April 20, 2022

Celebrating My Brother's Life

The purpose of a Celebration of Life is to remember a loved one, to tell their story and to come together to celebrate their unique personality. My mother decided to celebrate my brother by scattering his ashes in a creek close to where we grew...

The purpose of a Celebration of Life is to remember a loved one, to tell their story and to come together to celebrate their unique personality. My mother decided to celebrate my brother by scattering his ashes in a creek close to where we grew up. 

In this week's episode, I am sharing about the moments I shared with my mother before the Celebration of life, my thoughts and feelings during the event and what happened after, at my brother’s girlfriend's home.

In this episode I’m covering:

  • Conversations with my mother [00:02:15]
  • The Celebration of Life [00:15:15]
  • Eulogy for My Brother [00:27:00]
  • Words from the rest of the family [00:38:15]
  • Scattering my brother’s ashes [00:43:00]
  • My brother’s girlfriend house [00:45:45]
  • The advice from the girlfriend’s father [00:51:25]
  • Hearing my brother’s voice [00:56:15]

For full episode show notes and transcript, click here


[00:00:00] welcome to the surviving siblings podcast. I'm your host, Myra FLIR as a surviving sibling myself. I knew that [00:00:15] I wanted to share my story. My brother's story. I lost my brother to a homicide in November, 2016. And after going through this experience, I knew that I wanted to share my story [00:00:30] and his story.

[00:00:31] And it's taken me quite some time to come to the mic to tell it, but I knew it was an important one to tell. So here I am to share his story and mine with you. And it's important that I [00:00:45] tell the story of the surviving sibling, the forgotten Warner, the story that is not told enough. So thank you for coming with me on this journey and thank you for listening to my story.[00:01:00] 


[00:01:02] After speaking with my father that interesting evening and feeling the sense of, I don't want to say it was [00:01:15] peace, but kind of at ease because the truth had been spoken. I was able to go back to my room and. Yes rest. But I also went back to the room and started [00:01:30] to write the eulogy for my brother, because I knew I wanted to speak at his celebration of life and what they were planning for him and what my mother thought he would want.

[00:01:44] [00:01:45] And I still don't really know that I agree a hundred percent with what happened, but I was able to write and I wrote in my journal. And I didn't finish it that night, but I came very close [00:02:00] and then I was able to kind of, you know, fall asleep and feel a sense of ease. I've never felt peace ever. I don't know if you ever do really, after going through something like this.

[00:02:14] [00:02:15] And the next day I took what my father said very seriously, and I did go. And take my mother, you know, that morning, you know, we got in the car together and [00:02:30] I drove her to her appointments and it was a challenging day. It was, I think that that word is, um, maybe the understatement of the century. It was, [00:02:45] it was beyond challenging, but I think everything seems quite doable after you go through.

[00:02:52] The days that I had been through before and the day that I had been through over a week before, when [00:03:00] I had to walk away from my brother's physical body was the last time and driving her to different appointments and driving her to get her hair done and just different things. I remember a specific conversation with her.[00:03:15] 

[00:03:15] And it was so difficult and challenging. There were several, several conversations. There were a lot of surface conversations, a lot of things she was talking about with her boyfriend, George, and I just wanted [00:03:30] to be sick about a lot of it, but I kept hearing my mother's voice in my head just saying just don't, you know, don't, don't do this.

[00:03:39] Like I had my eye on the fact that like, I wanted to be there for my brothers. [00:03:45] Celebration of life as she was calling it, which I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but it was hard to celebrate his life and all of this was going on. I wanted to make sure that my father got my brother's ashes, that we got the ashes in general for this and just [00:04:00] everything.

[00:04:00] I don't know, came to some kind of harmony, some kind of harmony, I think is the best way to describe it. In reflection and also in that moment, but I remember one specific conversation that she had with me that was [00:04:15] really challenging. And she had told me that my father and her had gone to the residence of my brother and.

[00:04:26] That killed me. It really killed me [00:04:30] because I told her, I said, you know, that's when I kind of broke, I guess, broke character for lack of a better way of saying it. And I was like, what the hell? Like, I. I wanted to see this, like, what are you talking about? [00:04:45] Like I pulled you aside in the hospital, I told you, I knew where he was living.

[00:04:48] Like, I had seen all of these things in a dream years before. I'm like, what are you talking about? Like, why wasn't I a part of that? And she really diminished it, which was painful because she said to me, [00:05:00] oh, you wouldn't have wanted to see that I would actually classify this as gaslighting and the way that she sees.

[00:05:06] Because there were so many things that she said, she was like, it was so horrible. It was a horrible place and all of these things. But I already knew that I had already seen it and I believe [00:05:15] this. I believe that we get signs and I had seen it in my dreams. I already knew it was a horrible place. My whole thing was I needed to see that for myself and a part of my journey, but my father and her had taken upon themselves to go there [00:05:30] and.

[00:05:31] It was more her choice. And then she decided to tell me that my brother's girlfriend had requested to go and she allowed her to go and lay in my brother's bed. And I was like, [00:05:45] what her, what? I'm like, it took so much strength. And I'm sure a lot of you currently to this for me not to just look at her and go, what in the hell is wrong with you?

[00:05:58] This is a 21 year old [00:06:00] young woman, and she's been through so much trauma. And you took her to this place that I know the conditions that my brother had been living in, in previous situations and she let her go there and she said, yeah, she just wanted to lay [00:06:15] in his bed one more time. And while I have total empathy for that, and I understand how on the other side, why, why did you say it was okay for her to go, but it wasn't okay for.

[00:06:27] His 30, her old sister [00:06:30] to go to the residence. It was, it was control. It was gaslighting was a lot of things. And you let this, this young lady who I still have so much respect for and love for to this day [00:06:45] go and she wanted to lay in his bed one more time. This is the story I've been told. I've not confirmed the story with her.

