2 years and 4 months ago I lost my first forever friend my only sibling and younger brother Andrew. One Tuesday morning while at work I received the news that was to change my life forever.. all that I had ever known, the reality that I thought would always be exactly that ‘real’, a figure in my life who was always meant to be there… the Andrew in ‘Leanne and Andrew’ ever existing, ever frustrating me and getting on my last nerve at times but always full of love and devotion, a relationship that through all its ups and downs I was sure would always stand the test of time and never cease to exist. That reality soon changed and I had to adjust to an absence in my life more painful to bear than any high school bullying incident or broken bone. I went through so many emotions, from feelings of guilt, shock and disbelief. I asked myself 21 questions hoping I would find answers that would somehow ease my conscience so I could sleep at night and be able to be of some use to my beyond devastated parents. As much as I needed them still even at 27 and living with my partner they now needed me more than ever, I was now their support network.
The days, weeks and years to come after any death are dark ones but we were blessed to immediately have support there in the form of family, church friends, Godparents, work colleagues, close family friends. People who knew us as a family and cared about us. They were there for us now more than ever. The presence of loved ones cropping up as much as they did in the 10 days leading up to the funeral and the weeks after we could not put a price on their value to us… So many of us are reluctant to approach those who are mourning in fear that they may say something to upset that person or family who has lost and cause more anguish but the truth is people need people whether it’s just their presence, A hand shake, a hug that can make an unbearable day a little more bearable.. I remember fondly those who came and saw us during that time because we knew that they were feeling compassion for us and although they may not have been able to relate fully to our personal level of grief at that moment in time many had been through loss which like ours would stand to change the person they once were.
I needed to somehow find the peace of mind that would help me face each day in a dignified manner… An opportunity to re-develop a stable state of mind that not so long ago had existed. I managed to achieve this state of mind quite soon after the event and was so proud of myself and my approach to this life-changing occurrence. I helped prepare for the funeral, making decisions as a family and remaining a tight unit like we had always been… I kept my strength up eating and sleeping little at times but as often as possible. I never once pushed love and support away even on the days where we didn’t see a light, only a dark tunnel. At times I just found myself sitting in silence or shedding tears holding another’s hands united in grief for a son and brother… in remembrance of a figure who was so loved and would be sorely missed…
But plans were made and approached each day as positively as I could and were productive I worked together with others for the sake of not only Andrew’s memory but for my families continuing existence, an existence which would see the darkness overcome by light, not immediately but in time. I knew I couldn’t wallow in self-pity, I owed it to Andrew not to. I had to make a choice to honour Andrews memory and celebrate a life lived by a loving man who had a heart of gold and would be remembered fondly by all those who knew him. There is no doubting the positive impact Andrew had on people and the love he had for his family. Our lives have without a doubt changed but I will continue to move forward in my own ways within the loving family unit Andrew will always be part of… our loss hasn’t defined our lives it has simply highlighted the importance of treasuring every moment with those who we love and approaching life in a way which will benefit others and not just for my own gratification.
If my Brother’s death taught me anything it was that I should never go to bed on an argument.. I was lucky the last words I said to Andrew were I love you and he said it back and on reflection that gave me the comfort I needed to feel able to move forward. I will never get over losing Andrew or let anyone feel I should but I will, I am and will continue to live my life, to love, laugh out loud and take chances, because that is exactly what Andrew did. He came out of his comfort zone and it may not have been all that comfortable in the end but he came further in just 6 weeks prior to his passing than a lot of people including myself can come in a year… but I have taken more chances and stepped out of my comfort zone because Andrew taught me not to be afraid, it may only be baby steps I take at times but the biggest step of my life since then has been marrying my husband and its been my proudest moment because it was the day I made the decision to no longer put myself so often at the centre of my choices. So these changing times are changes for the better….