A Year Without Daniel

19 Jul

It’s been a year since my mischievous little brother Daniel died, aged 24, after a heart attack in his sleep. As the year mark approaches, my inability to cope with the prospect of life without him is more apparent than ever.

My Brother Daniel

My Brother Daniel

Each day is different, but I find as time wears on I almost have to deny all knowledge of his existence just to get up each day. The irony in this is that I also fear about people forgetting him, and mourn the memories that he won’t create as we try to move on. One day I will get married, and he will never be there to hug me, one day I’ll have children and he won’t ever be fun uncle Daniel. It’s so vivid in my mind – I can see him chuckling with that classic Daniel ‘I’ve been caught’ look on his face as I tell him off for giving my future kids their first New Years drink, or giving a toddler e-number sweets by accident.

As humans we all deserve to live our lives, and the horrific catch 22 in life is that means things have to go on after death. Sometimes I see a certain beauty in this, our loved ones existing in our hearts forever, immortalised in memory. Other times I see nothing other than the cruelty of such love, as when you feel so much how can your life go on without it.

Small things can hit you like a punch in the gut, and stop you in your tracks. Last week one of Daniels ex girlfriends posted on Facebook that her new boyfriend was the only man to ever make her feel special. I cried for hours. How quickly had she forgotten my brother? In hindsight I also feel more than a little hypocritical. This girl has talked about Daniel positively on Facebook for months and she’s tried to keep in touch with my family. She has a tattoo of his name down the length of her arm. Each day she must see it and be reminded that he is gone. Doesn’t she deserve to move on with her life? Deep down I know that I want her to be happy. I realised it was more about how I feel. To be happy means to make new memories without him, and it’s a hard choice.

On holiday in Cuba recently, when buying gifts, I bought a Cuban cigar for Daniel and afterwards I felt a suffocating melancholy. I can imagine his excitement, and his face as he puffs it ‘like a boss’ and the ensuing Facebook photo that he would post showing off his cigar pose. Days later I started to smile a little at the image, thinking not what he wouldn’t be around to actually do this, but at the cheeky childlike nature in Daniel that allowed my mind to conjure up the image in the first place. For his birthday this June my mam bought Daniel a wham bar, and my dad bought him a bottle of Jack Daniels. I wonder if they felt the same, the happy memory of what simple treats he loved yet the bitter reminder of what we have lost.

When I’m with my family it’s a stark reminder of who isn’t there and I don’t want the 12th of August 2013 to be the last day I had a family. This past year, in between the moments of grief, and the days of denial where life could be fun, I spent the remainder of my time worrying that I had lost my parents on that day too. That my mam’s grief would consume her until there was no room for me or my brother John. That my dad would never again come running through the house on Christmas morning dancing, clapping, christmas carols blaring singing for us all to wake up. Recently, I see small glimmers of a strength in them that does give me hope. We can still exist, and more than that maybe one day we can be happy again.

As my grief counsellor is so prone to saying “It’s early days” and it’s normal to be grieving this way. It’s actually really nice to hear, in London it’s so fast paced that I worry it’s strange to feel so raw, and hurt so deeply this far on. Tied to that, I despair that I lost myself on that day. In the past year I’ve become emotional (I even cry at sad stories about pets these days!), pessimistic, less fun. If I spot a reminder of Daniel I become melancholic, to my friends I must just seem like a bore by now. I’ve stopped being as ambitious, I’ve gained tonnes of weight, stopped caring about my future plans. I lost a lot of my confidence, sure that everyone looking at me can see my sadness and in turn avoid me like the plague. I look at pictures of myself smiling before it happened and think how beautifully carefree I was, how never again will I smile like that, look so young and happy.

Get Busy Living

Get Busy Living

Daniel had a motto that he loved from The Shawshank Redemption. He had half tattooed on his arm ‘Get busy living’ but due to a scar he had to wait for the latter half ‘or get busy dying’. When his scar faded he decided against the second half, it was too negative, and he wanted to be happy, he only wanted to ‘Get busy living’. I hope that one day I can do this. That I can smile when I’m reminded of him, that I can look at his photo albums without running to the bathroom to be sick. Nobody has such a small ego that they don’t want their memory to live on, I know that Daniel would want to be remembered. In fact he liked attention so much I know he would need to be remembered. I’m just figuring out right now how to do this – how to remember his life – and not his death.

A year on – one thing hasn’t changed in the slightest. And that’s the blog post I made below about how much I love Daniel. So… let’s end on that post, and of course, happy pictures of the kindest, loveliest brother I could have asked for.

“Every day I will miss my handsome curly haired little brother more and more. I would give anything in the world to have him back, to cuddle him again, or even argue with him one more time. Thankfully, I always told Daniel that I loved him, and he always told me he loved me too. I hope that he knows just how much, and what an impact he had on our lives. Our world was a better place with him in it, and I am very proud that he was my brother.”

 

My brother

My brother

Dan and Daniel

Dan and Daniel

 

Amy and Daniel

Amy and Daniel

 

In Florida

In Florida

 

Mam and Daniel

Mam and Daniel

 

Dad and Daniel

Dad and Daniel

Brighter days

Brighter days

 

The chubbiest chheeks

The chubbiest cheeks

Little bro's

Little bro’s

 

Disneyland

Disneyland – chillin ‘like a boss’

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One Response to “A Year Without Daniel”

  1. kelly clark August 12, 2014 at 9:52 AM #

    thers no1 eva like daniel he is a miss loved havn him as my neighbour

    Like

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