Zachary Ryan Bowden. My oldest brother and best friend. We didn’t start off as best friends, no. Of course I was the weird little sister who has cooties. At that age we didn’t speak unless it was him making fun of me calling me meg or something else stupid. He was the cool one. The ring leader. The big brother all of my other big brothers and I aspired to be. He was always responsible. Always saved his money up smart to get something cool. Started his retirement savings at the age of 16! Not to mention he was handsome and certainly had his fair share of girl friends. We started bonding with each other a lot more when I turned about 14. His girlfriends would come over and I’d score him points by being the sweet little sister who says “oh he’s said so much about you, you’re all he talks about”. I’d give him advice. Then at about 16 I tried my first Smirnoff and we started becoming the best friends that we are. We partied together, mixed friend groups, and really just had a hell of a time. We also shared our sadness with each other. Our depression. What it was like to feel isolated and alone in a room full of people. What it was like to want to change and feeling incapable and defeated by the idea. What it was like to drive to work everyday with the thought of pulling the steering wheel and ending it all in a split second. What it was to feel pain. We showed one another that maybe we’re not alone if we still have each other. Someone else on this planet knows exactly how we feel and we can rely on one another. We hid our emotions from our family members. Kept it confidential. We didn’t want to worry our parents. We didn’t want to be perceived in a negative light. Just another cry baby teenager with sad boy complex. One night Zachary called me at four in the morning. Crying. Of course I went over to his to consol him. He talked again about all of his emotions lately. He even told me that he sits every night in the same place before going to bed. Next to his night stand with knees to chest holding his hand gun his dad has bought him for hunting that Christmas held right up against his left temple. Loaded and cocked. He’d sit there and cry for an hour trying to decide if he wanted to. If it was worth it. That night after he told me that it really hit me like a ton of bricks…. I knew exactly how he felt. I made him promise me, swear even, that he wouldn’t kill him self and he did. So naturally, sobbing, I promised too. I felt burdened by the promise, shackled even. Shackled to the earth to live out my sentence. I had made a promise after all. One month later on September 4th, 2017 he sat. Sat with knees to chest next to his bed side table with the gun cocked and loaded pointed at his left temple, tears streaming. And shot. At 11pm. I was angry. At him. Mostly at myself. Guilty. Alone. Really alone. Now I live out my days shackled still but stronger. With a tattoo on my left wrist “ i promise ;”. I hate the tattoo. I regret getting it. It’s like something to laugh in my face just ever present on my body. A year earlier I had witnessed my grandfather die of cancer right in my arms. But nothing could prepare me for the sting of my brothers death. I lost a piece of my heart. Forever. Just this year, 2019 my mother died. Drug overdose. She never really was a mom but I so desperately wanted her to be. It was hard. And now, just a few months after my mother, my grandmother is dying of cancer and of course I’m the one forced by her side to witness it. It does bother me but not to the extent it should. I’m simply numb. That’s what a lifetime of trauma and misery at the young age of 20 can do to a person. Numb them. I have to live out my days. Knowing that the last shred of happiness and innocence I may have had died with Zachary that night of September 4th.