[00:06:52] What it was bizarre. And it took a lot for me to not just freak out and she's [00:07:00] like, yeah, we took all of his stuff out of their guitars. You know, any clothing, anything that was left. And I put it in storage is what she told me. And I remember just feeling again, so robbed of inexperience because I didn't realize that that was what they [00:07:15] did.

[00:07:16] To picking up her boyfriend behind my back and then going and seeing my sisters and leaving me for a week. And so I just felt even more like, wow, my father's putting me [00:07:30] through a lot right now. He like, he's really, really testing me. I don't think that he really knew how much that was going to work me. I could have had at the time I was looking at it as more [00:07:45] closure.

[00:07:45] Like I could've had some closure. I could've, you know, had a shirt from my brother there, something, something of his right. Like you're kind of reaching for anything. And my mother, I felt robbed me of those things. She robbed me of these experiences and here she [00:08:00] is sitting in my car as I'm driving her to get her hair dyed and cut and all these really superficial things.

[00:08:06] And she's telling me these things. It's something indescribable, uh, especially after you've been [00:08:15] abandoned and lied to. And that's just the icing on the cake because you've lost someone to a homicide that you love more than anything else in the world. I didn't really process the magnitude of how painful that really is.[00:08:30] 

[00:08:30] And I also didn't really process how screwed up the whole situation was because of the allowance of the high's girlfriend to go in there, but not his sister and I Harbor. Absolutely no ill [00:08:45] will towards his girlfriend. I adore her. I think she's a beautiful person to this day. That was all on my mother. I just think the whole thing is bizarre.

[00:08:55] And I think it also might be a reflection of the fact. How I [00:09:00] treated the terrible roommate when he came to the hospital, but then again, I might be giving way too much credit to my mother. I don't know that she has that much forethought in that. So I find all this [00:09:15] out. So it's, I really felt whatever you believe in the universe, God, whatever, a bigger power testing me.

[00:09:23] I don't know if you can imagine that. Driving around someone that's like robbed you of these experiences. And I just [00:09:30] kept thinking, let's get to his ashes, let's get to the crematorium. I'm probably butchering them, but you know, where they cremate. And we ended up getting there, which I touched on a little bit in my previous episode.

[00:09:43] And I had already picked [00:09:45] out the, his earn for myself and the rest of the team. They expressed nothing. They did not want the ashes. We were going to throw the ashes into a Creek from our hometown. That was what my mother decided. It was a celebration of life. We're throwing them in December 3rd. This [00:10:00] is December 2nd, 2016.

[00:10:03] And the dates are coming back to you as like you talk through the story. I'm sure a lot of you can relate to this too with a post-traumatic. I'll never forget the actual date though, with [00:10:15] that, like the death date and the date we like through the ashes and the things like that. And I remember being there and picking out I had my earned already and so they had to divide up the ashes and it was so [00:10:30] just methodical and.

[00:10:33] They try to be empathetic and I get that this is their business. And so I picked out this urn for my father, which I described a little bit in the previous episode that looked very similar to mine, but it was [00:10:45] more appropriate for him. It was like this dark ocean blue. Um, because I knew he wanted to give some of the ashes to the sea, where they had had the ocean, where they had had an experience together in Africa where my father resides and.

[00:10:59] [00:11:00] So that's what I got him. And we were the only ones that kept ashes. And that was that the rest of it went and she liked this box and it was going to go towards the celebration and that kind of wrapped up the day. [00:11:15] But I remember in that room sitting there, you sit at this table. There's a lot of you I'm sure.

[00:11:22] Experienced. And there's, if you're somewhere where it's like a cross where they cremate and they also [00:11:30] Berry coffins around you and it's, I could just feel so many, it was a dark, spiritual experience. And I remember feeling that in like in my gut [00:11:45] and I kind of feel in some ways at the time, That my brother was with me.

[00:11:52] It was just so heavy. I was numb again. I was sad. Again. I was relieved [00:12:00] because I had a piece of him physically after hearing this story of how, like all his stuff had been taken and putting it put into storage. And to this day, I still don't know if I'll ever see it, or if [00:12:15] it's even there anymore. I still do.

[00:12:17] And that was important to me at the time. I thought that was like the be all end all because you want just a piece of them, because I think when you go through [00:12:30] Ross, you're just, you're trying to have something physical to, to stay, you know, to keep a hold of this person. It's like when I left the hospital, I didn't want to leave.

[00:12:41] I needed still be there. Like I couldn't let go. And I [00:12:45] think this was a part of that process. And I think I very much feel that my mother used that against me in that scenario, but she wanted to have control. She was saying, oh, you wouldn't have wanted to be there. You wouldn't want him to see that [00:13:00] I'd seen a lot worse with my brother.

[00:13:01] I knew he had. Inside and out. And I knew a lot of, lot of really dark things. And that was not the reason that I was not at his residence. So that was [00:13:15] challenging. It was challenging to get through that day because you have to just sit there and bite your tongue ago. Suppression. It does a really difficult, um, challenging thing to you though when you're going through post-traumatic stress and it doesn't [00:13:30] come out till later.

[00:13:31] And we got back in the car with his ashes and the urns, and we drove back to the hotel and Caleb, my brother from another mother came to the hotel. I have [00:13:45] spoken about this a little bit already in a previous episode about how he lost. Brother as well. And what I had said in that, in that situation, and my brother was there for that.

[00:13:56] And it was a very intimate moment and his [00:14:00] father came as well because they understood, they understood exactly what I was going through, not in the homicide sentence, but they understood sudden loss and they understood losing a son and losing a brother. Of course. And I couldn't believe that this had come like [00:14:15] seven years later, this had happened.

