We are in Denver, Colorado right now; we had Nick's funeral this afternoon and as emotionally taxing as this day has been, every bit of it was equally beautiful.
In death, nothing is more comforting than being surrounded by family and friends who not only share in your grief and pain, but who also celebrate the life of the loved one lost. There is a natural flow to emotional events like this; at the heels of the hugs and the tears and the quiet apologies, there are words of encouragement and hope and peace. In between each layer of the grieving process, there is also the gift of laughter, when stories and fond memories are exchanged and offered to one another in the true spirit of a shared love. And all of this is so incredibly healing. I was SO moved by the 150+ people who showed up at his funeral today - so filled with gratitude for their presence and so touched by their words of love.
It has been said that a funeral or memorial service gives closure to the tragedy of loss. While I see the truth in this statement, I'm still trying to find exactly that: closure. Because at the moment, I don't have it. I'm still trying to understand. I still have unanswered questions. And the guilt...oh, the guilt. I am still struggling with the nonstop litany of thoughts lamenting his absence: all the things I would have, could have or should have said and done. Intellectually, I know these thoughts are counterproductive, but in my heart? It's what I feel.
I am sad. I am heartbroken. And honestly, I'm also a little angry. I'm angry because I did not see this coming. When someone is in such a desolate place that taking their own life is the only solution they see, you can't help but ask yourself why or how you could have possibly missed all the signs.
I share this piece of information not so that you might be a voyeur to my brother's cause of death, but because this tragedy has opened my eyes; it is my hope that my experience might raise your awareness to the pain of others. That we might all be a little more tuned-in to those in our lives who may be hurting but might not necessarily know how to ask for help. That we might all be better equipped to recognize when our loved ones are trying to navigate through dark days; to be their beacons of light and to reach out and offer our hands and our hearts so they know they aren't alone.
My brother was an amazing person; he was warm, caring, compassionate and so generous with his time, his love and his friendship. He was awesome...and crazy good-looking! He had an incredible spirit about him; he was lively, animated, extroverted and always the life of the party. But underneath this shiny and vibrant exterior, clearly, he was hurting. I deeply regret that I never suspected he was capable of doing the unthinkable, but I take comfort in the fact that he is resting now, at peace and flying free with my big brother Tony.
I love you, Little Nicky. I miss you, but I'll see you again someday.
Never waste an opportunity to let your family and friends know that you love them. Tell them. Often. Hug them. Tightly. Cherish every moment you have with them, because Life can change in an instant.
Friends, thank you again for your thoughts, your words of support and your continued prayers. I definitely feel them. With God's grace and your kindness, I am finding strength, comfort and peace.
Denver is beautiful, but cold (29 degrees today)! I am happy to be heading home to Maui tomorrow; if you wouldn't mind, please say a prayer and/or think positive thoughts for safe travels - I really, really, really detest flying...please and thank you!
Much love and Aloha to all of you. xoxo.