April 27, 2022

Coping with the Loss of My Brother

The pain of loss is overwhelming, it’s something that we learn to cope with as we are going through this journey of losing a loved one. Big feelings always come to the surface, which makes coping with the loss even more challenging In this week's...

The pain of loss is overwhelming, it’s something that we learn to cope with as we are going through this journey of losing a loved one. Big feelings always come to the surface, which makes coping with the loss even more challenging

In this week's episode, I am sharing about 

In this episode I’m covering:

  • What happened after walking away [00:01:02]
  • Words of Wisdom from my father [00:08:45]
  • Sharing moments with Caleb and Phillip [00:16:45]
  • Heading home [00:22:30]
  • My friend Walter and going back to work [00:26:30]
  • Handing my notice [00:33:00]
  • Finding Bonnie Blue [00:38:00]
  • My different ways of coping [00:50:30]

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 getting the advice to RUN and then the irony, I guess, of being run off from being in my brother's girlfriend's home [00:01:15] for my own family, specifically, my mother asking me to leave because of my reaction and yelling at me. And I was being called several names and I was drunk. I was out of control. I was all these things.

[00:01:28] And really what [00:01:30] was happening was I was having trauma. I was having post-traumatic stress and hearing the voice, my brother's voice that I knew I would never hear live again. It was traumatizing for me [00:01:45] and Caleb and his father, dear friend, Caleb, The older brother that I never had and now have, because we all know that Andrea's is irreplaceable.[00:02:00] 

[00:02:00] He's not only just a brother to me, he's a friend and confidant. He was so much to me, but Caleb was this older brother figure that I had never had and I am [00:02:15] completely, and it just will always be indebted to him and for being there for, for me at that time. And she's always in my life and Phillip, his father, they kind of rushed me out of there.

[00:02:27] And my father followed, it just [00:02:30] became drama. And there was a lot of drinking. There was a lot of alcohol going on, but for me to be the one, you know, yelled at and screamed at, it was, it was just even worse, like who needs to be treated that way [00:02:45] because we all learn differently. And I don't know that they have processed.

[00:02:49] Everything yet. I don't know that quite a few of them had, had really processed. Like you're never going to see this guy again in your life, [00:03:00] regardless of who it was. Right. So for some of them, it was their son, their brother lover could have been potential, you know, family member in the future. It was a lot.

[00:03:11] And we went back to the hotel. I [00:03:15] don't even remember. I was so upset. I was just, it makes me emotional. This episode is actually really much more difficult than I thought it was going to be to record some of the other ones. I thought I was going to just completely break down, [00:03:30] but this one I'm having trouble doing, because these are some moments that I have not spoken about.

[00:03:37] These are some really intimate moments of the process that I have not talked about. [00:03:45] And I'm just going to kind of roll with it. And I'm sure you guys listening can understand this because in the moments afterwards, you feel very lost. And I remember feeling very [00:04:00] grateful that I had Caleb at my side and Phillip and my own father, a lot of masculine energy around me, which I think was needed because of the fact that I lost my brother.

[00:04:12] And I'm telling this in almost [00:04:15] realizing this at the same time and really being raw and open about this, because I did not realize this episode was going to be this difficult, that the post, you know, the aftermath of walking away from that kind of that final [00:04:30] moment when, when we put his ashes, you know, into this Creek and yes, I still had ashes in an urn and I also had taken, I don't think I shared this with you guys yet, but I'd taken his ashes.

[00:04:41] And I've also bought this necklace where if you go back through my social media [00:04:45] and I wear it from time to time now as well, And it's a necklace where you can carry your brother's ashes with you. And while I say brother, but you know, your sister, whomever, you've lost. And it's, it's like the tree of life [00:05:00] like I have on his earth.

[00:05:01] And so I had that with me and I was just really obsessed with keeping him with me. And those were two ways that I was doing it at the time. And we get back to the hotel and Caleb and his father went to their [00:05:15] room knowing that we would reconnect that evening. But I went to my father's room with, you know, my dog, little Scarlet and my father kind of laid on his bed.

[00:05:28] Cause there were two beds and I was going to stay in the [00:05:30] room with him that night because I was very emotionally distraught. It was, it was brutal. The state of mind I was in, if he even called that emotional state I was in and my father kind of, [00:05:45] it reminds me of those Disney movies where you kind of put your hands behind your head and you kind of kick up like the jungle book or something.

[00:05:52] And that's how you play. That's how he was laying on the bed. And I could tell he was rattled. I could [00:06:00] tell he was also emotional, but his reaction to emotional situations is different than mine. And I was, I was freaking out. I was really upset and I was venting to him and upset and telling him like, how can they be [00:06:15] comfortable with this?

[00:06:15] How can they just be blasting his music through here? Like how can you know, I'm not saying that it has to be as the solemn sad vent, if they're wanting to celebrate him. Cause my mother would refuse to call it a funeral or anything that. [00:06:30] Quote unquote, negative or anything like that, which I don't understand why it's negative.

[00:06:34] It's just what happened. But it had to be a celebration of life. It had to be positive. It had to be happy. Like we could never talk about it in a dark way. And I'm like, this is dark. This [00:06:45] is sad. We're going through something very real. And I felt like I was going crazy. I felt like I was going crazy because I felt like I was one of the only ones that was really sitting there going like, guys, like this is serious.

[00:06:59] Our brother was [00:07:00] murdered and it's okay for us to cry and be upset. And like, I don't want to pull anyone down into a dark place, but I just couldn't understand this. I could not understand this. I wanted to [00:07:15] celebrate his life, which I hope that comes through in, you know, my previous episode where I opened up completely and shared that eulogy.

[00:07:24] And that I wrote for the celebration of life, because I did want to celebrate his life, but I felt like [00:07:30] we were missing this other component completely where something really horrible had happened. And there were people in this family that I just felt weren't accepting it, or weren't [00:07:45] even acknowledging it.

[00:07:47] I think to ask someone to accept it that early, I wasn't even accepting it. I was just acknowledging it. And I know now that we all deal with grief differently and loss differently, but [00:08:00] it was just dumbfounding for me because I watched so much of it. I had, most of the movie played out in front of me. I had most of the, the visuals and I had most of the trauma.

