June 1 will mark the anniversary of my little brother’s death. He was 17 and planning to attend Syracuse University later that year. I would have been at Cornell, and he at Syracuse. Tears flow as I remember my best friend ever. We were always there for each other. I loved him but I don’t think I ever told him so. Love was not a word I heard growing up.
A wave of sadness drowns my heart and soul this time of year. It never fails. Would my life be different if I still had my best friend? At 17, a motorist who didn’t even bother to stop killed him and got away with it. I miss him deeply, and it’s hard for me to remember our times together without a floodgate of tears. His life mattered.
We were poor and had each other. My little brother often came with me if I went out with friends. Once he turned 16, he wasn’t little anymore. He spouted up like the tree in Jack and the Beanstalk.
We lived in the slums of NYC, and in those days, we were scapegoats for society’s ill by Democrats and Republicans. Living in a white supremacist society meant confinement to targeted neighborhoods. But we were too young to care or understand.
We thought summers were torture because we had nothing to do. There was no escaping the poverty surrounding us. We peered at people on the streets from the fire escape. There was always entertainment in the form of disputes at our doorstep. Yet we found joy and moments of laughter and comfort in knowing we had each other.
I remember going bowling, ice skating, rollerblading, and to the movies with my brother. My first time bowling was a comedy. One of my last memories of him was riding the subway to take me to the Greyhound bus station so I could return to college. He kissed me on the cheeks, and it felt weird because we rarely expressed affection. Now it’s one of my most treasured memories.
The anniversary of a loved one’s death is challenging as grief resurfaces. It’s like a clock in the mind that activates grief. I feel out of sorts in the days leading up to and after the anniversary. Yesterday, I woke in the middle of the night and cried uncontrollably, tears flowing throughout the day. I called my mother, and the next thing you know, I was on the phone with my brothers and mother reliving the moment and sweet memories of him. We celebrated his life.
As hard as it is to relive, I never want to forget the memories. My beloved brother Gary Grant, may he rest in power. He is my guardian angel.
Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form. -Rumi