The 4th of July in the United States commemorates an important moment in history for our country, the day we declared our independence from Great Britain. Many, many soldiers fought for this freedom, and continue to ensure it ... words cannot express (nor would they do justice) the gratitude I have for these sacrifices.
The 4th of July is supposed to be a happy day - a day spent with family and friends, barbecuing hot dogs, burgers, ribs, chicken, steak ... eating potato salad, corn on the cob ... watching fireworks light up the sky ... and of course, beer consumption.
For me, sadly there is another part of the 4th ... it's the day my older brother chose to end his life. Still, to this day, it is surreal to me. Sometimes, I still can't believe it happened. Maybe it's my brain trying to protect me and deny this ever happened ... I don't know.
I do know that it was a very traumatic period in my life. Unfortunately, when my brother chose to end things 16 years ago today, he didn't really take into account this "easy way" out of things, really wasn't "easy" for anybody else but himself.
I was so mad at him for doing what he did ... I can't even conjure the words to describe how mad I was ... and sometimes, the anger still lingers. I was probably more filled with anger than I was with misery and depression. How could my parents' first-born son do this to them? What the heck was he thinking? How could he be such a coward (a man who was built like a brick shit-house, by the way)?
My parents still suffer from this ... deep down inside, they think it's their fault, and they should've been able to do something to save and protect him. It breaks my heart. The year after he died, my mom came into my room, and asked me if I knew what today is. Of course I did. My mom broke down crying in my arms ... THAT is something that never should happen. Roles were reversed, and it sent shock-waves through my body. Part of me wanted to dig up his grave and beat the crap out of him.
It took me 5 whole years to visit his grave, by the way. The anger has subsided. I've learned to forgive him, thanks to many, many days, nights, weeks, and years of "counseling" from my very close friends ... I'm lucky to have them, and probably will never be able to thank them enough for helping me through.
But, sometimes through these difficult times, you need to look for the "rays of sunlight," or the bright spots. First and foremost, I have put more of a focus on staying close with my family - my younger brother and I are very close, and it means the world to me. Second, I found out how good my friends really are - I wish it was under different circumstance, but sometimes it's critical/crucial situations when the best in your friends comes out.
I don't take life for granted anymore, and I try not to hold grudges (a difficult thing for someone who is stubborn as an ox). The 4th will never be the same for me, but in some ways, hanging out with friends and families, things are better and more special.