[00:08:14] And at the [00:08:15] time I don't think I realized that that's why. Such a strong reaction. In addition to the fact that I had the strongest connection to my brother in a lot of ways to my parents, it's a different story. Those were his parents. You [00:08:30] can't change that kind of connection, but this is, it was just different.

[00:08:34] And my father heard me, he listened, but he finally calm me down as I'm on this rant, I'm, I'm kind of giving you guys a taste of how I was. I was getting back at them moment and [00:08:45] maybe this is why this episode is difficult for me. And he looks over at me a little bit, like with the side eye. And he says to me, he's like, why do you let them get to you?

[00:08:56] I think he maybe been used some choice words in that because that's my [00:09:00] father. And I said, what do you mean? What are you talking about? I'm just upset. And he's like, who the hell cares? Who cares? He's like, you have to figure out how you're going to move on with your life and live your life. That was probably not the [00:09:15] most empathetic or sympathetic way to communicate that at the time, I remember feeling a little jolted because he had been kind of highs and lows on, on the sympathy and empathy rollercoaster with me.[00:09:30] 

[00:09:30] But then I thought to him, I said, well, I know that dad, I remember saying that to him. I know that, but this is crazy. Like, don't you agree? This was crazy. And he's like, look, it doesn't matter. And that, that's my father's way of saying [00:09:45] yes, he knows, but he's not one to really go to battle on one side or the other, unless it's his own battle.

[00:09:52] And as we continue to kind of talk, he got up and, you know, I think he grabbed a drink or something and got a cigarette outside and came [00:10:00] back in and I'm just sitting there going like, what the hell is going on? What is going on? And it came back and he told me, look, you need to find a way to, you know, Move forward with your life, whether that's going through counseling, or if you need to go away for a little while.

[00:10:14] And he [00:10:15] started talking about some things and like therapy has been an amazing thing in my life, even prior to this. So it wasn't opposed to that. And I told him, of course, I'm going to continue with my therapy. And he was like, no, he's like, you've seen a lot, like, you might want to consider taking some time off.

[00:10:29] Like you need to [00:10:30] probably, you know, not work. And at the time he was offering to help me, he's like, you know, quit your job. I'll help you. Like, I think you need, need it. This has been a lot. And I told him, I said, that's not something I want to [00:10:45] do. No, no, no. I kept turning it down and he's like, no, seriously, which was an interesting evolution.

[00:10:52] It, that conversation. But at the time I was just like, not hearing any of that. And I I've never wanted anyone to support me other than myself. [00:11:00] And I've been so independent my whole life. And I didn't think that would be healthy. So I did make some decisions in the future, which I'll continue to share on this podcast that evolved and, and did help with my mental health.

[00:11:13] But [00:11:15] he was pretty adamant about the fact that I just needed to move on too. And I'm like, okay, I'm hearing this from two different sources. Now I'm hearing this from my father who wouldn't know, was not father of the year, but he's [00:11:30] coming from a very logical place. And then I heard this from the father of my brother's girlfriend, who I had a lot of respect for.

[00:11:36] It had a beautiful family and I'm like, okay, I know I'm not perfect. I know I'm making mistakes, but like [00:11:45] maybe I do need to walk away from this family for a while. Maybe this is really dysfunctional. What's going on? I started to have these thoughts and it became very overwhelming because I started to realize I didn't just lose my brother in all of this.

[00:11:58] I physically [00:12:00] lost. But I had probably lost my whole family as well. And even the thought of that starting to kick in, even though there was so much dysfunction already in the family, and I wasn't really close with anyone else in [00:12:15] my family, except for my youngest sister, it was really sinking in. And I think that part really broke my heart the most is that my youngest sister, who has been not only a sister to me, but like a [00:12:30] daughter to me, because I helped raise her.

[00:12:33] I realized that that would probably change the trajectory of our relationship. And I began to become so overwhelmed, but he told me that he would be there for me. And, you [00:12:45] know, he was, he was quite tired. He was emotionally tired and. The moment for me in this, where I was able to kind of like, let him kind of lay with his peace.

[00:12:55] And I left the room was when he was kind of just telling me that [00:13:00] yes, I needed to move on. And yes, you know, I needed to figure out how to cope with this and deal with this, but I could look over and see the pain. I knew that he felt betrayed by the things that had happened over the past [00:13:15] two weeks now at this point and the lies and the deceit and how there is still so much dysfunction in this family.

[00:13:25] And the night before the celebration of [00:13:30] life, I started to think back to my father and I in the lobby when I had returned from helping my mother run her errands and I was waiting for Caleb and Phillip to arrive. And I had sat down there talking, and we talked about a lot of things and I had told him [00:13:45] about some things in my past and life experiences that were traumatic for me and things he had missed. And we really opened up and he shared a lot about his, his wife now, his now wife. 


He shared that he was going to marry her [00:14:00] when he got back. He wanted me to be at the wedding. There were so many things, there were just so, so many deep things that were starting to happen, even if I couldn't be there.

[00:14:10] That wasn't a thing. I was just reflecting back on the [00:14:15] fact that like that had happened and I needed to kind of hold onto that. And I knew at that time my dad needed peace and he needed alone time. I could tell he was really struggling. I was struggling, but I needed something else I needed to not feel [00:14:30] alone.

[00:14:31] And so I told him, I said, okay, I'm gonna go and spend time with Philip and Caleb because they've come this way. And he said, absolutely. And he had so many kinds of things to say about. [00:14:45] And I think he really understood, uh, up Caleb's father a lot because he lost a son too. And there was a connection immediately there.

[00:14:59] And I [00:15:00] didn't realize at the time, but I was glad that I was able to provide that for my dad. And maybe he doesn't even realize that, but I think it was no one wants to join the club. No one wants to join the club that we're in with surviving siblings. Right. We don't want to [00:15:15] do this is not a club where I advise people like this is a fun club.

[00:15:18] Let's join it. Let's get together. No, but there is something in, you know, they're in that club of, you know, they've lost a son [00:15:30] and nobody else understands that other than them just like nobody else understands what we've gone through. Losing. And then there's different ways of losing, right? Like [00:15:45] watching someone go through a chronic illness, somebody going, being murdered, like my brother, where it's very sudden somebody dies of a substance overdose, which is very tragic and sudden also horrifying [00:16:00] and or suicide, which is also horrifying.

