Tag Archives: brother

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’

My Little Brother Daniel

6 Oct

In August my little brother Daniel died in his sleep aged 24. People always say that there are no words to describe grief – but unfortunately there are too many. I can only apologise for my rudeness to everyone who has asked me ‘Are you okay?’ I was unable to politely nod, smile and pretend – which seems to be the desired response. It began to get to the point where it felt like a disservice to Daniel to say ‘yes I’m fine’ even if it was a lie anyway. As those who have lost someone know all too well, nothing is going to be okay ever again.

My Brother Daniel

My Brother Daniel

Coming back to London and leaving my family behind is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, even though I know that I can move closer to them one day. Today has been a bad day for some reason, and a day when I won’t pretend I’m fine but grieve not just for my loss but also Daniel’s loss. He has lost another 50 years on this earth, living, loving his friends and family and being loved – and when I think about this for too long it takes the air away from around me, and I can’t breathe. Every day when I walk up the steps to my front porch (where I first found out) I feel as weak as that first day, remembering that he is gone.

For the past couple of weeks I deluded myself that he would be in Northumberland alive and well when I next visit, and I was able to be ‘normal’ as a result. Friends commented on how strong I am and all the usual supportive stuff. I had worried about being a burden to my boyfriend, hence why denial seemed easiest. Given my worries the year before over my boyfriends cancer I feel that for two whole years I have now been the girl who is always sad – and who wants to be friends with that girl? But after my two weeks of pretending that I’m happy I have finally realised that I am allowed to grieve, it’s okay to be sad. I don’t want it to rule my life, but the recent acceptance that it will for an undefined amount of time is almost a relief to me – as it’s one less thing to feel guilty about.

I don’t want to end this post on such a negative note, but instead want to share some of my favourite photos and memories of Daniel:

Chubbiest Cheeks

Chubbiest Cheeks

Daniel was the laziest baby with the cutest chubbiest cheeks imaginable. He would roll around the floor and point and I would say “Mammy, Daniel would like some more juice” or “Mammy, Daniel wants some sweeties”.

In Kenya

In Kenya

In Africa when he was 16 years old while out on the ocean in Kenya, Daniel told our catamaran instructor to go back to shore and leave us – he had learned the ropes and would take over. After the man swam back to shore an unmistakable little grin spread across Daniel’s face. He had not remembered at all how to run the catamaran – he had just wanted freedom. Needless to say we had the scariest journey of our lives, which resulted in a crash into the rocks and two very embarrassed parents. I love how unpredictable life was with Daniel in it.

In Love

In Love

Here is Daniel with his ex-fiance Ami. It was clearly one of the happiest times of his life and I am so glad that was able to experience love.

Christmas

Christmas

On Christmas morning Daniel would always be first up, and on the run up to Christmas first to plot how we could find where the presents were stashed. He used to try and feed the dog the coffee flavoured quality street as nobody liked those ones!

My little brother

My little brother

I spent much of my childhood making signs for my tent or bedroom door that said ‘Daniel keep out’ and rebuilding the sandcastles that he had joyously stamped to pieces. We could battle it out in the back of my parents’ car, footprints on the seats, tear streaked faces, and five minutes later be laughing and joking together.

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.

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