[00:14:17] And I really appreciated the support my father did as well and connected with Caleb's father. And then it was just, you know, planning for the next day. It was kind of a blur. It was kind of just, I [00:14:30] made it, it was kind of like a check mark. Like I made it, you know, my mother was telling me, George wants to talk to you.

[00:14:35] He wants to discuss things with you. Let's apologize. All this crap. I still just couldn't understand why, [00:14:45] why does this man want to make this about himself? This is not about him. This is about our family and the loss of someone in our family, our brother or son or friend, like [00:15:00] to a homicide, a murder. And this man continued to make it about himself.

[00:15:05] It was really weird. And so I just ignored it. I didn't have anything to say. There's nothing to say at that point. [00:15:15] So going into the celebration of life as my mother called it, it was a very dreary kind of overcast day and she [00:15:30] decided to have it. At lion Creek and in our hometown, I'm from a small town here in Georgia and there's this Creek where he actually shot a lot of his videos, go on YouTube and check out Andreas Rottler.

[00:15:43] You can see him [00:15:45] shooting these videos there. And some of them, you know, were interesting. Some of them, you know, he was very, it was interesting because my brother was very talented and. You can watch him go through some, some highs in his life and some lows in his life. And [00:16:00] he always, uh, displayed that through his music videos, but he's shot a lot of that there.

[00:16:06] And I've been very clear from the beginning of telling this story, whether it was through social media or [00:16:15] this podcast or interviews. I mean, I'm not glorifying my brother in the sense that he was perfect. He definitely had, you know, his highs and lows. He struggled with his mental [00:16:30] health, substance issues, things like that, but it was a homicide and he was murdered and this was a difficult situation and it was so hard to, to not topic.

[00:16:40] Talk about it for so long as I like struggled to still like, get that out. [00:16:45] Because my family didn't want it out there. I was like chastised even in the hospital because I posted like up a post on Facebook about it because he was so public, he was way more public than even I was that he [00:17:00] wanted people to know who he was.

[00:17:01] He wanted people to like, that's all he ever wanted. They never understood that about him, I guess. I understand that in a sentence, but I never had that want like him, but I've empathy for it. And I [00:17:15] knew that about him more than anything else. And I was chastised for putting out where he was and the fact that he died and a picture, I didn't post a picture of him in the hospital, but I posted a picture of the fact that he was in the hospital and [00:17:30] there's just a lot of things.

[00:17:32] You know, I wasn't allowed to express myself and in the way that I believe that he would have wanted, and that was hard. He loved to express himself in a very public way. And I, and I knew that. And so even [00:17:45] putting myself out like that was hard and challenging. My mother wanted to have it there. And that is one thing that I do think she got right.

[00:17:55] Having and doing something there. I don't think she got it right in the sense of, [00:18:00] uh, throwing his ashes into that Creek because I don't think that was exactly God, hopefully this doesn't get us in trouble, but I don't think you're supposed to throw ashes into that Greek, but nothing you can do about it now.

[00:18:12] It's done. I didn't do it, but it was a [00:18:15] special place for him. But we did have. A small intimate group that was there. It was myself. Of course there was, of course my mom and my dad. My mother's boyfriend, George. And then, uh, my, my other sister and her [00:18:30] husband did come back in town for that. Actually it was just my sister that came back in town, her husband wasn't there.

[00:18:35] And then my youngest sister and her husband were there. Of course. And I had my cousin and [00:18:45] her, I guess her boyfriend, I don't think they're married. They were there, which she's the daughter of. My uncle and aunt that were there in the hospital for some at the time. So, and then of course my brother's girlfriend was there with her family.

[00:18:59] Of [00:19:00] course, they're incredible. They're incredible people. I can't say enough good things about them. And that was a group. So it was an intimate group. And of course, Caleb. My father from another, another, another [00:19:15] time Phillip was there and I was walking arm in arm with them, with Caleb and Phillip to this site.

[00:19:23] And my mother was kind of leading. Like we drove there and we all got dressed and my mother had requested [00:19:30] that we all like, kind of dress in like fall earthy colors for my brother and. I we did. I remember exactly what I was wearing. I still have it in my [00:19:45] closet to this day. I don't know why I would ever wear it ever again, but I have it, it's this burgundy jumpsuit.

[00:19:56] And it's like, you know, one piece like lung jumpsuit. And [00:20:00] then I think I wore, I want to say like a fur coat or something over it, and like Uggs, which is like, it doesn't sound fashionable, but it was bugs because we were walking through this. And if you guys follow me on social media, go back there every single year on his death [00:20:15] date, you know, his death anniversary, which is November 21st, where they're on December 3rd, right now, throwing his ashes and doing his celebration of life ceremony.

[00:20:25] And so we're all kind of going as a procession through here and I'm with [00:20:30] Kayla and fill up. This is again, such a pillar. This is just a wild experience to say the least it was surreal, surreal, and we get to a certain. If you've ever been to [00:20:45] this place before, which I doubt any of you will ever go there out, you kind of don't.

[00:20:51] But at the same point, if you're following me on social, you'll see it. And I would love for you to, to see the ode that I do to my brother every year with [00:21:00] sunflowers, because that's his flower. My mother had a flower for each one of us when we were born. I'm a rose. My brother was a sunflower and. So we're all like we had all these sunflowers and we're going there and she finally picks like one of these like [00:21:15] rock areas.

[00:21:16] So as you go down this path, there's different areas that break out with like long rocks where it gets close to the Creek. And there's one particular area that she picked and there's this tree that's kind of broken out across [00:21:30] there as well. So she picked this area and we all stopped there and we all stand.