[00:16:02] And these are all things that, you know, I, I was scared for, for my brother to open this part up to you guys as well. I was scared for my brother as well, at many [00:16:15] points in my life. And I've been open and honest and told you that, you know, my brother wasn't an angel, he's now an angel, but he wasn't perfect.

[00:16:26] And he did struggle with these things on this earth. And [00:16:30] I was always scared to get that call, that something happened with substance or things like that. So my heart goes out to everybody, but I think that goes through this kind of law. I think the thing in that moment with my father was [00:16:45] that was a realization for me.

[00:16:46] I, so I left the room and I told him, I said, I'll be back later. And I went to go eat with Caleb and fill up. And I just, I went into the room and I was just embraced with love, which is so important [00:17:00] when you're going through this. And if I could give you any advice, bring people into your life. If you can, I can just give you so much love because that's all they've ever done [00:17:15] for me is just bring me so much love.

[00:17:18] And I think sometimes people think my relationship with Caleb is interesting and unique because we're so alike and different in so many different ways. I mean, he's from the [00:17:30] middle of nowhere, Georgia, actually, I shouldn't say that he's from where the onions are from, Vidalia. But we have this deep connection that is indescribable, but we've also been through something [00:17:45] like you guys have been through.

[00:17:47] As I have been through, we've lost a sibling, which brought us even closer in a way that I would not wish on anyone. But when I entered that room, that was what happened. I was embraced and [00:18:00] given a big, tall glass of bourbon because that was our thing. And that was a thing in the Harrison household. And I'm an honorary Harrison.

[00:18:09] I, they were never able to have a daughter. And so they always call me their daughter. And I'm so [00:18:15] honored by that. I'm honored to this day and it makes me emotional, but the three of us sat on the, on this, uh, you know, on the little porch at the hotel deck, people hold [00:18:30] different things. I don't know, whatever you call that.

[00:18:32] And, uh, there was a lot of greenery outside on this view that we had. I remember just smiling to myself, thinking, okay, my brother just, he loves trees and I'm like, okay, there's [00:18:45] this big green tree, like out in front of us. And I'm like, okay, this is perfect. And we just sat there and we shared stories and we talked so much.

[00:18:51] And like we talked about their brother and son, Josh, and that whole situation and how he [00:19:00] had passed from, you know, H one N one swine flu and all of that. And it was really tragic. And my brother was there for me. And, you know, I shared the story that I've shared with you guys about my brother being there for me and how you didn't feel like if that happened to me, I'd be able to survive.

[00:19:14] And that was very [00:19:15] emotional. Having that conversation with them. I may have shared with that with Kayla before I did. I don't know, but I know it was more poignant to share it. Then I know Kayla, uh, Kim's father Philip didn't know that Andreas and I had spoken about that at that [00:19:30] time. It was a private moment and.

[00:19:34] We stayed up till I don't even know what time in the morning just talking. And it was like, so soul fulfilling. [00:19:45] And I even think back on it right now. And it was like, cause there was four chairs outside. So it almost felt like my brother was in the other chair because he knew them. And I know that he knew I was struggling.

[00:19:58] Definitely, [00:20:00] definitely. And that's why I think it's so important that you're around people that can love you and lift you up because I laughed. I laughed at night for the first time. They made me laugh, but the silliest things, they asked me about [00:20:15] the show and the filming and the craziness and all of that, that had been going on with.

[00:20:20] I will continue to talk about, but they asked me about, you know, the guy that I had been dating and how he had been thrown into this situation. And they were sending me so much positive energy. We [00:20:30] talked about the girl Caleb was dating and we talked about Philip and you know, what was going on with him?

[00:20:36] Because he had been, he had gotten divorced from Caleb's mother and it was just, we were able to [00:20:45] laugh and laughing was almost painful, but I was able to do that with them because of the love. So to this day, Phillip, Caleb's father, will still bring that night up. Not because [00:21:00] he's trying to bring up my brother's death, but because he remembers staying up and he stayed up later with me, then Caleb did.

[00:21:08] And he was just there for me. And I will never ever forget that those, those guys were my family forever. [00:21:15] And sometimes our families, not our book. But our blood is our family. And so what they do to us and with us, and for us can be helpful, hurtful, [00:21:30] painful, fulfilling. It can be so many things and it just hits a little differently.

[00:21:35] But when people who are not your blood and are your chosen family, do things like that for you, it's powerful. And I remember leaving [00:21:45] the room. Caleb had passed out and sneaking back, you know, to my father's room. Not that I mean, I was 30 years old and he doesn't care, but he was asleep and we spoke in the morning again.

[00:21:56] And I remember him giving me money and saying, [00:22:00] pay for Philip. And Caleb's like breakfast. And, you know, he wanted to give some money. And I was like, dad, that's very kind like, thank you for that. He's like, no, I'm serious. He was like, they're amazing people. And he's like, I'm really glad you have people like that in your [00:22:15] life.

[00:22:15] And it was just so awesome to have. Crossover. And I try to, even now sitting here telling the story, try to find that kind of, I don't know if a silver lining is the best way, but at the time it was. [00:22:30] And so we walked down to have breakfast. My father joined us for like a little bit and then, you know, left and Caleb and Philip had to leave of course and go home.

[00:22:40] And my father was in the lobby with, you know, most of the, most of the [00:22:45] family that was still there waiting to leave to for different flights and things like that. And I had to walk back by there with my head, held high, to go get my bag and go get Scarlet. And my father said goodbye to me and my whole family just stared [00:23:00] laughing.

[00:23:00] And you know, I'm not saying they were laughing at me or anything like that. Not that I cared, but nobody came to say goodbye to me. Nobody came to say anything to me, but I felt like the love and the true support that I didn't been given. [00:23:15] I knew that was going to be enough for me. I was strong enough to do this.

[00:23:20] And my dad told me, he said, remember what I said? And I just told him, I said, okay. You know, when I told him that I loved him and I appreciated everything, I appreciated his [00:23:30] support. And I walked out those doors with Scarlet and I got into my car. Of course it was raining, never forget it. And I remember driving down that [00:23:45] kind of long highway and then on to 75, 85 to get back to my condo in the city.

