Four years ago I stood in Disneyland during my college Spring Break and got the worst phone call of my life. My mom kept saying, “Don’t freak out, don’t freak out” and I immediately thought I was in trouble, or messed up somehow, or someone was angry with me.
The words she then said didn’t exactly register immediately, you know? Like, especially when you’re standing in Disneyland with your friends - it’s a striking contrast to the news you’re getting. The news that your 18 year old cousin took his own life.
I remember crumbling to the ground saying, “No” repeatedly and sobbing. Families looked at me disturbed because I was interrupting their Disney day, and the friends I was with looked confused and shocked.
Everything was a blur until my sister (who, at the time, was attending college in California) and I flew home the next day to be with our families.
Suicide is this bizarre, freaky thing that exists and destroys families. My cousin taking his life was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. Especially because I’m from an extremely tight-knit Italian/Puerto Rican family. We all live within 10 minutes of one another and I saw my cousin often. I grew up with him, spent holidays and birthdays and random summer pool days with him - there are memories linked specifically to him, home videos where he’s walking around and you want to just reach through the television and hold him and say “Hey. Hey, please don’t.”
You sit with family and sift through picture after picture - these moments instantly captured that are preserved for years. You trace them with your fingers, looking into the eyes of a person who isn't breathing anymore. They are no longer on the Earth and that's what makes my eyes burn more than anything - how, how can that be? One day they are within reach and the next you can't talk to them.
He left a little brother and a mom and dad and a family and friends and this world. It just sucks because you want to talk about it - you want to know what went through his mind, you want to know why why why and you can’t so you’re left just standing there feeling this deep hole in your chest.
I miss Dominic so much and sometimes it hits me in the strangest way - it’ll hit me just at night and I can’t sleep and I’ll think about him. Grief is strange.
It’s hard because right now sadness & depression & other things that aren’t fun to talk about are belittled. It’s cool to not have emotions and it’s cool to not talk about real things. But I don’t know, maybe we SHOULD be talking about it.
I hate today because I miss Dom but also today reminds me to just LOVE everyone I know. LOVE them and let them know and just not care if they don’t want to hear it or deal with it. Life SERIOUSLY IS SO FLEETING AND PRECIOUS. Like, do we all understand that?? Because once we DO understand that we can live freely. We can let go of these stupid anxieties we have about mindless bull and realize HEY! This is the life we have, it is a gift, so can we please do something with it?
My faith in God is complicated. Some days I feel it so strongly and others I want to hide and not deal with it and I push it away, farther and farther until it feels like it's not there at all.
But I know God exists the way I know that I can feel the wind, taste the salt in the ocean air, the way I can hold someone's hand or stay rooted in a hug that is the most comforting thing in the world. Faith is messy and scary and confusing but I will never doubt that God exists. So, God. I know lately I haven't been the praying kind. I know I mess up and am selfish and sometimes think too much about me. But I'm asking you to hold my aunt and uncle and Paul so tight - I'm asking you to ease their grief and ease all of our grief. And I don't care if that's a pointless prayer because this pain is so deep - I'm still gonna pray it anyway.