The last time I saw him, it was my brother’s birthday. He’d kept us laughing all evening with his sly jokes, and had affectionately called me 3.14 (his childhood nickname for me) at least once. I rolled my eyes, of course, but I didn’t mind. It was our thing.
He eventually got up to leave, and as usual, I made myself scarce so as to avoid the teen-like awkwardness that always comes over me when there’s a lot of hugging going on.
I wish I had hugged him good bye.
I probably never even told him I loved him. I don’t think it ever occurred to me to do so.
I wish I had. I hope he knew.
Last week, he chose to leave this world forever. No one even knew he was thinking about it. No one realized how much pain he was in or how much anguish his self deprecating manner and easy smile was covering up.
I wish he had let us know. I wish he would have let us help. We could have helped. I would have helped.
But he didn’t. So instead, I’m searching my memories, looking for clues.
I remember riding around on his shoulders when I was very small, feeling like I could touch the sky. I remember how he forced the others to let me have a turn while playing Atari games, defending me when no one else would. I remember being excited to watch MTV together when it was still shiny and new, and how incredibly worldly he seemed when he drove off into the night on his moped.
But I don’t ever remember seeing him sad.
I never had a clue. Now all I’ve got is grief punching me in the stomach and guilt swirling through my brain.
I hope wherever he is, he’s at peace and his pain is gone. But I wish with all my heart that he hadn’t taken that step. He never gave us a chance. It wasn’t fair.
So, internet? If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be this: never, ever take the ones you love for granted. Make sure they know how you feel. Make sure they know they can talk to you. And when in doubt? Go in for a hug.