[00:21:36] And we stand in kind of this horseshoe. And my mother says, okay, like, this is where we're going to do this. You know, [00:21:45] the, like I like, she kind of settles in with the ashes and we have the flowers and this was an incredibly emotional moment, as you can imagine for me, because I looked around and. [00:22:00] And the most important people in his family were there, but I, it hit me that there were so many people that I knew my brother loved that were not there.

[00:22:13] And there were so many people that [00:22:15] have reached out to me on social media. And, you know, in other ways as well that we're just like, how can we honor your brother? How can we, you know, when's the funeral, when can we, you know, pay our respects, all of this. And my mother kept shutting it down. She's like, I don't [00:22:30] want anybody else here.

[00:22:30] This is small. This is intimate. And as his mother, you know, I wanted to respect that regardless of what was going on with her and I at the time and the pain that was in. Upon myself at the time, it was not about me. It was [00:22:45] about, you know, my brother. And that was a struggle for me though, in all honesty, because I knew my brother would, and I know this, like, I'm telling you this right now.

[00:22:56] And I feel him shining down on me while I say this, my brother would have [00:23:00] loved to have had like 500 people, like. Talking about him and like, he's just that person, like, he wanted to be recognized where like, as someone like my mother, I feel like she was. [00:23:15] Maybe, and my father a little bit too, they were always like this.

[00:23:19] When we were growing up, my mom's more of an introverted extrovert. My father is definitely an introvert and my brother and I were both exceptional, like extroverts, like to the, to [00:23:30] the max. And so. My brother took it to a whole nother level where he'd want 500 people, like being like a trance was the best.

[00:23:37] And it would go like 10 hours. Like he would so love that. Like I know it's so it was really, really difficult for [00:23:45] me to be like, there was nowhere for you to go pay our respects. Thank you so much for reaching out to me and sending your love. And he had worked for one of my previous companies. And so when I got messages there, I mean, I had known so many people.[00:24:00] 

[00:24:00] It was difficult to be like, sorry, you can't say something or give anything. Or that was hard for me. That was hard for me. Because who am I to Rob someone of their morning? I have warned people [00:24:15] that have not been family per se, like my blood per se. I didn't know every relationship he had. So that was difficult.

[00:24:23] That was really challenging. And I felt like I was put in a really difficult position and I felt like my family was trying to [00:24:30] hide this death. Because I continue to receive messages, which I continue to talk about, but there was nothing to hide. There was nothing to be ashamed about. You know, my brother again was not perfect, but he died in a [00:24:45] way that was not right.

[00:24:46] No one deserves that. At least not my brother. He wasn't a bad person and standing around. I was just, I remember being very fixated on a couple people [00:25:00] in that very intimate group. I was fixated on my brother's girlfriend who was beside herself, of course. And I remember feeling so bonded to her in a unique way, in such a short time.[00:25:15] 

[00:25:15] I could feel her pain. I could feel it. Even just sitting here talking to you right now. It was intense. I know she loved him and. That meant the world to me, that he had experienced that. And I [00:25:30] remember with my youngest sister also feeling very intensely as well, but I felt okay because she had the support of her husband and I felt okay as well with my [00:25:45] brother's girlfriend, because she had the support of her family, which is really beautiful.

[00:25:48] I mean, her brother, mother, and father. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The support. And I remember her wanting to really hone in a little [00:26:00] bit more on like my mother and father and my dad was struggling. My mom was just, I don't, I don't know. It was a challenging moment for me with her because of everything that happened and it [00:26:15] would get more challenging, but I had.

[00:26:19] Written the eulogy. Everyone was going to say a couple of words that wanted to, but I had written the speech that was going to be said, and for the first time [00:26:30] I'm going to share it and then going to share it very publicly. And so it's not going to be easy, but I'm going to read it. And so hopefully I can get through the entire eulogy, but this was so challenging for me to even get through that [00:26:45] particular day.

[00:26:48] So let's see if I can get through this without breaking down. No promises. So I wrote this, of course, like I told you in the hotel room and I delivered this on December 3rd, and you're going to hear some [00:27:00] pages turning, because this is still in a journal. I had to dig this up. I keep all my journals. I, I do write as well.

[00:27:06] So here we go. Here's what I said. I want to thank everyone again with great affection for being here today, to remember and [00:27:15] celebrate the life of my brother. Andrea's Christian Rottler with this being one of the most difficult pieces I've ever had to write or speak. Nonetheless, I'd like to open with a quote from one of my brother's favorite idols, [00:27:30] John Lennon, as I believe it opens the doors to embrace his life.

[00:27:34] When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I. [00:27:45] I wrote down happy. They told me that I didn't understand the assignment. And I told them that they didn't understand life. My brother understood life in a way that I didn't and that no one did.[00:28:00] 

[00:28:00] He knew like his idol, John Lennon, that happiness is the core of fulfillment in this lifetime. He took true pleasure in the simplest of earth. Blessings and offerings as a child, he [00:28:15] chairs the nourishment of food. Like no other. His first words were eat Andreas embraced nature with wide eyes and open arms.

[00:28:25] He looked at the world with a fresh childlike spirit [00:28:30] throughout his whole life. That was truly enviable. When I first heard the news that we all received. At some moment, a moment, none of us will ever forget a million thoughts raced through my mind. My emotions went. Um, [00:28:45] I felt completely frozen

[00:28:50] as I'm sure all of you can relate. I remember one of the most prominent thoughts during that time though, I kept thinking of all the milestones [00:29:00] or just things that he would never be able to do. I shake that off too. And having the days that have passed, because that's not the right mindset. I began to think instead about everything that he had done [00:29:15] and was able to do, I'm already crying because I was able to do in his 27 years of life, I streamed through his life.

