Saturday, July 4, 2015

The first decade

Ten years ago today I received a phone call from my mum. She told me that my brother Dylan, had killed himself. Here's what I wrote in my journal the following day:

My brother committed suicide on Friday. It hasn't sunk in yet, and all family and friends are being really good about it. I've never lost anyone close before and I don't know how bad things will get or how long it will take to get through it, but the next couple of months are going to be difficult. It seems very odd that a week ago there were four or us and now there are only three of us.

I think is the last photo of all four of us together. It's a shame the colour is a bit off.

Finding a meaningful sense of time was important. As you can see from the quote above, at first I was thinking about a few weeks or months at a time. As things got worse it would be days at a time. Since this was such a huge change in my life I'd occasionally think about years, or even decades at a time. I always told myself that the first decade would be the hardest. I'm in my early 30s, and if I'm lucky I've got another five decades left in me. Looking back at what I've done and where I've been in that time it's been an excellent decade, all things considered. I moved abroad to give myself time and space to come to terms with the loss. That was a long time ago, and for the past few months I've been thinking about moving back to the UK and getting back to "normal", whatever that means. Losing Moritz three months ago sped up that process quite a lot.

After ten years I've moved on from the loss and found new motivations in my life. Occasionally I still wake up thinking that Dylan is still alive, and that I'll see him again. Old memories of Dylan still resurface from time to time. Every now and then I remember that 40 years from now it will just be me and my two sisters, and one of the closest people I thought would always be there for me is gone forever.

On holiday in Wales.

The first decade without Dylan has passed. Losing him was hard. Losing him to suicide made it even harder. The experience has left me more resilient, more daring, and more outgoing, but at the same time it has left me a bit colder than before in some respects. I've always preferred deep friendships over relationships, and losing Dylan reinforced that feeling. I just don't feel comfortable being that close to someone. Seeing parent divorce, then Dylan choosing to die, moving country every few years, and brilliant friends coming and going for over a decade has left me with the impression that nothing is permanent or secure. Looking far in the future can be scary. Losing Dylan has changed me forever and feels as though I've had a shadow cast over some of the best years of my life. Even so I've managed to have a lot of fun and I like to think that Dylan would be happy to see me now and proud of what I've achieved. He would have loved to visit me in California or Geneva or Brussels, but he chose not to. He decided that whatever future lay ahead of him wasn't worth having. If the next decade is the same as the last in terms of opportunities, friendships, work, and travel, then that's definitely something I want to be a part of. I've rebuilt my life, and I'm just getting started. Today's a tough day, but that just gives me more strength to go on.

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