For Joshua

I know you can’t hear me,
but if you could,
I’d tell you about my day.
I played with our cousin,
built a snowman,
and sledded down the stairs.
It reminded me of the hour you played shark
with him, laughing together.
I slept upstairs, our uncle across the hall,
and remembered the times I’d go to the basement,
hoping to catch you playing
“Behind Blue Eyes” on the guitar.

If you could hear me,
though I know you can’t,
I’d tell you about my trip to our grandfather’s.
I finally finished that YouTube series you showed me.
I’m sorry I couldn’t watch it with you,
but it was still funny.
I see why you liked it.
I wish we could’ve played Rock Band together afterward.

If you were here,
though I know you’re not,
I’d show you the new sweater I got for Christmas.
Dad said it was meant for you,
but I guess it’s mine now.
It has Rick on it, laughing crazily.
It makes me picture all the late nights,
watching Rick and Morty go on endless sci-fi adventures.
You always liked that.

Maybe you can hear me,
probably not,
but even if you can’t,
I want to tell you
I miss you every day.
I wake up,
and I have to remind myself you’re gone—
I have to resist the urge to text you, brother unit,
and you to text back, sister unit,
and to tell you about a trip I want to take with you—
because there will be no more trips with you.

If you had seen me,
which I know you didn’t,
you would’ve seen me collapse in the hospital.
You would’ve seen me break down at calling hours.
You would’ve seen me deliver my eulogy without breaking,
and you would’ve seen Dad climb up the stage
and speak for five minutes without crying.
I still don’t know how he did it.

If you could read this,
though I know you can’t,
you’re probably wondering how Dad’s doing.
Short answer: not great.
He cried over your body, dude.
He practically knocked it over.
He hugged Mom for the first time in years.
Stepmother stood there,
making it about her yet again.
I hate her for it,
but I suppose it must’ve been hard for her,
finding you in the garage.
I wonder,
was it her you chose to find you?

I know you can’t answer,
but I still want to ask.
How did you learn to tie the rope so well
that it wouldn’t break from your weight?
Did you ever doubt?
Did you stand on that chair, asking,
Do I really want to do this?
Why did you answer yes?

I wish you’d said no,
but you didn’t.
So now, I’m here.
And you’re not.
It’s not fair,
me having to be the strong one between the two of us.
But I suppose, since you were so selfless,
you’re allowed to be selfish once.

If you chose to stay,
which I know you didn’t,
I would’ve hugged you,
told you again how much I loved you.
I know I said it a lot.
I know you said it a lot.
When you told me you valued our relationship,
it was better than any gift I’d ever received.
You’ve given me so much,
and I wish I could’ve given you more.

If you could see me,
though I know you can’t,
you’d see me cry for hours in my room,
feeling like I can’t live without you.
There are times I dream about you,
dream that you’re alive.
My sweater is forever on your body,
cut up the middle by the paramedics,
and the bruises are forever on your neck.
On those days,
when I wake up to reality,
I want to follow you
all the way to the abyss,
to tie the knot around my own neck
and let it all fade away.

Even if you’re not really gone,
it feels like you are.
I don’t know where you are now,
big little brother,
but if you can hear me,
I love you,
and I miss you,
and I wish you only the best.

By JW

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