[00:29:23] The best I could as his older son. And realized he had lived more than more than [00:29:30] most of us would in a lifetime. My brother was stubborn, determined, and never took no as an answer. So he always followed his dreams. How many of us even here today can truly say [00:29:45] that we fell it Howers our dreams wholeheartedly.

[00:29:50] My brother loved with a passion that was unwavering. He found his soulmate. And was able to spend years on this earth with her. [00:30:00] We are in our lucky enough to call her family. Some people spend their whole lives seeking out the love, the love that they had for one another. I was lucky enough to witness it before he passed.

[00:30:11] And I am so grateful for that. So thank you. [00:30:15] I'm and I will sign out there. I still think her to this day, and if you've listened to this, I'm grateful to you. My brother saw the good, the positive. The light and every person, and sure. We could say it was to a fault [00:30:30] because it definitely was, but he lived so greatly because of this and because of this gift, and I hope each of us takes a part of that from him as they kept streaming through the journey of his life.

[00:30:44] I recounted the [00:30:45] hundreds of songs written and sung and smile. Remembering again, that he kept following his passion. He traveled, he created, he loved, he gave, he [00:31:00] lived. So the streaming of my brother's memory in life doesn't stop, but it evolved. And I started to realize that he had given what was intended for him to give to us [00:31:15] for that.

[00:31:15] I am forever grateful. And I cherish the memories and the change of my mindset. As I write this, my brother was also special to me in some unique ways, and I can't leave quite yet without mentioning our bond [00:31:30] and what it meant to me and what I'd always hope. It meant to him as well. EISA to tell everyone for years and years that my brother was the love of my life.

[00:31:40] Some of you may know here today that we actually have the. [00:31:45] When we were going to be born at the same due date, then we were both born two weeks late on September 21st. Oddly enough, we weighed exactly the same at eight pounds, six ounces. He arrived [00:32:00] three years behind me though. My mother often referred to my brother as my twin who arrived just a bit late.

[00:32:07] Indeed. That's exactly how life felt with Andrea's. Growing up, we ran wild [00:32:15] together and he was my trustworthy, admirable sidekick, my fondest memories of childhood and just childhood play or with my brother, my friend, my [00:32:30] soulmate, my twin. I remember the Fords we used to build together in the hollowed out trees.

[00:32:38] And even back then he would sing to me. He loyally followed me down any path I wanted to discover. And the [00:32:45] adventures we had were endless, my mother's least favorite adventure was when we all decided to hop the horse fence in Minnesota and roll around in the mud. Just like the horses, my trusted sidekick.[00:33:00] 

[00:33:00] My brother Andrea's was covered head to toe in that horse mud. That's one of my favorites, one of my favorite ones. I often slept at the bottom of his bunk beds. As we spent hours [00:33:15] talking in our youth, as well as later years, it's another fond memory of mine. As he knew sleep evaded me often, it's something I struggled with and we were in good company.

[00:33:29] One of the [00:33:30] most important memories to me is the day we got my Scarlet Andrea's came with me to drop. Dog turd as I call her Scarlet O'Hara I won't lie. I was a bit [00:33:45] jealous because he held her the whole way home and she was beyond spitting with her uncle. I cherish that memory in my heart more than he'll ever know.

[00:33:56] He can't have this great way about knowing to be [00:34:00] there when it really counted. And I appreciated that about him. We all know Andrea's has had his share of struggles Verde. And crosses to bear just like we all do. But whether I was loving my brother from near [00:34:15] or far, it never wavered as he and I are so alike.

[00:34:20] I cannot explain it better than the words of the great Truman Capote. But in my own interpretation, Truman says he felt so [00:34:30] connected to a friend. That he made that people didn't always understand this particular friendship. And when questioned about the friendship, he simply said, he felt that you grew up in the same house.

[00:34:42] Symbolically of course, [00:34:45] get Truman chose the front door, but his friend chose the back door to walk out of of course, and start their lives. These words always ring true to me about. My love, my friendship, [00:35:00] my everything with my brother as you went down different paths, but my love always followed him as he traveled.

[00:35:08] As he traveled down the journey of his life. My love followed near and far [00:35:15] forever, and always love is not perfect, but it is unconditional unwavering and forever last. As we open the celebration of my brother's life here today. [00:35:30] I'd like to leave us all with one of my favorite quotes of all time from the great mother, Theresa, a fellow Virgo like Andrea's and me as birthday twins.[00:35:45] 

[00:35:45] I know God will not give me anything. I cannot handle. I just wish he didn't trust me. So. So now I do not say goodbye to my beloved brother, but I say, see you later. [00:36:00] And I love you always and forever. 


No one else has ever heard me say those words or speak those words about my brother, but that was the eulogy, an [00:36:15] opening speech that I gave.

[00:36:17] The celebration of life for my brother. And it's very difficult to read that again, but I'm, I'm happy to share it with you. Because I think it's important to know that [00:36:30] you're not the only ones that have had to write something like that or hear something like that, or go through something like that. And it's important to know that even for myself going back and reading that, that I was able to write about some of the positive memories.[00:36:45] 

[00:36:45] Oh, this makes me emotional. So after. In which there's nothing wrong with that. So you can cry along with me as I'm talking, but as I delivered that everyone kind of in the horseshoes spoke before we did the ashes and [00:37:00] the, and the sunflowers, and there were some interesting moments in this conversation. I understand that my.

[00:37:11] Long, my father even said to me, he's like, I know [00:37:15] yours. It'll be long. You know, it was never my favorite quality or thing of his that I talk and communicate a lot. But here I am, this is what they do now. I basically talk and plan and that's what I do for a living. So whatever [00:37:30] I that's my advice to you guys, always embrace, you know, who cares?

