One day your life will flash before your eyes, make sure it’s worth watching.

What would you do if tragedy struck someone you love? Would you be prepared? Grief is a powerful thing. One second you can be laughing and happy, and then in a split second it’s right there. In the snap of your fingers it’s a tear in your eye. Losing someone you love changes you; sometimes for the better, but sometimes the darkness consumes you and you never really find your way out.

My brother and I had the typical brother/sister relationship growing up. I can’t honestly say that I remember much but we always looked pretty happy in pictures. Justin and Kari would never play Scrabble with me because I would make up words, to this day I still suck at Scrabble and I blame them. As we got older we fought more, there were a few incidents where he’d get angry and hit me. But I was always there to bring him a glass of water when he was hung over. Then once we were in high school it changed, he acknowledged me at school as his little sister even if it was just to ask me for lunch money, he made sure no one messed with me and would even sometimes hangout with me when we were home alone. I always looked up to him and not just because he was taller than me; he had strength in him that was undeniable. There was a side to him that not many people had the chance to see. He was dependable, he was adventurous, and he was a true friend. Justin did what a brother, son and friend should do; he cared.

May 17, 2008 was the worst day of my life, and I remember everything about that day. It’s been five years since Justin died. Sometimes I still wait around for it to hit me. Justin is dead. He’s gone. I can keep telling myself that but yet sometimes, even after 5 years, I don’t believe it. I can talk about him now and smile, but I also have days where I can talk about him and it’s that instant rush of emotions causing me to feel a hole where my heart had been just moments ago. I was only 16 when we lost Justin. I was a kid; I wasn’t supposed to feel that kind of lose. I had to be strong and hold it together for the sake of my mom but sometimes I couldn’t. As cliché as it sounds, going through this showed me who my true friends were; who would always be there and who was never really there to begin with. Losing my brother has made it incredibly difficult to allow myself to become attached to another person; it makes you see how fast they can be gone. Losing him has made me a little insensitive because I hate the awkward silence in a sad moment. My brother was one of the biggest influences on my life; I wouldn’t be where I am today or who I am today if it weren’t for Justin. He taught me to be who I am and do what makes me happy, make your life extraordinary, never be afraid, be adventurous, take chances, be smart, have fun but most of all losing him taught me to be strong.

Justin never got to live the life he deserved, so I’ll live the rest of my life doing everything I can to make him proud. I don’t know exactly what I would say to him if I had the chance, but I would make sure that he knows that I love him and I will carry him with me. If tragedy has ever struck someone you love, I applaud you for making it through it. You’re stronger than you know.

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