I remember the day you were born, just as I remember the day you died. I also have such fond memories of our time in between those two days. You were only here for 17 years, but you were a massive part of my life for that time.
Growing up next door to 3 boys was always an adventure. We all lived in each others pockets, often sneaking out before our respective parents woke up, to hang out and ride bikes or shoot hoops or any of the other awesome things we often did together.
As the youngest, you had four of us to look out for you. You were my littlest brother. We shared a lot in common as you grew up. I introduced you to my music and later, we shared a love for dance music. We taught you to ride a bike, something that you later took one step further, being able to ride and do tricks competitively. We swam and swam and swam, boy we spent so much time in that pool. Our families often merged into one as we all celebrated things like birthdays and christmas, or we just had a bbq dinner in summer.
It seemed so idyllic, but I never realised that underneath your smiling facade something dark lurked.
That day I was going to come up and say hello. But I ran out of time. It didn’t matter, I’d drop in later in the week.
That night, when my phone rang and my Dad uttered those awful words, my world turned upside down and I fell to the floor, sobbing. My littlest brother, the most gentle and happy soul, dead. Suicide. I could not fathom it, I still cannot fathom it. How did I not realise? Why did you not reach out to me? What was so awful that you felt you could no longer be part of this world? So many questions that I will never have the answer to.
Yours was the first dead body I ever saw. And I will never forget that surreal feeling. Like your eyes would just fly open and you’d sit bolt upright and shriek SURPRISE! at me. It would all just be a big mistake. Only it wasn’t. And your skin was so cold, and you were so unmoving. This was real.
I still call your family my family. Your brothers are still my little brothers. I often stop and wonder what you would be like, how your life may have turned out.
I have 17 years of beautiful Joel memories. Tomorrow (Thursday) you would have been 31 years old. In an alternate world somewhere you’re still alive, hanging out with my Mum, content with your place in the world.
I miss you, my littlest brother from another mother (& father).