[00:37:33] What people think about you? And if, if it's your family, if it's something that's a part of you or that you. That's my 2 cents. I'm going to throw that in there to pull this up a little bit, but it's, it's hard to lighten [00:37:45] this up. It's a dark situation, but I don't remember putting my heart and soul into that.

[00:37:50] And it was hard and I had 50 million other things I wanted to say, right? Like how do you cram 27 years of somebody's life into like [00:38:00] what somebody else is kind of rushing you on and you feel like eyes on you. And it was hard. And people kind of went around and said a few things, but what was really significant to me was my sister who is a year younger [00:38:15] than me.

[00:38:15] And she almost followed directly after me. And all she had to say was that she had fond memories of them driving to school together because my brother and I were never in high school. I was a [00:38:30] freshman in college and he was a freshmen in high school because of the fact that I was young for my grade.

[00:38:36] And he was like the right age for school. So even though we were three years apart, it was actually a four year situations. That's [00:38:45] why the, she was a senior and he was a freshmen. And she talked about that and she talked about how they had Harry Potter in common. It was very surface. And I just remember, like, my heart was like sinking and I was crying and Kayla [00:39:00] was just squeezing my hand and holding it.

[00:39:02] And I was there with him and fill up and I was barely holding on. And the. Speech. I mean, it makes me emotional five years later to tell you this speech is opening speech. And my sister's [00:39:15] talking about how they went to school and her little neon and listened to a couple of bands. They liked together and like Harry Potter together.

[00:39:24] And that was like the, the extent of her talk. And I just remember looking at. [00:39:30] Wow. I remember feeling maybe you guys have gone through this too because other family members are mourning in a different way. I remember feeling like, is there something wrong with me that I just wrote this whole thing? I poured my heart and soul.

[00:39:43] I spent a [00:39:45] week on a couch Bandon, like, what's wrong with me? Why am I feeling this so deeply? Like, why am I feeling like a night in the world is over? And she's just. Yep. I'm going to miss you. I [00:40:00] love you so much. It was great driving you to school. I was fine watching Harry Potter with you. Like I just couldn't believe it.

[00:40:07] I was just like, what? And I don't think I had the capacity to necessarily judge that deeply at the time I did [00:40:15] later. And now I'm, I've, I'm coming to a different place five years later about judgment because I realized now that everybody mourns differently. And so depending on where you are in trouble, And your last journey of your sibling.[00:40:30] 

[00:40:30] I hope that this helps you with that because. Dumbfounded and then went to judgemental and then I've kind of gone to like an acceptance place. Right? It doesn't mean that I agree with this, but I was just like, what the hell? [00:40:45] And my youngest sister, she said some very kind sweet things, but I still was like, my God, I just poured my whole heart out.

[00:40:52] You know, again, I'm coming from a different place now of less judgment. I don't even recall exactly what she said. My [00:41:00] brother's girlfriend. I was like hysterical, like she was crying and I was like, I get you. I'm connected with you. I remember just connecting so much with her because, you know, during, by obviously the will G opening remarks that I [00:41:15] made remarks, it was like his speech.

[00:41:18] I refer to her and, and I connected with her, you know, I looking across, she was across. She was beside herself. And so I just connected with that energy so much [00:41:30] more. I felt the love and I felt the depth and I, again, never want, you know, the story of her going to my brother's residence or anything like that to be misconstrued.

[00:41:40] And like, I'm never upset with her. I just never understood why my mother. [00:41:45] Would not, let me be a part of that. It was like, it was total massive dig at me. And then we got to my mom and my father and my father, you know, said, you know, some words about thanking everybody for being there and. You know, I didn't expect [00:42:00] much from him, but my mom doesn't say much either, which really surprised me too.

[00:42:04] I would. I mean, this is all I know. And this is the only advice I can give to you as a surviving sibling. When you go through this loss, like you're going to see different sides of people. And [00:42:15] I was shocked. I was really, really shocked mostly by my sister. Who's a year younger than me and Mo uh, I should take them back.

[00:42:22] We're track that for a second. I don't know if I was totally shocked by her. It was kind of like, oh my God, my mother, it [00:42:30] was heart wrenching for me. And I was pleasantly surprised in some ways where my father. It concludes with my parents. And I did see some unity with them, which was good because, you know, my father had found out this information [00:42:45] about the situation that was just not really positive with the boyfriend.

[00:42:51] I'm like, God. And so it became the time to put the ashes in the Creek, which is a whole other drama because we really shouldn't have been doing [00:43:00] that. My father and I didn't agree with my mother wanting to do this. And we agreed with the fact that it was a great place, but you know, we've already covered that.

[00:43:09] It probably wasn't the best thing to be doing. So. We'll just kind of skip on over [00:43:15] that, but you know, you need permitting and things to do that. And she just, I think sometimes doesn't think the rules apply, but anyway, the ashes go into everybody was going to take us SciShow and scoop smashes in. And so we did that, you know, it was like a ceremony and then [00:43:30] everyone put a sunflower into the water.

[00:43:33] And that part was really beautiful. I give her a lot of credit with that. I think that part was really, really sweet and beautiful and thoughtful. And I think that was. White representative of who he [00:43:45] was and a place that he loved, but there was a very significant moment for me when I stepped back after, after taking a little part in that and then walking away.

[00:43:55] Cause it was just so it was just too hard for me. [00:44:00] And I was watching and as the ashes were all gone and my mom was kind of like, you know, taking the box back in the bag and everything that ashes. This is a significant moment for me. [00:44:15] And those of you who have gone through this can understand this. And those of you who are supporting others will hopefully hear this.