[00:23:52] And when I got home, I brought the bags and brought scar in and I just sat on the couch, the couch that I had sat [00:24:00] on and laid on more or less really laid on for that whole week, just waiting with anxiety. And I was clutching a necklace with the ashes of my brother of course, had earned. [00:24:15] I actually sat in silence for the longest time.

[00:24:19] And I remember going just numb, like this is this is it. What now? What do I do now? This was December 4th. That [00:24:30] Sunday, what do I do now? What does anyone do after that? Is this, it is this done. My brother was murdered. It was a homicide think. Or [00:24:45] has this all just be gone? I had all these questions starting to roll around in my head.

[00:24:50] And then I would kind of check in with my heart. I just felt like, no, I don't think my heart, but my body was numb. So I stared at these walls [00:25:00] in the condo that I lived in owned at the time. And they were these like grayish almost, almost like a hint of blue. And I'm looking at them and I'm thinking. I want to look away from this wall because if I [00:25:15] do, I think everything's going to be too real.

[00:25:18] And eventually I got to a point where I could put up some bags, you know, my clothes and things that I had brought in took care of my dog. Of course, [00:25:30] I highly recommend a dog or some or a cat or whatever kind of person you are is support too, because it helps really helps to have something that you are responsible for.

[00:25:41] If you have children, oh my God, God bless you. But [00:25:45] I laid back on that couch, but I kept myself kind of propped up this time and I turned that, turn the office right back on again. And I was like, I need to sleep. I need to sleep. And at that point, you know, I was still [00:26:00] dating this guy, that same guy, but he was so new and I wanted to see him.

[00:26:07] I didn't, he was so busy with work and. I needed comfort. I knew my friends [00:26:15] and, um, my friend at the time, Walter, who I known for a very long time, we had toured together. I known him since, oh my God, January of 2010, since I had really started my corporate career. And he [00:26:30] was very worried about me and he ended up coming over, I believe that next morning, or even late that night and told me you can't be here by yourself.

[00:26:40] Like you can't you've, you've got to get out of here. You've got to, you know, and he had [00:26:45] a dog as well that he had adopted. And I was like, no, I gotta just be here. I got to keep moving forward because I was on leave from work. But I wanted to get back to work and he's like, no, I don't know if you need to.

[00:26:58] But, so he came [00:27:00] over and he spent some time with me and I tried to go back to work that week. Yeah. Talk about crazy. So I decided that I think I spent the night at his place. Just kind of get a change of pace, a change [00:27:15] of, you know, but I needed to be home. And so I think he stayed with me and I as well.

[00:27:20] And then I was like, I'm going back to work. I mean, the middle of the week. And he's like, you gotta be kidding. Like you can't go back to work and I'm like, yeah, I'm going to go back to work. So I [00:27:30] end up going back to work at this corporate job I was at at the time that I had changed from when I was working at David's I, I changed.

[00:27:36] So I'm in this new job and filming this ridiculous reality show. Like here I am. I'm like thrust myself back in all of this. And I [00:27:45] think I thought that, I mean, I believe this now looking back on it, but if I just got myself busy again, or if I had something that I was doing, and I remember locking my going in and [00:28:00] locking myself in my office and my boss came in to talk to.

[00:28:05] Finally at one point she was like, what are you doing here? And she was the vice president of North America for this service office company that I was working for. And she was grooming. She was [00:28:15] grooming me to obviously be the director of North America. But then, you know, she was going to step aside one day.

[00:28:21] And so this was a huge gig. This is a huge role. And I said, I don't know. And she looked at me and said, [00:28:30] look, I need to share something with you and I need to talk to you. And I said, okay. And she goes, I lost my brother to pancreatic cancer last year. And I said, oh my God, I had no idea. I'm so sorry. You know, all the things you say when [00:28:45] you're like, not really sure what to say, because I was still kind of learning that myself.

[00:28:49] And she was like, it's hard. She was, my brother was everything to me and it broke me and she goes, even I took [00:29:00] time away from work. You need to close up everything and go. Because I started crying and I'm not the person to cry in front of people. Now. I'm not afraid to no, I don't hold back. I'm crying throughout this whole podcast, but [00:29:15] more like tearing up.

[00:29:16] If I had done this podcast five years ago, I would have been a wreck, but then I started crying in front of her though. But I felt very, again, comforted and felt the love from her. I was very blessed to be [00:29:30] working for someone like this. And I believe that people are in your life for a reason. And she reminded me a lot of the first boss that I had at a corporate level.

[00:29:37] She was like the same type of person. She even looked the same as her. It was very bizarre. And also, I, [00:29:45] there's no doubt in my mind that this was happening for a reason. And she's like, pack up your stuff and go home. And I'm like, I need to work. I need to do something. And she said, if you want to work, it's fine.

[00:29:54] It's optional. But you're paid. I said, okay. She goes, I need you to do that. And [00:30:00] she goes, but before you leave, she goes, I need you to come to my office that because he talked to you. And so I think I ended up working one more day or so, because I just thought of, so I'm so stubborn guys. I mean, I don't know, [00:30:15] some of us listened to the advice, some of us don't.

[00:30:17] I listened to some advice. I didn't listen to some, this took me. I think it took her a couple of tries because I did go home early that day, but I came back and I think it was the end of that week. She called me into her office that Friday. Yep. [00:30:30] This is exactly what happened. And I said to her, I said, what's going on?

[00:30:34] You know, is everything okay? I thought she was going to be like, go home again when she'd gone to was, but she said, look, she said, I want to tell you, I am [00:30:45] leaving the company effective at the end of December. And I was. What? And she's like, yes. And I'm like, what do you mean? Like, when is your last day?

[00:30:54] She's like December 31st, but she goes, I'm like, I'm leaving the office. Like next week will be my last week in the [00:31:00] office. And I remember just looking at her and I am quite fair as it is. I probably turned like pasty, pasty white. And she looked at me and she said, you can do what you want. She goes, I [00:31:15] don't know what will happen with the corporate, but corporate positions here.

[00:31:18] And I'm like, yeah, cause I'm thinking what's the trajectory for me because I came in under her, like to eventually like move up under her. And I was like, oh my God, this is so much to take in. [00:31:30] Like now I could potentially lose my job. Like what's and she's like, you're not gonna lose your job. But like, I don't know what your role would be.

