February 7, 2008
“Josh, I love you so much. I am so sorry this had to happen to you. We miss you so much. How am I going to live without you? You were the Best brother in the entire world. Why did this happen to you? You are so kind. I love you so so much Joshie. I wish I could hug you and cuddle with you. I wish I could be with you one more time. I love you so much Joshie. You’ll stay in my heart forever. I love you.
Love always and forever, Natalie” –October 10, 2002 (My eulogy which I read at Josh’s funeral. Age 11)

As I walked out of the room, it never even crossed my mind that was the last time I would ever see my brother again. I skipped having breakfast with my family because I was more interested in going to my friend’s house to play. I walked down the suburban street to my friend's house, and at around 4:00 PM we went on a bike ride and I fell off my bike. At that moment I felt a sinking feeling in my heart. I knew something wasn't right and I felt really uncomfortable, but I quickly brushed it off. As we arrived back at her house her mom told me that my parents got held up so I had to stay for dinner. I got really excited because I loved eating at a friend’s house on a school night, especially on a Sunday which was usually a family dinner. After dinner my friend and I went downstairs to her playroom. I heard her mom yell down that I had a phone call. It was my mom, “Honey, we're at Evanston Hospital," she said, “Josh was hit by a car. Uncle Doug and Jamie are coming to pick you up." I leaned against the wall and sank to the floor as tears rolled down my cheeks. I saw an image of him being hit; maybe a broken arm or leg, or so I thought.

As I waited by the door for my cousin and my uncle, my friend’s mom explained to me that there was very serious brain damage and my brother was in surgery. I couldn't come to understand that this was actually happening. Things like this didn't happen to my family. I rode to the hospital in silence. Arriving at the Emergency Room my aunt met us and led us to the Intensive Care Unit. I saw my parents in the waiting room crying. I had never seen my parents so upset; I knew this was more serious than I thought. I was so overwhelmed, my stomach churning. I sat down as more family was arriving. My uncles left to pick my sister up from the airport. Alerted about the seriousness of the accident, she was quickly flying home from college.

The surgery was over; I sat and watched the doctor walk in, and clenched my stomach. "The surgery is through but it doesn't look good," he explained. I thought, “What's that supposed to mean? I still hadn't thought of the possibly of death. Death was so unfamiliar to me that I didn’t even understand that it could be a factor in my family. I went into his ICU room with my mom and dad full of fear and sadness. I sat down next to his head, grasping his hand hoping I could somehow help him. A nurse came in, she lifted his eyelid, and all I could see was emptiness. I observed him and he didn't look like my brother. His head was wrapped covering the stitches that closed his destroyed brain. His eyes were swollen and puffy, his face covered in scratches. The life support tube was in his mouth, keeping all the life left in him still going.

I went into the hall and got into a ball, holding my twisted stomach. Why was this happening? Why would anyone want to hurt my brother? He never did anything to deserve this. He was so innocent. He had walked to the candy store to get some candy while waiting to see his tutor, only to be turned away because they were closing early. As he walked back towards his tutor’s office, a car on the opposite side of the street did an illegal u-turn. Another car tried to avoid being hit, causing his car to hit a parked car and then to jump the curb onto the sidewalk, making a loud noise and causing Josh to turn around. The car accelerated instead of breaking, hit Josh head on, and threw him against a concrete wall. He fell to the ground unconscious. The lady in the parked car witnessed Josh being struck. The tears flowed as I thought about the accident and felt my once full heart emptied. Images of the past few days came into my mind.

I had rushed home from school to quickly put together the dough for my Halloween cookies. I stuck rich roll sugar cookie dough in the fridge to chill for a few hours. Later that night I rolled them out, punching out shapes of ghosts and pumpkins. I baked them and decorated them with white and orange icing, very satisfied with the perfection of my results. I laid them out to dry over night. The following day as my mom and I returned home from running errands, I found over half of my cookies to be gone. Furious, I ran to Josh's room screaming at him. He had eaten over 15 cookies, but I decided I could take it as a compliment considering he was a picky eater. I still have the rest of the cookies in a Ziploc bag in my freezer and every once in awhile when I feel sad, I’ll eat one. As I was going out with my mom again he came out and said to me, "Natalie, those cookies are so good. You should open a bakery when you're older and I'll support you. I can take care of you and give you money." I gave him a hug and thanked him, a very special moment that I’ll always remember and cherish. I guess I could say he is still supporting me, just differently than we had pictured.