[00:44:23] And there's these moments that stand out to you. And it's interesting to describe, [00:44:30] but she's was kind of, my mother was kind of waiting in this water a little bit and then. She had this black, long sweater on and she had ashes on her and she started [00:44:45] wiping them. And so there was Ash on her long sweater.

[00:44:50] It was like when long sweaters were in, you know, there's like long that when they come down to like your calves or even to your ankles. And I was like, I don't know why [00:45:00] that triggered me, but it triggered me so much. And I was like, that's my brother's body, like on your sweater and you just, you wiped his body.

[00:45:07] Aren't you like, it just, it disgusted me. It just ghosted me so much. And she may [00:45:15] not have even realized that I think you, you are so numb sometimes, but I remember just being so triggered. I was like, oh my God trip, wiping your son on you. And I had to walk away, like I had to walk away. I remember saying something [00:45:30] to Caleb about it.

[00:45:30] And he was like, this is really bizarre. So I knew it wasn't, I wasn't the only person that's. So how'd this, it was weird. And just an odd moment. And [00:45:45] we were going back to my brother's girlfriend's home because his mother or her mother and father, so the girlfriend's family. I had offered to do like a [00:46:00] celebration of life, like dinner and drinks and everything back at the home, which their home, which I thought was so kindness as sweet.

[00:46:08] So we all went back there and it was uncomfortable in a lot of [00:46:15] ways on not a reflection of their family whatsoever, but it was uncomfortable for me because I was just. I realize this now, but even in the moment, a lot of this trauma was building up in [00:46:30] me and a lot of the resentment and the Ash on my mother's body and the resentment of being left and the trauma of that and the lies and the [00:46:45] deceit, I was hurt.

[00:46:47] I was really hurt and it was really setting in that we were. My brother's girlfriend's house. My brother wasn't coming out anywhere. He wasn't going to come around the corner. Like I wasn't, [00:47:00] I never been to that home before and I should have been there's that word shit, but I should've been, I will say, it'll stop it.

[00:47:09] The word shed should have been there with him meeting [00:47:15] her. And I met her in a totally different situation, but we have to trust the universe and. How it operates and how it wants us to meet and move forward. And so they had a beautiful [00:47:30] dinner, a beautiful spread. And my brother's girlfriend is. Uh, I say, as I speak, you guys probably go to this choice, still speak about him in the present tense often.

[00:47:42] So, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, [00:47:45] but I don't want you to get confused what I'm talking about. Yeah. You'll speak sometimes in the present tense because they're still with us. I believe this 100% and he's definitely still very much alive. So she, uh, her father believe in America and I mean a white guy, [00:48:00] but her mother.

[00:48:02] Is green. And my brother was always into like Asian culture, Asian food, like, so it wa, it never surprised me that he connected so much with his family and my brother. And also [00:48:15] obviously his girlfriend. He, what I said in my celebration of life, speech is 150% true. He, she was the love of his life and he found love.

[00:48:26] And I'm just so glad that I got to see that I wish I had [00:48:30] gotten to see it in a different way, but I trust the universe and I trust. I just trust. You have to, and you get to this point in your. And we were there for a beautiful spread of food and beautiful drinks [00:48:45] and just, you know, beautiful family. I mean, God, the energy of that home, it's just gorgeous, but I felt uncomfortable.

[00:48:52] I felt uncomfortable with George around and my mother and then my father was there. And so it, it's just a interesting [00:49:00] situation. And Caleb and versus father was still there for me. And I just felt like, you know, there was alcohol involved and so that. The situation is kind of mounting and everyone's having a good time with just, it's not a bad [00:49:15] thing, but I just couldn't.

[00:49:16] I couldn't get there. I couldn't. And I remember speaking on and off through the night to my brother's girlfriend's father. So the father and. [00:49:30] I just really, again, just adored her family and still have a lot of respect to them for them to this day and spoke to him throughout the night. I kind, kinda just felt like he had really seen everything quite clearly.

[00:49:44] I don't know [00:49:45] how to explain it. And there were a couple of tensions that were happening and a couple of disagreements and. And my sisters were really ostracizing me. They were in another room and laughing and [00:50:00] like doing, looking at things. And there was a yearbook that came out too at one point that like my youngest sister and my brother's girlfriend were both in together.

[00:50:10] Cause they were only like a year apart. They're only, they're only a year apart. They're still here. So they're [00:50:15] only a year apart. So there's some cool things like that. And I have pictures of that and. I remember a couple dysfunctional, like, you know, there are a couple of little arguments here and there happening, and it was, the tension was kind of mounting.[00:50:30] 

[00:50:31] And I don't recall exactly what led to this moment, but I was walking away for a moment because I was just like, Very overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed by the [00:50:45] situation with my mother and George. I was overwhelmed by the situation. Just, it was just so much. And I put my whole heart into this day and I, I was heartbroken by everything that had happened.

[00:50:58] And my brother's [00:51:00] girlfriend, the girlfriend's father I'll shorten it. The girlfriend's father. I just want to leave her name out of it. Out of respect for her. She can always come forward. If she would like. And I would, she's always welcome to come on. If she would like to the podcast, I [00:51:15] have nothing but love for her that I will never forget her father pulling me aside in the hallway of his house and talking to me about my brother.

[00:51:25] And he said to me, Some really beautiful things about my [00:51:30] brother. And he told me that he loved my brother and that he was like a part of the family and that, I don't know if they loved him right away. So the vibe that I got, but then they did and they accepted him. And so they had a [00:51:45] pretty good understanding of kind of how the dynamic of my family had, you know, there were some issues, there were some issues for sure, understatement of the year and.