[00:31:36] Exactly. And I'm like also thinking to myself. Okay, great. So like VP's gone, like when I move into her role, basically doing all her [00:31:45] work for less, like all these things. Running in your head. And I can't even, how can I even process something like that? And so I start speaking to her about it and she's like, I don't know.

[00:31:57] And she goes, do you want to take the rest of the day to think about it? And I [00:32:00] said, I do. And so I went back to my office. So then she comes back to my office again, later that day. And she's like, what are you still doing here? I'm like, I'm thinking about it. She goes, go home. And she goes, what do you want to do?

[00:32:10] And I said, with you gone, I'm not here. I said, [00:32:15] I took this job and I changed V you know, verticals and kind of, you know, where I was in. And, you know, I came from corporate retail. This isn't the same thing. It's not so crazy different, but because of you like her as mentor, she's crazy [00:32:30] smart. Went to Harvard, multiple degrees.

[00:32:33] Not that, that matters all the time in this world. She was so smart and I had so much respect for her, for her. And she had been a VP and at several [00:32:45] companies and still is today. And she said, look, I didn't take time off. And she goes, you need to. And I said, okay. And she goes, look, as long as I'm here, you'll get paid.

[00:32:55] If you want to take time off, just think about it. And I told her, I said, I don't think I [00:33:00] can be here without you. She goes, I get that. So we ended up conversing. I left early again. And that Monday I put in my resignation finally, to jump for this story. And I said that I [00:33:15] would work through December 31st because she knew my situation and she understood everything.

[00:33:22] She told me that she had never really processed everything that went on with her brother. So she wasn't gonna work afterwards for a while either. And she told me, she said, where [00:33:30] she landed. She was. You're coming with me. I said, okay. But she was like, you're not doing a thing. She goes, you take this time for yourself and we're paying you through the end of the year.

[00:33:40] And she did. But at that [00:33:45] point, you know, I was making that decision over the weekend and I knew the decision was right. I knew it was there. I had that as the support. I was once again, surrounded by love, even at work, I didn't [00:34:00] even realize it. And I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful to the state for that. And I would never have stopped work.

[00:34:09] I would've just kept going to work. So at that point, my friend Walter [00:34:15] was like, you're going to come stay with me. Like, let's hang out. You know, we'll make things a little more normal. And I'm thinking to myself I'm more normal. Like, so here we are, it must have been like December 9th. And I. [00:34:30] No, I'm going to be off work.

[00:34:33] And, you know, I look up at Walter cause I may, I think I just even popped in that day. It was like nothing. And then I was out after that conversation with my boss and [00:34:45] I look at Walter and I'm like, I feel like whole life is falling apart. Like everything is falling apart. I mean, my brother has been murdered my job.

[00:34:53] Like I don't have a boss anymore. I mean, like she's a great connection friend and, and [00:35:00] still have contact with her on and off to this day. But I'm like, what is going on? Like, so I'm like, I need to be around animals. And he's like, I don't know if this is a great idea. And he's like, why don't we just hang [00:35:15] out?

[00:35:15] I think this was like a Friday that Friday. Um, cause I was like, I'm out. Like I was exhausted and he's like, you need to come pack your stuff and come be with me. And I'm like, great. I'm like, let's go, let's go look at animals. I want to be around animals. I needed that crave that I wanted that [00:35:30] unconditional glove.

[00:35:31] I love animals. That's why I'm like have an animal in your life. And I had booked before my brother passed, I had been wanting to get a companion for Scarlet and I wanted another, I want another dog. I wanted a boy wanted to name it. [00:35:45] Rep Butler. I had like all these perfect things like picked out, right. It was going to be another shih tzu, like scars, shih tzu, Yorkie mix.

[00:35:53] It was gonna be a shih tzu. Cause I really liked shih tzu. And like I found one, it didn't work like the animal was going to [00:36:00] work out with another animal. So like, it's funny how we try to pick our own destiny and that's not how life works. We can want things, but I find it, you know, whether it's God or the universe, I find it [00:36:15] that, you know, God universe, whatever you believe in kind of laughs at us sometimes and goes, wait a second, open up.

[00:36:22] Cause I got something better for you. And this is what I believe is true of this story. And so I felt so [00:36:30] compelled to go be around dogs that day. And I remember Walter being like, ah, I don't know, Maya. I'm like really raw, right? Like here we go. Like brother homicide, I'm a wreck. Don't think I'm going to have a relationship with my family ever [00:36:45] again with some of them was not really new, but with some of them, it was significant and hard and I didn't feel supported and it was heartbreaking.

[00:36:55] And you know, here I am with this career, you know, thought I was like, [00:37:00] this is it, hit it. The career that I've been trending towards and 30 made it. Nope, not so much. Everything was falling over. I wanted this love. I wanted this complete supportive love and Walter [00:37:15] amongst many things, you know, we toured together.

[00:37:17] He came from, you know, AAV production, all of that. But he also came from a radio background, but he also has a photography background. So he used to, he actually shot photos of me in the past, but he [00:37:30] volunteered like I did as well. And he shot like the photos. So when you adopt a dog, like he shot those photos.

[00:37:36] So we could go anytime we wanted and just hanging out or whatever. And I'm like, please take me, please take me. I don't know why I felt so compelled to stay. I don't know what it was. I [00:37:45] felt so compelled and I'm a hot mess. I'm like, I I'm like I gotta, I gotta go. I gotta be around love. And he's like, okay, there's apprehension for sure.

[00:37:54] So we go to the Atlanta humane society where he, as I said, [00:38:00] took these pictures of the dogs that needed to be adopted. And we're just kind of walking around. There's a small dog area. That you go into first and I'm walking through and I'm meeting some of the ladies. Cause I didn't really know everybody like he did.[00:38:15] 

[00:38:15] I wasn't that involved at the time at all, compared to how I volunteered prior to the pandemic, I was very involved and I'm walking through and there's so many cute dogs. I'm just feeling the love. I'm like patting them. It's so cute. And then I get [00:38:30] to like the fourth or fifth, like stall on the left-hand side.

