5 years

Dear Dan,

Tonight it’s 5 years since you left. I miss you every day. However, a friend of yours got in touch yesterday. That’s always nice — talking to someone who knew you. Yes. It can be hard. Yes, I can sometimes still get a little weepy. But as I told your friend, instead of disappearing from the world, I see you in everyone whose life you touched. Everyone I’ve spoken to has told me how you’ve changed their life, sometimes in big and sometimes in small ways. That’s the best testament to a person. That’s the big way you stay with us.

Scott got a little teary and his voice broke when he spoke of some neighbors putting a puzzle together in the community room. The puzzle was of frogs. I recently bought a clay teapot with small frogs climbing on the legs, spout and handle. I never would have bought that for myself. I would have sent it to you. I find small ways of remembering you every day.

I think the hardest part of your death is knowing that you aren’t anywhere on this earth. I can’t call you. I can’t plan to meet you for coffee or a meal when you pass through town.

The second hardest thing is something I think is specific to suicides and sudden, violent deaths. That is the questions left behind. Why did you do it. Why didn’t you let anyone know something was wrong. I have a hard time believing the note you left. That reason you gave feels superficial, not the real, deep down reason. You always were good at hiding behind half truths.

There are supposedly 5 stages of grief, according to the Kübler-Ross model. I think the stages are misleading or maybe I don’t really understand them. Denial lasted for about 10 minutes and only because there was some confusion on the part of the police. It’s not their fault. They were playing “whisper down the alley” and were told David at first. Considering we have a cousin David, there was an instant of “maybe Dan’s not dead.” Soon there was confirmation and that was the end of denial. I might have had and still do have trouble with the fact that you committed suicide. I never had trouble with the fact that you’re dead once there was confirmation.

I never hit the anger stage. Ever. Mom did, but that’s her default mode so … you know. I got frustrated sometimes — mostly with the legal stuff and having to work a lot of the estate stuff on my own until I found the right attorney here. Your poor executor. He might have a few choice words, but he can write them in his own blog if he wants to.

Bargaining — um … who was I supposed to bargain with over what? Fod? To bring you back? It doesn’t work like that.  You were gone and no amount of bargaining was going to change that fact. Within this stage is supposed to be guilt. That isn’t it’s own stage. Ok, so there was a little guilt but not that “maybe if I … then he wouldn’t have” guilt. “What If” only leads down a path where I refuse to go. Scarlett O’Hara and I are in agreement on that part. Even the regrets part of the guilt stage is something I keep a tight rein on if at all possible. Because that leads irrevocably to the next stage …

Depression. That is MY fallback position and always has been since birth. You would be amazed at how many people who know me through work or in a moderately social setting have no idea I suffer from depression. Talk about better living through chemistry! So yeah, I suffered through that stage — and still do on occasion — over your death.

Which brings us to acceptance. My question is — acceptance of what? That you died. Yeah. I accept that. Do I have a choice? It’s not like I think you faked all this and disappeared. Acceptance is the only option unless I want to be certified batshit crazy. Nope. You’re dead.

But acceptance of how you died/why you committed suicide? That, my man, is the hell of being a survivor — the one left behind. There is no acceptance because there are no answers. The one person who can answer those questions — YOU — is gone and you’re not talking to me.

So this is what remains for me — memories, both the sublime and the ridiculous — and contact with the ones whose  lives you impacted.

I love you and I miss you, bro.

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