[00:51:56] He said, look, I came from a family that [00:52:00] was not from the best background, not totally stable, any kind of went deep with me on this and shared. And I remember standing there listening to [00:52:15] this, connecting with him and he told me he's like, but I. I have a beautiful family. Like I built this life and I remember looking around and I'm like, ah, you have a beautiful life.

[00:52:26] You have a beautiful family. And I still feel this [00:52:30] way to this day about that. I have so much respect for this man and the family and my brother's girlfriend and just all of them, beautiful people. I mean, What beautiful people to welcome us into their home during this. I mean, it [00:52:45] still makes me emotional today, but he and I were speaking in this hallway about this situation.

[00:52:52] And he said, look, I came from a really skirted background and I felt this and it was, you know, [00:53:00] I walked away and I didn't look back and he was like, you need to run. You need to run. And I was like, what? And he's like, you need to walk away and not [00:53:15] look back. And I will never forget looking at him and taking that advice so seriously, not necessarily in that moment.

[00:53:29] The [00:53:30] words seriously in that moment, if that makes sense, because when you're dealing with trauma like that, and when you're in this loss and this numbness, and you're like, what is even going on? I didn't really know how powerful what he was saying was, but it was [00:53:45] powerful. And yeah, he told me, he said run and you don't look back and you can build a beautiful life for yourself.

[00:53:51] And. But I didn't know what that meant at the time. Exactly. All I knew was what he had done for himself. And he was [00:54:00] expressing to me where he had come from and you would never have known it. You would never have known. He had this beautiful family, beautiful life. And I am so grateful for his beautiful daughter who loved my brothers so much.

[00:54:12] Oh gosh, here I go. I'm getting emotional, but it's [00:54:15] okay to get emotional about this. And I hope you guys feel like it's okay to get emotional. I'm so grateful for him building a beautiful family because my brother felt love. And I know he felt love from them. And I'm so [00:54:30] grateful that that man gave me that advice because I tapped back into it.

[00:54:35] But he told me to run. He said, you run and you don't look back. And I didn't realize how powerful that would be. And I just remembered hunting, looking at him. And I said, okay. [00:54:45] He said, this is not, this is not. Basically functional. I can't recall exactly what the words were because that was just so in your face, like he was so blunt about it, you know, and I was like, he sees something and he sees a lot of [00:55:00] things that I don't even really see.

[00:55:01] And I'm seeing that this is wrong. And I remember having this intense conversation in the hallway and then returning to the couch in their, you know, their main area and. Kind of continuing on [00:55:15] and feeling almost like a whirlwind still happening for me. Cause I'm like, wow, I'm like acknowledged, validated a little bit, but I'm also feeling like, what do I do with this knowledge?

[00:55:26] Like, cause now I've been thrust on the other side, like I'm validated, [00:55:30] but now I'm like being told, like, did you, this that's a lot to go through in that moment. But I look back on the now and realized that was for me to take and literally run with. I guess kind of no pun intended [00:55:45] with what he said, but he literally did mean it and he was right as I'll continue to share with you guys.

[00:55:50] He was right. And I did, I took it seriously. I really did take his advice seriously. So I kind of just kept, you know, there, I was there with Caleb and fill up [00:56:00] and, uh, most of the women were in the kitchen and. For some reason, they get this idea that they want to listen to my brother's music. And I didn't know this was going to happen.

[00:56:13] And it starts like they're like [00:56:15] laughing. And then all of a sudden, my brother's music starts playing through the sound speakers all throughout the home. And you never know when you're going to break. You never know when things are going to hit you and it hit me then his [00:56:30] voice singing echoing throughout these speakers throughout the house.

[00:56:36] Broke me. It broke me and I don't think anybody else there at that time could really understand maybe my brother's girlfriend could, but I [00:56:45] don't recall her reaction at the time because it broke me and I was covering my ears and I started to, I started to yell. I had lost it and I was like, turn it off, turn it off, turn it off, turn it off.

[00:56:58] I'm I, I don't recall my [00:57:00] volume of yelling. I don't recall anything. I was like, turn it off. Turn. I can't, I could not. That was the first moment that I realized, I don't think I really realized, but I realize it now that that was trauma kicking in. I couldn't hear it. It [00:57:15] was like, and my mom was screaming for the other room.

[00:57:19] Get her the out of here, get her out of here. She's crazy. Blah, blah, blah. Well, seeing all these things, my mother, because my brother's voice was going throughout the speakers. And [00:57:30] so. I remember again, the hallway conversation. And I remember thinking to myself with that, with the trauma and just covering my ears and like, I can't, I can't cause it was so intense and the pain inside me, it was so intense while [00:57:45] hearing him sing.

[00:57:46] Cause I would never hear that. I never heard that voice ever again, live real life. The fact that she had no empathy for that. And the fact that I just had the conversation with the father of my brother's girlfriend. And he had more [00:58:00] empathy for me. It was powerful, but I was a mess in that moment. And Caleb and his father took me out of there.

[00:58:06] My father followed soon after. And I knew at that point, things would never be the same. And my mother had, had not taken note [00:58:15] of, of everything I had asked of the family and what needed to happen to heal. But I'm so grateful for the people that were there for. And I will never forget that advice to run.[00:58:30] 

[00:58:33] Thank you so much for listening to the surviving siblings podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, as much as I did creating it for you, then share it on your chosen social media platform. [00:58:45] And don't forget to tag us at surviving siblings podcast so that more surviving siblings can be. Remember to rate, review and subscribe to the podcast.

[00:58:56] And don't forget to follow us on all social media platforms. [00:59:00] We're on Instagram, Twitter, and tech talk at surviving siblings podcast. All links can be found in the show notes. So be sure to check those out to thank you again for the support until the next episode. [00:59:15] Keep on surviving my surviving.[00:59:30]