[00:38:33] Cause it's a big area and there's this little Chihuahua like looking dog in a Komono and I'm like, this is an interesting [00:38:45] outfit and this dog has on. And she's just like looking up at me with the saddest looking eyes I've seen in awhile. And I just, I stopped. It was like literally someone had a remote [00:39:00] control on me and stopped me in front of the stall.

[00:39:03] And I remember saying to. My friend, Walter Walter w like, look at this dog, if it stopped. And she started to kind of go like mine up at me and like, look at me. [00:39:15] And he was like, yeah, she's really cute. She's really cute. And I'll never forget that her name was Laura, you know? Cause I love what these places do.

[00:39:25] And I'm so supportive of the Atlanta humane society. I'll just plug them again on here, but [00:39:30] you know, they always give them, like, if they don't have a name, they give him like sometimes a human name. And I'm like, which I probably shouldn't say anything with my dog names, but Laura was like, so humanizing, especially because I have a friend more than actually more than [00:39:45] one friend named Laura.

[00:39:46] So I'm like, Laura, I'm like, this is not a flora. And like, she's just looking at me and she's like,

[00:39:55] And she starts jumping at me. I'm like, oh my God. I'm like this dog. I'm like, I don't know what it is, Walter. I'm [00:40:00] so connected to this dog. And he's like, okay. He's like, let's go look at the other dogs and you know, and he's, I can tell he's already like, oh God, we're in trouble today. So we're walking around and we walked the whole, there was another, another dog that was very [00:40:15] sweet too, that he was into.

[00:40:16] And I'm like, okay, you don't need another dog. You're like traveling way more than me. I'm like, who am I to judge? And then we went to go see the big dogs. And then we came back and when we walked back into the small dog area, the [00:40:30] woman that was on duty that day, I don't remember her name, but she's the sweetest lady.

[00:40:33] Oh my gosh. And she was like, guys like Walter Maya. And I'm like, yeah. She's like, Laura has not that little dog over there. And I'm like, yeah. I'm like, I remembered her. Of course. I'm like [00:40:45] ready to like pick her up now. She's like, she has not stopped whining since you left the room. And I was like, oh, she goes, no, you don't understand.

[00:40:54] Like, she's we only had her for like three days and she's been silent. Like, she's been quiet. [00:41:00] She's like not responding to people. And she's been crying like whining since you left. And Walter looked at me and was like, oh no. Oh crap. And I walked over back over to her and she starts [00:41:15] jumping up at me and starts whining again.

[00:41:19] And Walter was like, oh gosh, again. And this wonderful woman was like, would you like to, you know, visit with her? Cause there's the areas where you can [00:41:30] visit and see if you have a connection, which I think we already know where this goes. And so. I was like, yes. And Walter was like, oh my God. And so we go in the room and we'll just like, I'll go get the paperwork.

[00:41:43] And I'm like, what are you talking about? I'm [00:41:45] like, I'm just going to meet her. He goes, I'll go get the paperwork. So her and I go into the room together and they sat her down and leave the room. And I crouched down, this is emotional to this day, I crouched down and [00:42:00] she puts her paws. She jumps up and puts her paws in my hands.

[00:42:05] And I'm so grateful because Walter got this picture and that was it. He was like, all right, here's the paperwork. He's like, you're, you're getting here. I was like, [00:42:15] yep, that's it. I knew it. I didn't know who this dog was. What it was, she was this angel. I couldn't explain it. I couldn't explain it. I was like, what?

[00:42:28] Why is this dog? So [00:42:30] like giving me so much love when she came in, she had been abused and they didn't have a ton of information, but she had just been spayed. They took her and they spayed her and she had been abused. And that was some of the stuff they had been telling us, you know, as the paperwork was starting to be [00:42:45] filled out.

[00:42:45] But I just, that was it. We were attached and the thing was, she was everything that I was not looking for. Right. I was trying, I was looking for a guide dog to be a Scarlet because I thought that's what you're supposed to do. Whatever [00:43:00] I wanted, like this Shitzu or something, you know, I was open to other ones, but she was a Chiweenie, like mix kind of mutt, you know, still tiny dog.

[00:43:09] But like, I didn't, I mean, I love chihuahuas joking around, but that was not like the dog I was looking at. [00:43:15] At all. I had a girlfriend who had multiple chihuahuas, which is the girlfriend that I was speaking about at the very beginning of this podcast. That's the home I was at when I heard that my brother got shot.

[00:43:26] Okay. There's weird part number one, then I was not thinking about, [00:43:30] so Walter is snapping all these pictures to me signing the paperwork, you know, I'm like, I'm not even paying attention. Like I'm so enamored with this dog. Like we were just like, so in love, I'm like thinking the back of my mind, I'm going, oh God, I didn't even think like Scarlet and her.

[00:43:44] Hopefully they get [00:43:45] along. Like I hope they get along. And Walter is posing for me on social media, because this was a way for me to cope as well. And I all of a sudden start getting text messages from my brother's girlfriend, [00:44:00] because we were still staying in contact. God loved this girl. She is a beautiful person.

[00:44:06] And she goes, oh my God. Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God! I'm like what? And she's like, And we're like headed out to the car at this point, you [00:44:15] know, and there's pictures of me holding this dog, like a baby and stuff. And I decided at this point to name the dog, Bonnie Blue, after for a couple of reasons, I flipped her on a couple of names because I wanted, [00:44:30] obviously the Gone with the wind theme, Scarlett O'Hara is my first dog.

[00:44:34] So I was like, okay, what do I name the stock? Like, I want it to be on theme, but I want it to be like my brother and my brother's favorite color was blue. So I was like, Bonnie blue is [00:44:45] good. I was like, but there's also Chrissy in the movie. My brother's middle name is Christian. I was like, what do I do?

[00:44:48] What do I do? And Bonnie blue is just too perfect. So I went with Bonnie blue and it, it works for her. She, she loves the name and response to it to this day. Very, very well. [00:45:00] But as we're getting into the car, um, you know, relieving, phishing paperwork, My brother's girlfriend is like, your, this is crazy. Like, you're never going to believe this.

[00:45:10] Oh my God. I'm like, God, I'm like, what is going on? She starts sending me [00:45:15] pictures of my brother holding chihuahuas. And she starts telling me, she goes, you know, in the recent year or so your brother had been wanting a dog and he wanted a Chihuahua or a Chihuahua mix. [00:45:30] You guys, my heart, literally, if it can stop and you can still live, like it stopped.