That night Josh was home while my parents and I went out for dinner to Bob Chin's Crab house where I had lobster. Josh was deathly allergic to lobster and I felt so guilty eating it. I always feared that my eating peanuts, nuts or shellfish would cause a reaction for him. I was so paranoid that he might die from a reaction. I was always very protective of him and made sure no one ate any peanuts around him. Luckily, I didn't eat peanut butter, and I still don't to this day in his honor. When we got home from dinner, after I got ready for bed I called my sister, Caroline. I was talking to her, and Josh came in fighting for the phone. He grabbed the phone from me and I fought him for it. He, of course being stronger and bigger than I was, slammed me to the floor getting the phone. Once we got off the phone we went to his room, he sat down at his desk on his computer and I lay down on his bed. The only thing I can distinctly remember is teasing him about all the posters of girls in his room. His walls were decorated with sport pennants of every basketball team in the NBA, posters of blonde women lacking much clothing. His room smells like a boy. Scents of old sports cards and dirty gym clothes stick to the blue curtains. The carpet is plush deep blue, soft to the touch. The room always had a feeling of comfort; now it resembles a feeling of emptiness and sadness. Sometimes I go into his room and just look at everything in his room. It all resembles him so well and shows how happy he was and vibrant. That night we just laughed and talked. Our relationship was very good and we always had fun together, making up games and playing various sports. Although we did have typical sibling fights, we got along very well.

As Caroline walked down the hallway, my family went in to the hospital room together. The last time we had been together as a family had been two weeks before when we flew to Philadelphia to visit Caroline for my dad's birthday. It had been a really fun day and I am so lucky to have been able to have that day with our whole family one last time. As she fell to the ground, I listened to her painful wails and let my heart shatter into a million pieces unsure of its ability to be put back together. At this point we all knew what was coming. It was very late, around 1 a.m., and my parents insisted that my Nana and I go to her house and get some sleep. I don't remember sleeping or not, only sitting in silence. In the morning my Nana made me a piece of toast. I forced down a bite but I couldn't manage to eat anymore.

We drove to the hospital in nervousness knowing what might happen that day. I walked into the ICU room to see my parents and my sister crowded around Josh's bed, the doctor standing behind them. My mom cried, "We're letting him go, we waited for you." Six seconds later his heart stopped. My brother died around 11:00 a.m. on October 7, 2002. My brother, one of the most important people in my life, was gone. This wasn't happening; it wasn't fair. I sat with my sister in a small room as she called people telling them what had happened. My cousins came in crying. I sat thinking how my life was going to change; nothing would ever be the same.

Almost five years later, I'm a happy person, but my heart is still full with so much pain and grief. I've learned that the pain of loss never goes away; it only begins to heal into a scar. I feel that the most helpful things in dealing with losing Josh have been sleep-away camp, family and my friends. Camp has always been a getaway in life where I can put all my troubles away for two months and just be happy.

I can remember letting out a breath of relief I looked down at what I had accomplished. I couldn’t see where we had started. The sun began to dry my drenched t-shirt. I had just accomplished my least favorite thing in life. I hate hiking. I cry the whole way, but once I get to the top of the mountain I feel better than I ever do. My body tingles and I’m so happy I want to cry. The high can go on for days, literally. Climbing Mount Kathadin was something I knew I was going to do every since I was 10, and was something I didn’t want to do since I was 10. I love accomplishing things, as do most people. Camp gave me opportunities to do things I normally wouldn’t do, things I can always look back at and feel amazing and so happy. I’ve made friends from camp who are the most important people to me and I am most comfortable around. I never have to think around them. At camp I was always able to laugh until I was in tears or cry so hard I couldn't breathe.

