My Brother

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

My little brother was born on May 31, 1983 in Ft. Wainwright, Alaska. His name was Thomas. I don't remember the day he was born, as I was still so young as well. We were only fourteen months apart. But he was my best friend growing up. He was tragically killed on December 4, 2017, on his way to work that cold Monday morning. It will be a day in our lives we will never forget. We will never forget when we were told he was pronounced dead at the scene. We never even got to say goodbye until his funeral. He told my mother he was coming over that evening after work for dinner to visit with her. But he never got the chance to show up that night.

I had been wanting to write this sooner, but I hadn't. It's been a little over a month now that we have been learning to deal with him no longer being with us. I'm crying as I write these words. It hurts so bad. I don't think I can ever get over the pain that eats away at my soul. All I do is think about the two of us together and the memories we had growing up.

He was very special. I look back and think about everything from my very first memory, and everything is running in a circle in my head. As if his life keeps flashing before my eyes non-stop...especially at night when I'm lying alone in bed. I cry so much thinking about the horror and tragedy of his death. Of how scared he must have been....the pain he may have felt. Why is this happening to our family? Why out of every second in the world, did it have to happen at that exact moment? I keep thinking why didn't his alarm not go off that morning so he could have been late leaving for work? What if he left for work two minutes earlier?

Would he still be alive? I know he would have been. The police told us that the only good thing to be thankful for was that he did die instantly and would have felt no pain. If there were any moments of him surviving, it would have been just seconds. But then I think those seconds, was he screaming? Was he crying? But they said they are honestly sure it was so instant, he would have never known it happened. And that is the only thing I'm glad for because I can't imagine thinking anything else. That scares me and hurts me so greatly to think he suffered.

As the tears are now hitting my keyboard more and more, I just wish so bad he was still here. He was a good person. He was so happy with everything in his life. He finally met the girl he was going to marry. The only girl he ever cared for and loved and he wanted to start a life with her. He had a good job he loved so much and was a very hard worker. Everyone enjoyed being around him. He also made sure that every stray animal he came across found a home.

The morning of December 4, 2017, keeps playing out in my head like a broken record. I remember waking up around 6:10am to get ready for work and my children off to preschool. The tv was already turned on and the 6:00 news was showing. As I was getting dressed, I glanced over at the tv when I started hearing a news report about a fatal car crash on a major road outside of town. This road is always having reports of crashes. As I took two seconds to look at the tv, I saw an image of a white car, the majority of it covered under a tarp and the police talking about the accident.

I turned off the tv and continued to finish getting myself ready. All I remember thinking to myself was, "Man, not another freaking accident on that road. What is up with these stupid drivers?" ..... little did I ever stop to even think once, I just saw what was left of my little brother's car under a tarp on tv. And I went to work as normal.

It wasn't until I went on my lunch break at noon that I saw a text from my parents telling me to call them ASAP. They had just left earlier that morning to go to Kentucky, which is twelve hours away. I called a bit perplexed why they didn't just call my desk phone at work if they needed to talk to me so bad.

Needless to say, that's when I found out that the car crash I had seen earlier that morning on the news was what was left of my brother and his car. I started screaming, running down three flights of stairs to my boss's office and just collapsed screaming and crying, "My brother's dead!!... my brother's dead!! He was my baby brother"..... I just remember the ladies grabbing me and holding me as I just screamed in their arms.

My parents rushed back home as best as fast as they could. But the timing wasn't important anymore to anyone because there was nothing anyone could do since he was pronounced dead when police and medics arrived on scene. So there as no hope of having ay final moments with him or seeing him or talking to him, praying for a miracle. He was gone on impact.

How it happened was he was driving to work. It was still very dark outside and the road has no lights, no stop signs, nothing.... it's just a long, dark stretch of road that runs about 35 miles long. The speed limit is 60 mph I believe. But people who tend to drive this road always drive much much faster and very dangerous as well.

My brother was like the perfect driver. And I'm not just saying that. He really always followed all the rules. His phone was always in his pocket so he would never be distracted by it while driving, he always took every precaution by wearing his seat belt, making sure his lights worked perfect, his gas was all filled, and everything worked perfectly on the car. He never took his hands off the steering wheel and always was on point with his driving. He even drove under the speed limit everywhere he went.

We found out that when he was hit, he was going 58 mph, which was still under the limit, he had his seatbelt on very securely, and his phone was in his pocket. A 20-year-old decided that he was going to go around the car in front of him, becoming too impatient to wait for an opening to pass. So he decided to pass anyway. My brother was coming around a curve when the other driver was in his lane and smashed into Tom head-on killing Tom instantly. It was a no passing zone and the driver could have waited five more seconds for my brother's car to pass by and then go around the vehicle in front of him. But he didn't. He decided he could get in between them and make it. 