[00:45:39] How was that possible? How, how was that possible? And then I [00:45:45] realized this is so like culturally inappropriate, but it was a thing. And I do think this was a sign. My brother was obsessed with the Asian culture and I didn't realize it, but the, this dog, no other dog there, because they just put dogs in whatever clothing is available to [00:46:00] keep them warm.

[00:46:01] I know. Cause I volunteered there. She was in a kimono. My brother's girlfriend is half Korean. I was like, oh my God. Like, I think [00:46:15] sometimes when we've lost someone, we think, you know, are we grasping at straws for a sign? Are we just looking for things? Are we, I knew right then and there, if I didn't, even if I [00:46:30] needed more confirmation than that, I remember getting back there that day and her and Scarlet hit it off immediately.

[00:46:39] And I really should have gotten them to like bond before. Cause you're supposed to do that with dogs and I knew better, [00:46:45] but I was operating from this like magnetic. This dog was my angel. This dog came from my brother and I believe that. And so I, I guess what I would say to you guys as a surviving sibling [00:47:00] is like, this was a way for me to cope.

[00:47:01] I was just like starved for ways to cope, but this was a sign. There was no way. I didn't know that. I didn't know anything about that. I didn't know anything about him wanting to, I was, I knew my brother loved animals. He always did. Of course. So both of my [00:47:15] dogs that I have are just so special to me, they're everything to me.

[00:47:21] I mean, my family's everything to me, of course, the family that I've built now, but know that was my little family unit and the fact that she'd fit in just so [00:47:30] flawlessly and perfectly, and they're best friends. My dogs are best friends and I couldn't believe it. I could not believe it. I was blown away.

[00:47:39] And then something came to me later on when I was looking at her paperwork, her Laura [00:47:45] paperwork. And of course we changed her name to Bonnie blue. I started to look at the date and we adopted her on 12, nine, my brother and I's birthday is nine twenty one. [00:48:00] It was our birthday backwards. I did not plan that.

[00:48:06] I felt compelled to go that day. It was actually not a convenient day for Walter and I to go. And that was the day we went and that was the day she was [00:48:15] adopted. And that's the day we celebrate her birthday because we don't know her when a hundred percent true age, it was way too weird. And I know now that was assigned for my brother and it was a beautiful, beautiful thing.

[00:48:29] And she [00:48:30] has turned out to be, I love my Scarlet, but Bonnie has turned out to be like, she's the sweetest dog in the world, sweetest dog in the world. And. I will say one more thing. So I love talking about my dogs. My brother's first word was eat. And let me tell you [00:48:45] something, this girl loves to eat. So I could be just to go into this there.

[00:48:49] I don't know, but to kind of bring some levity to the situation, but that was really, really wild, really wild, but it was a way of me coping and I [00:49:00] felt compelled, but I think this was deeper. I really think this was deeper because I felt drawn. So I would just say to you, if you feel drawn to do something, or I know now, at least I believe this from my heart of hearts, that that [00:49:15] was him.

[00:49:15] That was him knowing I needed this weak girl, my life. And you know, my brother liked things to be about him. So of course I ended up adopting a dog that was the kind of dog he would have wanted. I'm not surprised, [00:49:30] but I've never regretted it a single moment in my life. The other thing that I did almost immediately after.

[00:49:38] That I, I failed to mention it. So I want to go back to this to kind of cope with [00:49:45] the situation. I didn't feel like having his ashes and having the necklace. I thought that was going to be enough. I thought that was like intense enough. And like all these coping, trying to cope with all these different things.

[00:49:58] And like, [00:50:00] I think it was also so hard for me knowing that I was never able to go to his home and you know, my mother kind of disguised it in the sense that I wouldn't be able to deal with it. You know, you wouldn't be able to deal with seeing it. Well, little did she realize what I [00:50:15] had seen? I had seen a whole lot worse.

[00:50:16] I could have dealt with that. So I was trying to cope, trying to cope. So prior to getting Bonnie and prior to that really beautiful moment and being compelled to that, my [00:50:30] not my best friends in the world, Sloan, she lost her mother. As well, and I believe I brought it up before two weeks before I lost my brother and I had never had a tattoo in my life, my life.

[00:50:44] And [00:50:45] I always said, you know, I won't get a tattoo until I get married. Or like I'm at a certain age, it was never a no forever. It was just like, I won't like, and I thought I might get like, you know, like on my ring finger or something for my husband, something like that. [00:51:00] Oh, does life change? So she, my girlfriend wanted to get her first tattoo as well.

[00:51:07] And we kind of were both thinking about this because she had lost both her parents now at this point. And I, my friend [00:51:15] Walter was kind of helping me through this. This was three days before I got Bonnie's. This would have been on the sixth and I'm still trying to go to work. And like, I'm, I'm like all over the place, just trying to cope, thinking.

[00:51:26] I need to go back to work, trying to cope. Now I'm going to get a tattoo, like. [00:51:30] I was really grasping at so much to feel that's the best way for me to say this. I was trying to feel something. So when I found this [00:51:45] guy, this tattoo artist, I guess you could be certified to like put, maybe this is still a thing.

[00:51:50] I don't know. I haven't looked into it sentence, but at the time, I don't know. I don't know if it is still okay. But, um, you could be certified to actually take like a foreign [00:52:00] foreign. They call it foreign type thing. Like the ashes of the person that's passed or whatever, and they'll tattoo it into your body.

[00:52:09] So her and I were like, yes, we're going to go do that. And so we. And I, I thought like, okay, like, I'm going to [00:52:15] feel the pain. Like I, this was the mindset I was in. I went into like, feel this pain, looking back on that. It makes sense to me because I was so numb when I sat on that couch that Sunday just being like, cause it was like two days later and I was like, just put it [00:52:30] in me.

[00:52:30] Cause yeah, it was right before I went back to work and then I had this tattoo. And so we went to this, it was called owl, something here in Atlanta and this guy was certified and my girlfriend had a tattoo. She [00:52:45] wanted her on her back with her parents, like information. It was really beautiful, what she wanted and she was ready to get hers and vulture drove both of us.

