I’ve loved you since the day you were born. We went through so much together. Then, things began to change and you pulled away. I didn’t know or understand the impact drugs would have on your life. The cycle it creates. The self loathing and despair and loneliness. I watched you struggle for 23 years. On again, off again, and I pulled away. I never stopped loving you, and I never refused the late night phones calls. I wanted to come save you so many times, but I knew it would end in fights, pleas, and resentment. I hated that you were on your own. So, it was a blessing to watch you find sobriety and get things in your life together. For the final three years, I got to watch you grow. I got to celebrate life with you, and we became closer than we had been even in childhood. I remember always wanting the “old” you back. Then, I realized that the old you had been so traumatized and beat down that it would have to be a new you, a wiser you, a more mature you. I was just so proud to watch you become this person who persevered, despite the set backs and the hang ups. I was so disappointed for you when the court decided they would hold the charges against you, even though you passed the UAs and you worked the program so diligently. It was only 18 months, and I thought if you could do what you had been doing for 3 years, this wasn’t insurmountable. I should have taken you home with me. I can think of a million things I could have done differently that day. If there was one day in the entirety of my existence so far that I want a do-over, it’s the Friday before you over dosed. It hovers over me like this black cloud, three years later. I justified my decision that day with “if he’s going to use, he’ll find a way, whether he’s with me, his girlfriend, or all alone. He needs to do this. He CAN do this”. I didn’t answer the phone because it said “restricted” and it was 10:26 pm. But, my gut was telling me something wasn’t right. The voicemail alert went off and it was an officer. I called back and he told me you had been found. In your bed. In your clean and sober apartment. I remember thinking I would just come get you, so I jumped up, pjs and nothing else and grabbed my keys and I remember the officer telling me to please calm down. I realized I had screamed. My legs didn’t work. I remember the way Dad stumbled in the driveway when he came after I called.I had to catch him and hold him up. It took me another 10 hours to get a hold of Mom. And the sound she made when I told her it was true- you were gone. I’ll never forget the pain in her cry. I stayed up all that Saturday night, numb, heart broken, simply unable to fathom that my little brother was gone. I had to plan everything- I never got to really grieve for you. I just stuffed it all down and kept telling myself my time to grieve would come. Watching our parents grieve for you is the absolute worst. And, all the while I blame myself. There’s a fine line between protecting and enabling. I’m just so grateful that the day before I got to hug you and tell you that I love you. I still feel the scream at the base of my throat. Right there in that soft space, and I’m terrified that if I let it go, it’ll never stop. We were supposed to grow old together and sit on the front porch with our coffee and laugh about all the stupid stuff we did when we were younger. You have nieces and nephews that miss you terribly. I wish you had known the impact you had on them and how much they love you. It all feels like yesterday, like I’m moving through this slow motion goop, still in the fog of grief. There’s a massive you shaped hole inside of me and the weight of it is sometimes unbearable. You helped create the foundation of who I am. All I’ve ever wanted is one more hug. One more laugh. One more car ride with the music blasting. One would never, ever be enough, of course. I know you’re at peace, you’re whole again, but I miss you, Bro.