After you lose someone


Senior Faith McCurdy and her brother 13 years ago at their childhood home on Christmas Eve. Every year, as a “McCurdy tradition,” they would sit in front of the fire place listening to “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway in their Blues Clues and Barney towels.

Faith Mccurdy, Design Editor

It’s hard sometimes. People surprisingly always bring up their siblings: it’s a common thing for people to bond over. “They were so annoying last night.” “They always do this and it sucks so much.” “They’re just a jerk sometimes.”
I always try to join the conversation, bringing up stories about my two and three year old sisters, but only sometimes do I mention my older brother. It’s been too long for me to actually remember the little nit-picky stories like that.
When looking back on memories, it’s hard not to make everything sound over exaggerated and picture perfect. Everyone always wants to remember the good and forget the bad.
When my brother passed away, I was about to start eighth grade. He was going to be a junior. Three years older, and almost a foot taller. When I think back to remember him, I want to always remember the good times.
When he took me out to Daniels Park on the 4th of July, when he drove me for the first time in his, now my, beat up Acura, when we used to watch Naruto, and play Minecraft together in his room. Those are the memories I cherish.
But I can never think about him too long. When I do, I think of the last words he said to me. I think of the last smile I saw on his face. I think of the last time I saw his pale, resting face with his eyes closed, unmoving.
There are thousands and thousands of people that pass away every year from suicide, and it’s hard. We look at the amount of people, and it makes us cry. But it’s more than that. Each individual has their own story and family that gets forgotten within the numbers themselves.
Today, there are suicides everywhere.; everyone’s been affected by them. Those of us that experienced the second semester last school year know firsthand the effect that suicide has on a school, on a community.
It’s not something we talk about enough. The individuals, the lasting effects. It’s not one thing that happens that hurts us for a while then we forget or move on. I may not cry everyday about it anymore, but I can’t drive past Lincoln and Yosemite, or drive up to Daniels Park, or watch really cheesy anime in his old bean bag chair anymore because all of these things remind me of him.
My biggest dream as a child was having a family and kids and coming back to Colorado to visit my brother, their uncle, and talking about all the crazy stories we had and would have had growing up. Now I can’t even imagine having a family or kids without them knowing him.
It’s something that permanently influences how someone lives their life, how I live my life. Day to day, but also year by year, and it will probably continue decade by decade. I think about him in every interaction and in every decision I make. It hurts so many people, including me, in mental, physical, and emotional ways. It’s a lot harder and more hurtful than people think.
I look at my dad, and I see the way his eyes gloss over whenever he sees photos of my brother on his laptop. I look at my mom and see how her health has physically gotten worse since the loss of my brother. When I go to family reunions, I see the way they always leave an open spot next to me because they know that’s where he would sit. It’s the little things that feel weird; they don’t always feel necessary, but they at least acknowledge my brother. They remember him, and I notice that.
I’ve had random people come up to me and text me talking about how much they loved my brother. People that I’ve never met follow me on Instagram because they knew my brother. I see the way people cared about him and how they’ve transformed their love for him into a love for me. I can recall every time that someone has reached out to me, telling me that my brother has impacted them in ways I could never understand.
When I was a freshman, my brother would have been a senior, so all his friends knew who I was. It was hard to see them graduate knowing that my brother would have been there. It was hard hearing them announce names, and having his not be one of them. It was hard seeing all his friends with their gowns and diplomas taking pictures without him. It’s still hard.
Now being a senior myself, I look at these moments knowing my brother never experienced them. I’ve thought about the different people I’m graduating with, and I’ve known some people from elementary school and even preschool for over 13 years. I didn’t even know my brother for that long. How can I have known random people from school longer than I’ve known my own brother?
It’s hard for me to think about it. It hurts to feel like I don’t even know my brother that well. Suicide is the hardest thing I’ve ever struggled with. And the effects of it last. It runs in my family. I struggled with suicidal thoughts, my brother has, my friends have. All of it affects me now.
Still to this very day, it feels so suffocating. The thought of people I do and don’t know, having to go through something so evil. I get so nervous I can’t breathe. I’m so terrified of the thought of losing someone close to me, or the thought of someone having to go through what I did. It haunts me. It scares me more than anything.
People tend to talk to me about it because they know I’m more understanding than those who have never experienced something like this, but it still scares me. I want to be there for them, but it scares me because I want to help but sometimes I feel so helpless. I don’t want to regret anything with others the way I do with my brother and with my own life.
A lot of people still always ask me if I have any regrets. I still don’t know how to answer that. It was hard for me to notice anything. My brother always wanted to protect me and would never tell me anything about how he having a hard time. I never saw the stereotypical signs because he was so good at hiding them away so his little sister didn’t have to see him hurting.
I didn’t notice. My brother always said I was the one he was closest to out of everyone in the world. But I didn’t notice. I felt like I didn’t do anything. I felt like I had failed him. He was always there for me when I needed him, but I couldn’t be there when he needed me.
When it first happened I blamed myself, and I know a lot of other people blamed me too, even without meaning to. Even now, I know in my brain that it’s not true, but in my heart it’s hard to feel like I’m not the one to blame. It still eats at me every day when I think about him.
Even now when writing this, it hurts and I hesitate every time I have to change something he did from present to past tense.
My brother passed away when I was twelve. He was sixteen. After it all happened, I never thought I would live to be past sixteen myself. I never thought I had it in me to keep going. I never wanted to be somewhere where my brother wasn’t.
Now I’m seventeen, and I’m scared to graduate this year. It’s the biggest step I’m having to take where I don’t have my brother as an example to look up to. He went through everything before I did. I always had someone to set an example for me to follow. But now, I don’t have that. I always wanted to follow in his footsteps, but they’ve stopped here. Now I need to take the first step on my own.
The greatest honor is when teachers who have had him or family members talk about how much I remind them of him. From the way I speak, to the jokes I make, to the way I act around others: they reflect my brother. Of course he did some questionable things and made mistakes, but the way he handled them is what makes me admire him so much.
Every time something happened that was his fault, he admitted his mistakes and owned up to his faults. He was as human as the rest of us. He was as human as me. The way he acted was not perfect, but it was genuine and he always tried to improve who he was. I used to hate being compared to him because I always felt like I was less than him, but I’ve moved past my selfish mindset to see that it’s truly a compliment.
He was a perfect student in all honors and AP classes. He was an amazing musician at saxophone and piano. He was a superstar athlete in wrestling and football. He was the nicest stranger to others. He was the funniest person to everyone around him. But most importantly, he was the best older brother I could ever ask for. With everything I do, I want to reflect him, and I owe every success to him.
Zachariah Lane McCurdy. My number one role model.