[00:52:55] And I, of course I'm like, I'll go first. Like I'm cool. Like whatever. [00:53:00] And so I have. Nothing drawn out. I'm like, I just had the ashes. I'm like, I'm ready. Look, let's go. And he's like, well, what do you want? And I'm like, I want his birthday. I want his death date because they were both the 21st, which is [00:53:15] still trippy.

[00:53:16] And I said, I want his initials. Of course. And I want the word dream. And so he, you know, he goes back and he draws it up and comes back and I'm like, yeah, that's cool. And so I ended up getting it on the left side of my [00:53:30] body. Like it was supposed to be further down near my ribs, rib cage. And because I was so tiny at the time, it's now higher up on my body because I wasn't eating.

[00:53:42] I wasn't, yeah. It was not a good time, of course. [00:53:45] But at the time I was like, whatever, it's my first tattoo. Like you're naive. I'm just like, it's gnarly because you're, it's, it's, it's a weird feeling because it's grainier, but I didn't know that, cause it was my first tattoo. I know that now because I've had other [00:54:00] ones, but.

[00:54:01] It's grainier. Cause they're putting this in there. So it, it feels weird. I don't know if it's more painful. I just, I wasn't feeling anything cause I was numb on life. And so I was trying to do [00:54:15] this to feel something I wanted to commemorate him. That was definitely the number one reason. But I know now I was also trying to feel like I wanted to feel pain.

[00:54:26] Like I wanted to get this out. Like I [00:54:30] wanted something like I even like feel it now going back there to feel real. And I remember getting it done and I was like, okay. I'm like, I got this. Like, here's something [00:54:45] physical that I can look at every day to tell my body. And I, I love this, this man. Like I love this guy.

[00:54:50] Like he is he's my bro for life. Like, and. That's still didn't, it didn't feel like enough, but it felt like [00:55:00] one more step in my journey. But I remember it being so important that I did that. And I remember some people being really shocked, like, wow, I remember years before chastising my youngest sister for getting these [00:55:15] massive like tattoos.

[00:55:16] And, you know, I definitely have a lot of remorse for that. And I've apologized to her since, because I definitely said some choice words to her and I was judgmental, but it was more because she was so young and I just didn't want her to [00:55:30] make anything that any mistakes where she couldn't, I don't know, tattoos had a different stigma back then, you know, it was a different thing.

[00:55:37] Now nobody cares as much it's different. And so I just wanted her to have so many choices and things in her [00:55:45] life. And so it kind of came full circle for me. That that was the way that I was trying to. Released some pain that was in stuck inside of me. And I guess the thing that I would tell you as a surviving [00:56:00] sibling, or if you're supporting one, listening to this, that didn't help.

[00:56:07] Yes, it did. It did. Obviously I adopted a dog three days later, but that, that was [00:56:15] something that I felt called. Like I felt called to do that because that was a place that my brother, I mean, I'm very spiritual, uh, as you'll hear me talk about as I continue the podcast and I do feel like [00:56:30] that was a sign, I do believe in signs.

[00:56:33] So going to the humane society to adopt. Beautiful dog. That's still in my life and happy and healthy and was a great addition to the family. You know, that was a part of [00:56:45] the healing and it wasn't as painful that process. It became, I don't know, it became healing from more than one person. I think it was also healing for his girlfriend to see that because there was no way I could have known Ballou both of our minds, but the [00:57:00] tattoos situation, it was also very bonding for me and my girlfriend, having a grief kind of partner.

[00:57:06] That's what I would refer to her as not only as that, like her and I are still. Wonderful great friends to [00:57:15] one of my best friends to this day, but we really bonded during that time and having somebody that can relate to you, you know, she lost her parents, which is, which is a different experience. I lost my brother to a murder, which is a different [00:57:30] experience, but loss is loss.

[00:57:32] And so we could still bond. Now. She definitely needed to go on her journey and understand certain things. And I am on my journey still. And I connect with other people about sibling loss [00:57:45] because, and also with murder and homicide, but having a grief buddy, that's something that I also had to learn. So in all of this and in all, all of these things that I was doing to cope, [00:58:00] I think it really propelled me into, I don't know if I was healing yet.

[00:58:10] In my mind, I didn't realize it, but I actually was in my soul. [00:58:15] Bonnie was a gift from my brother, getting the tattoo was a way for me to be like, no one can ever take him from me. He's a part of my physical body until I go on and move on [00:58:30] from this life. And then I also had, and still have to this day, this beautiful friend that has, it was going through grief and loss as well.

[00:58:42] And, uh, she lost her mother suddenly. [00:58:45] And so we had that in common too. So there was kind of a double up there so she could understand me in that way. And I started to, I think he. But also [00:59:00] started to cope in these ways, but I need to, I needed to do what was right for myself. And I think that's the message.

[00:59:08] And I think that's why this episode was very difficult for me to record, because these were really [00:59:15] challenging things for me to do because I didn't want to get out of bed most days. And here I was like finding out my mentor, my boss, like I wasn't going to be around anymore. Was I going to take that time?

[00:59:26] Was I going to leave my job? I never thought I'd get a tattoo. [00:59:30] And here I am putting ashes of my brother who had been murdered inside of my body. I'm adopting this beautiful metal pop that I had no idea it would be in my life. And I have a great friend that I [00:59:45] consider to be just a soul sister for life.

[00:59:47] And I think it really was the beginning of not only coping. Cause I thought I was just kind of coping and holding up. Things would get dark again. They would definitely [01:00:00] get dark again, but this was the beginning of me putting one foot in front of the other and learning to live my life in a way that was independent and without my brother in the physical [01:00:15] world.

[01:00:15] And how would I do that? And how would I become a successful person without him here in the physical world as a surviving sibling.


[01:00:29] Thank you so [01:00:30] 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. And don't forget to tag us at surviving siblings podcast [01:00:45] so that more surviving siblings can find us, remember to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast.

[01:00:52] And don't forget to follow us on all social media. We're on Instagram, Twitter, and tick talk at [01:01:00] surviving siblings podcast. All links can be found in the show notes. So be sure to check those out too. Thank you again for the support and until the next episode, keep on surviving my surviving siblings.[01:01:15] .