The stress of losing a sibling is more heartbreaking than the actual good-bye moment. We are all selfish people, as much as we want to argue otherwise, we still are selfish. And we realize this fact once we lose someone we love. Because at that moment, not all of us are sad because of what the person is going through, we are sad thinking about how lost and different our lives will be without them. So we grief until at some point we adjust ourselves to this new lifestyle.
Grief is different for everyone. Some might deal with the sadness in all kinds of weird ways. Many people find humor and ignorance as to the best way to get over this depressing time. On the other hand, some people cry all their emotions out of their systems until eventually, they feel better.
I, however, have decided to go on a road trip. The road trip that my brother and I were supposed to go on before he had the accident. A work accident, as the police call it. I kept telling my parents how it couldn’t have been just a work accident. I was completely convinced that it was a plotted plan made by some mafia men to kill my brother. I have made up thousands of different possibilities in my head, anything to make me take my mind off of the real possibility...that god decided it was time he took back what was once his. Maybe it was better this way. Maybe John wasn’t meant to live on in this world.
The bags were in the trunk and I was more or less ready to start driving. We didn’t even have a destination. We just knew that if we’d get in the car and drive we would have a hell of a time. And this wasn’t just a normal road trip anymore. It was more than that now. I wanted to honor my brother’s memory by planting a mango seed in his favorite place. It was where he had won his first science contest.
John was obsessed with science.
“One day, I’ll finally find out what death is like.′ he used to tell me. Usually, these confessions would be said while we were stargazing or exploring forests. He loved adventure just as much as he loved science. Maybe he loved adventure because of science. He used to tell me that everything that we see, smell, touch, feel has a backstory.
“Don’t say that, John.” I usually replied. My brother wasn’t suicidal nor was he unhappy. He was just curious. Everyone is curious about these kinds of things. Who wouldn’t be? We spend most of our lives trying to survive and leave something behind for when we do not exist anymore. Most people say that kids are the best thing about life. But John thought that the best thing about life was being able to experience it. Other than that, he used to say that life was a big drum roll for the ultimate experience a human can have: death. A thing either so scary or so beautiful that it has always been the best-kept secret in all eternity. No one knows what happens after death because no one came back to tell the story.
“Aren’t you at least a bit curious, Michael?” He stood up from the cold grass and looked me in the eyes. The moonlight shining in his eyes. Or maybe that was just excitement.
“Of course I am. But death is scary. You should be grateful that you’re alive.” I said. I used to disagree with my brother on a lot of topics but I also learned a lot of things from him. Half of them I still don’t understand. Or more likely, I don’t understand why they were so clear to him. Most things that were confusing to me were like basic knowledge to him. And I always admired him for it. He was braver than I will ever be and he was 7 years younger than me. A 20-year-old boy is usually preoccupied with friends or career decisions.
“I am very grateful that I’m alive. But death is also part of someone’s life. Look at it this way: we know what life is, even if we don’t fully understand it. We know what the average person is supposed to do to be happy. We have a bigger understanding of life than we have of death. It may be scary but that’s just cause we don’t know what will happen.”
“We are born, we live, we die, and then that’s it,” I said staring up at the Big Dipper.
“That can’t be it. What happens after we die? Is it just game over, darkness, and silence for eternity? Cause heaven and hell seem a bit too unlikely to me.” John said.
“How should I know?”
“See?” he excitedly said hopping to his feet to look at the view of the town from the hill on which we were standing. “It’s like an ongoing detective novel where we keep waiting for the author to reveal the murderer at the end of the book. What if the reveal is disappointing? Maybe it was someone who we were convinced was the culprit or maybe someone unexpected. That is life. A novel. Each one of our souls is a book. What happens to the books when we die?”
“We either get buried or cremated,” I said mockingly.
“I don’t mean that. I mean, our souls. Do the pages become blank once we die?” He said softly.
“What, you mean like reincarnation?” he looked back at me and nodded his head.
“How do you feel about that?” he asked. John often wanted to know my opinion on different things. Not that it ever changed his perspective. I guess he just wanted to know how different brains work.
“It’s kinda scary if I think about it...Imagine being reborn as the same person with the same personality and beliefs but in a different body. I could die tomorrow and be reborn in a rich family.”
“I don’t think that you’ll be the same person, though. The experiences that we went through define who we are and how we think. What if that rich family is abusive? Not necessarily with you but enough to make you think that violence is okay while growing up. Then you would be a rich kid with violence issues who doesn’t care about consequences and hurts anyone he needs to in order to get his way. Because he was taught that violence can solve anything and the consequences don’t matter.”
Usually, after deep conversations, we take a few moments to really think. Just think. The background noises were perfect for thinking, though. Lots of crickets all around us, owls softly hooting in the distance. It was moments like that that I was really going to miss. Moments when I thought to myself ‘my brother is going to be a genius someday’. Moments when I was curious about what his next theory or thought was going to be. Moments when I looked at him and how passionate he was about the things he loved. My brother was my inspiration in life and I sure hope he got the answers to all his questions.
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