Keep writing!

    1. Yes, it is. Thank you so much, Betsy, for reading and for your encouragement!

  3. Oh how I love reading your blog! I haven't lived through losing a sibling but I relate to your words, always. Reading this today has spoken to my heart. Too many times I wait for bad to happen. Thank you for refocusing my thoughts to positive ones and making me realize that I need to be in the good moments and enjoy them as they are happening. Love you!! -Amy

    1. Thank you so much, sweetheart, for your kind words :) I love you!


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