Having people who are brother figures since Josh died has probably been one of the best things in my life to help me. When Josh first died, my cousin Jono, who looks very much like Josh and was a year younger than he, tried to act the way a brother would and I rejected him. It was very hard originally for me to just be around boys in general.

As I grew more mature I began to confide in my friend Gregoire, whom everyone calls Frenchy because he is originally from France. I put a lot on him: I told him all my problems, maybe a little too much for an 8th grade boy to handle. He helped me in my toughest times; he showed me that I needed to be happy. I don't know that I could ever repay him for what he's done for me. I can tell him anything…...Like the time I sat in my room crying my eyes out. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. The anxiety of the next day was building up. I was about to go to Amherst College. This would be my first summer in seven years not attending camp. I hated leaving home because it is a separation from Josh, there is no familiarity or reminders of him. I went to wake my mom and she attempted to calm me down, then telling me to go back to sleep. I went in to Josh’s room and lay on his bed. I bawled uncontrollably; my heart couldn’t handle the pain. I thought of why this had to happen; what did we do to deserve this pain.

Unable to rest, I went downstairs to the guest room where Frenchy, who was visiting from New York, was sleeping. I sat down on the bed and woke him. He asked me what was wrong and I just cried. He listened, assuring me that everything was going to be okay. I trust him and because he said it was going to be alright I knew it would be. I sat with him for an hour crying and telling him everything that was on my mind. “I don’t want to put too much on your shoulders. Having you is so important to me because it’s like having a brother,” I told him. “Nat, it’s not too much. I just never would want to re-,” he started to say.

“You could never replace him. No one could, but I still really appreciate everything you do.” He's my best friend, and one of the closet things I have to a brother. I hope that in our friendship I've given him something too, because amongst all the bad times he deserves everything I could give to him. He moved two years ago and I remember feeling like I had lost another brother. I'm so grateful that we've stayed so close, in many ways we have gotten closer because our friendship stands alone, away from all of the high school drama. I often depend on him too much, remembering that although we are like siblings, he's still just a teenage boy and it is a lot for him to handle amongst his own life. I often forget that he doesn't need to know every detail and realize that even if we aren't talking a lot, that doesn't mean he doesn't care about me and that our friendship is not less important. I'm really glad to have him in my life and I don't know what I would have done without his support. I’m really lucky to have someone like Frenchy in my life that can be there for me the way a brother would be.

Having someone like Frenchy in my life has been a huge help in dealing with the loss of Josh. I am fortunate that there are people I can always talk to who give me the feeling of having a brother and who help keep memories of Josh alive, although no one could ever replace him or be nearly so special.

Throughout all of this, the most difficult things for me have been talking about Josh with my parents and my sister and telling new people about him. When meeting new people I constantly get the, "Oh, it's just the two of you? That's such a huge age difference." I just nod and giggle a little. I can't seem to say that I lost my brother and he was in the middle of my sister and me. As much as I want to, I can't say it without crying or feeling uncomfortable. I know it’s really unfair to him to not tell people he existed but it's a very tender subject for me and I feel people don't always understand just how hard it is for me. I don't like seeing people’s reactions.

When I’m with my family I can't even mention Josh. If he's brought up I simply say that I don't want to talk about him at the time. If I’m really sad because I miss him, I don't tell my parents that is the reason. I only go in his room if I'm home alone. I go to the cemetery with my friend, Maddy, whose mother died a few years ago and is buried at the same cemetery as Josh. I think I have trouble talking to my family about it because I don't want them to know I’m in pain and I don't like to see them get upset. For the first year, my parents were always crying. My dad cried at almost every meal, my mom cried in public, and it was really hard on me because I have trouble seeing my parents so weak. There are still multiple days a week where my dad doesn't get out of bed until after noon.

Above all, I am scared of forgetting about him. More and more, my memories are becoming a blur. His voice becomes unclear, his face becomes faint. I hate knowing that I’m spending more and more time without him in my life. But I know he would want me to go on and be happy. That is why I have to be happy. I am happy, for him. He always has a special place within my heart. I'll never go a day without thinking about him and honoring his memory. I miss you Joshie, I love you.

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback