What has happened seems impossible to me. Losing three loved ones unexpectedly in a month, in the blink of an eye is devastating beyond belief.

My three big brothers… Greg, who loved everyone and made sure everyone knew it. Wayne, with such a sweet soul, who never said a bad word about anyone in his life. Also Ronnie, two years older then me but always felt to me like my cute little brother. How many times can a heart be shattered?

Every night I go to bed tired and yet I lay there thinking for hours. I’ve cried some nights until my eyes swelled shut. I’ve questioned a God that would do this, and the belief I had that everything happens for a reason. It doesn’t. To say they are in a better place or that one day some good will come from this, is just hurtful. They should be here with us, they belong here.

And the weird thing is that life is suppose to go on. I’m expected to be officially done mourning and carry on. After the funeral, its to be business as usual. People go home, and its over for them. Not for me, it kind of just started then. How can you see or speak to someone everyday, and then never again? I’ve lost people that were so familiar, so much a part of my life, that I don’t know who i am without them. I don’t feel like me anymore. I’m not me. Losing people that you love, that you always expected to be there leaves this huge hole that I swear I can physically feel ache deep in my chest. How do I just move on?

I have no idea how to live through it. I think about moving away so I wont have to face people that knew them. I see the hurt in their eyes, the knowing. And so I wont have to remember seeing them in places where my eyes play tricks on me and someone reminds me of one of them. And I look and look until I realize what I’m doing. I think when someone you love dies and your not expecting it, sometimes briefly it feels like they’re not gone, but with each memory or reminder it feels like you are losing them in pieces. I guess in a sense they die over and over again, and likely will for the rest of my life, because love is forever.

If you have ever lost someone you love and wanted one more talk with them, one more chance, a few more minutes, then don’t lose that chance with those around you now. You can go wishing your whole life that you could make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever. Most people wont, but I’m telling you if I learned anything from this is that nothing other then the people you love in life are all that matter. Its a fucking crime to waste energy on anything else, then what you were given. They can be gone in an instant, so make it matter, don’t be the one wishing you had more time. Because when it happens, that IS all you will think about.

In time, I’m told, I wont feel so bad. But really I don’t want to be healed, there’s a reason I’m like this. As painful as things can be, I’d rather that then forget them. I don’t think you ever completely get over a loss of a loved one, they live forever in your broken heart, in that hole. I hope to get to a point where I can talk about them without tearing up or losing my breath, but I won’t let them go, I won’t move on. Ill take it as it comes and absorb it as I do.

I’m not the same anymore, and my work will certainly change. I’m sure I turned some people off by bringing my camera to the funeral of my three brothers. Actually, Greg and I had talked about it before at funerals we attended together, and the last one we went to he had called me a chicken for not bringing it. It’s not what I wanted, but at least i wasn’t chicken. I personally don’t have a problem with cameras at a funeral. I believe it should be documented as a birth is or the rest of your lives. It’s a cycle. I just never had the nerve to do it. When my mom and sisters and I sat with my brother Ronnie when he was passing, and I asked the nurse to remove the tubes from his throat when he was gone, my mother jumped up and asked me to take his picture. I did with my cell phone, crying so hard I could barely see. So the last months I’ve shot the accident site where my brothers were killed and documented all we could, I photographed my dead brother Ronnie, and then all three of them being buried. That changed my heart, and my passion for photography forever.

When those you love die, the best you can do is honor them for as long as you live, learn from them, cherish them, keep them alive in you. And maybe in this way, at least for me, I wont have to say goodbye to them. I can’t ever say goodbye to them.

Valerie

To be a rock and not to roll.