Be a Better You.
Beauty, Health, Pregnancy, Fitness, Well-Being
By: Kellie Matijasevic
When I was 26, my younger brother, who was my only sibling, died. The day the phone rang at 5am on June 25th, 2006 was the most impactful day of my life. In the fog of “is this real”, “am I dreaming”, “are they sure” turned into a state of shock. Ironically, the rest of my life would then be measured by before Christopher and after Christopher.
He was the ultimate sidekick of my childhood. The only other person who knew what it was like to grow up with our specific parents, in our particular house. His laugh was contagious. His heart was genuine. His personality was fulfilling.
Sixteen months apart, his friends were my friends and my friends were his friends. I played soccer, he played soccer. It was an unspoken respect for each other. We both had different perspectives and facets of sibling protection. It was awesome. He was awesome.
I would go on to college at Texas Tech in Lubbock. He would go on to college at UCSB in Santa Barbara, of course. He was the smart overachieving kind of little brother. Student body president, homecoming king, fraternity president, law student, hot girlfriends, tons of friends, you name it he made it happen.
Everyone asks how your parents and their partner are, but everyone seems to forget about you. It’s as if you are not important. Your role is to provide support to everyone else. To plan the funeral and handle the estate because your parents simply just can’t. It’s an interesting place to be.
How was I supposed to be strong for my parents? My parents would never be the same. Neither would I.
A sibling gives you the chance to develop a relationship based on friendship with someone who has known you their whole life. I know that my relationship with my brother was changing as he died. Although he was my younger brother, his wisdom at times made him appear to be my older brother. He guided me. I guided him. I struggled that this had been taken away from me. I struggled that I would never see him get married, have children, or grow old so I could tease him about certain things we always used to joke about. I struggled he would never meet my children, I would never be an aunt to blood nieces and nephews, we would never vacation or celebrate another holiday together.
My parents would then go on to divorce. Statistics are unbelievable when it comes to marriage and the loss of a child. A near 80% divorce rate. The grief was just unbearable. My father was an alcoholic. A drunk driver killed my brother. I guess you could say it was inevitable.
The months and years to follow were intense and agonizing. My brother took his last breath crossing a street in San Diego. I lived in Dallas at the time, my parents in Albuquerque. We traveled to San Diego for every court hearing, sentencing, advocating for him. Newspaper and TV reporters interviewed me. It was an experience I never thought I would ever have. But I did.
As time went on I felt myself beginning to change. These were the life cards I was dealt. I knew the grief would never go away, but I was able to start finding a new perspective on life. A better one and it came with forgiveness. It started there anyway. It was the only way I could go on. The alternative was just too painful. From then on, I chose to hang out with the people that made me better, made me laugh and kept it real. I got rid of the negativity. I traveled, I took those chances I probably wouldn’t have taken B.C. I started truly living and with a new outlook that tomorrow may never come. Life is short. Collect the moments. I am grateful. I am grateful I had the time I did with him. I am grateful he taught me the true meaning of forgiveness. I am grateful he taught me how to live.
About the author
Kellie was an Account supervisor for ad agency and medical sales rep turned domestic Goddess. She is an amazing friend, wife, mother of 3 and daughter. Kellie and I (Monica) met 20 years ago when we both pledged the same sorority at Texas Tech. She played soccer at Tech and had a special gift of making everyone feel loved. We became instant friends. She was even a bridesmaid in my wedding back in 2001. In 2006, her brother was killed by a drunk driver. Heartbroken does not describe it - it was truly devastating. I asked Kellie to write about her loss, hoping it could help others.