Another year gone, Brother.
You've been gone a while now, sometimes I forget how long, all I know is so many years have passed without hearing your voice. So many years spent wondering what you'd be like now, how you would interact with your nephews and how you would handle your autism and learning difficulties as a grown man. You died so young that I was still only a kid when it happened.
Though we'd lost our much-loved Grandad a few years earlier, I'd never really considered how it would feel to lose someone who wasn't supposed to go; a seemingly healthy 17 year old, someone who had already battled the difficulties of trying to overcome being different, a 17 year old but someone who was so much younger in mind, like losing a small child, not a teenager.
It's been years now and I've written about you; about how you passed, about our life as a family and about the things that made you, you, but I want to write about now; how it feels, the thoughts I have so many years after losing you. I have two boys now, I'm sure you know—I see you in them often. Especially Archie, he's an absolute live wire who shares your comedic qualities (and some of the erratic ones too); it's so fitting that we honoured him with your name.
I'm a different person now. I felt grief in a hundred different ways when we lost you. I never thought that I would experience a real-life horror movie at 20 and I wondered if I would ever recover, but thanks to the boys and my family, I have, enough to remember the good before the tragedy, they help to heal my heart every day. I talk about you often and Archie has recently started saying 'Connor' when I ask him who we're visiting at the cemetery. I hear footsteps on the landing to see both boys fast asleep and I wonder if you're watching over them for me.
I want you to know that we'll never forget you. That my boys will know you, as much as I'm able to convince them of you as a person, and they'll know that you were different and that it didn't make you any less of a person, if anything it made you more. Mum & Dad miss you as much as they did the day you left, even more so, but the boys help them too and I think you probably know that. We find comfort in the fact you'd be with Grandad; a man who was so kind and who understood you in a way others couldn't, someone who loved you for everything you were and are.
It'll be another new year soon; another anniversary of your death, another birthday we're not able to celebrate with you, another Halloween you would've loved and another Christmas without you pinching the chocolates off of the tree and opening my presents instead of your own (I forgive you). Another year since I've left home and started my own family, another year our childhood is left behind and another year of remembering you instead of seeing you.
Another year we'll live for you,
The heart you left behind, xo