The 20-year-old driving walked away. He was not wearing a seat belt, he had expired license plates, no insurance, on probation right now for a felony he had committed that year... he did suffer a few injuries but is out and living his life normally. He has not be arrested and not charged yet for this incident. I'm hoping justice comes through. 

Tom no longer is alive. He can not go on living a normal life and neither can any of us now. They had to cut the seat belt off of Tom to remove him from the car. He had just bought that car too. A brand new 2017 Ford Fiesta he was so very proud of. He loved that car so much I remember the day he bought it. it was only about a month or so prior to this accident.

When my parents and I went to the car to try and remove what we could of my brother's belongings from it, it was just so horrific to see in person. You couldn't even see into the car. Everything was so smashed in. There was a little blood but not as much as we expected. We were able to find his wallet and the lunch he packed that day to eat while at work. My father and I cut our hands while digging through all the glass trying to look for Tom's phone. We couldn't find it. Later we found out, they found it on his body and had it at the funeral home for us to pick up. There was no drivers side to his car, it was completely ripped off.

From what it looks like, the other vehicle went head on and hit Tom but they Tom's car swerved and his entire driver's side was ripped off. From what we saw, there was no way anyone could have survived the accident in his spot.

We got to see Tom the day before the funeral. Finally, on Friday, they let us see his body. But it did not look like Tom. He did look a lot better en what we were all expecting. There was so much trauma to his head, that he was very swollen. I got so emotional I screamed out that they had the wrong person, this wasn't my brother. But it was my brother. He had just been through so much that they did everything they could to make him look like him. But it didn't feel like him.

Saturday was the funeral. It was the hardest day we could ever imagine. The last and final day we could see him and say our last goodbyes. About 100 family and friends showed up from all over...coming from all over the country to be there for us and to say goodbye to Tom as well. He was so loved by so many and touched so many people's lives.

I brushed my fingers through his hair, kissed his head and held my little brother's hand for so long. I kept talking to him, telling him that I loved him and forgave him for the tension we had as we grew into adults. But I never stopped loving him ad I wanted so bad for him to know that no matter what, he was forever my little brother and my best friend.

I'm crying so bad right now, I'm starting to gag so bad I may throw up. But the service for him was so amazingly beautiful and amazing. It was everything we could have asked for and I know Tom would have liked it as well. Tom is now sitting in an urn on my parents' side table in the living room with a beautiful plaque and his photos surrounding it. This year on his birthday, they want to bury his ashes. At Christmas, his urn was placed under their tree. It was hard and upsetting at Christmas with him not being there this year. His girlfriend and he always went over to my parent's house for Christmas to spend time with them. Then the kids and I would come. This year, there were no presents with Tom's name on them and that really hit my oldest daughter really hard. It made her cry so much missing him since she loved him dearly.

My brother touched so many people that a group of his friends started up a GoFundMe account to have a memorial pavilion built in his honor at his favorite park he was seen at almost every day to go jogging. I'm only posting it so you can see how many people really did love my brother and how they want to keep his memory alive. You can view that HERE.

Every day seems to be getting harder for me. I cry so much lately, I don't even understand why isn't it getting easier? Then I can't get easier. It's never going to. And it's only been one month. The thoughts, the tears, the memories... they are going to continue to flood me making it harder and harder to concentrate on anything but this at the moment. Then I sit and think I can't even imagine what my parents are going through. Losing their only son, their baby boy, their sweet boy who went through so much as a child and came out to do great things in his life. Only to have it end so early and so tragic. I cannot imagine what it is like to bury a child. I cry so hard for my parents as well...for their pain.

The pain my brother's girlfriend is going through is unbearable as well. I'm so glad he loved her as much as he did because he waited his whole life to find someone like her. She's the most sweetest girl and I'm so glad me and her are going to stay friends and she will always be considered family because she really was.

I'm glad to have gotten to speak these words. To tell my feelings. To talk about what happened. Whether or not it was appropriate, it was something I needed for myself. Most of my friends were also Tom's friends. They know just how important he was to this world and to everyone and he was going to do great things. But now, he will do great things as our angel. He will be forever loved and never once, not thought about. I just wish I could speak to him and give him a hug. I'm glad a least at his funeral, I was able to say my final words of peace and love. 

I was his big sister. I was supposed to protect him. I did growing up, but I can't protect him now. Now, I'm hoping he watches over me and protects me and knows I love him so dearly. My little brother will forever be in my heart. And will always be, my little brother.