July 5 marked the two-year anniversary of my brotherâ€™s death. Two years Iâ€™ve spent without my best friend by my side watching TV and eating fast food. Itâ€™s awful, but Iâ€™ll always think of it as the turning point in my life and the tragedy that made me who I am today.
Iâ€™m fine nowadays. Fine enough, at least.
I have a steady job with a good salary, a nice apartment, great friends, and a wonderful girlfriend. Except for the massive brother-shaped elephant in the room that arises every single time Iâ€™m asked about my siblings, my pain doesnâ€™t usually show itself in social situations.
However, it seems Iâ€™ve lost almost every bit of empathy for other peopleâ€™s problems. So, thereâ€™s that. I think of it like this: my arm got chopped off and everyone around me is bummed about a paper cut on their fingers. I sympathize, but I donâ€™t care.
Take, for example, a close friend who recently broke up with his girlfriend. He and I have spent hours together talking about his pain. His broken heart, his hurt feelings, his desire for comfort. I understood and I told him everything would be OK â€“Â I wanted to care, but I couldnâ€™t. Life after the death of a loved one is a life thatâ€™s permanently tainted. I try not to be pessimistic about it; in fact, I still find joys in many activities. I love the beach, I love my friends, I love my girlfriend, but my view on the world has zoomed out.
I used to live in a world where I found myself pruning the leaves of a broken branch, and now all around me is a lush forest of noise. I cannot â€“Â will not â€“Â get wrapped up in small problems anymore. Itâ€™s unfair, too. There are people out there whose pain is worse than mine. Pain Iâ€™ll never understand and pain theyâ€™ll never understand. They think the worst thing on earth is to be dumped and I know that it simply isnâ€™t. Iâ€™m selfish with my pain and Iâ€™m aware of it â€“Â in fact, Iâ€™m trying my hardest to not come off as an unfeeling robot; I know thereâ€™s always a light at the end of the tunnel and people lose sight of this.
When I tell people that things will get better, I really mean it. I wish it didnâ€™t take a horrific death to put things in perspective, but I consider it a blessing deep, deep undercover. It allowed me to let the little things go. I remember my life before and after. I used to obsess. I used to yell and scream and cry at tiny, little situations like girls and work and friends. Then, after July 5, I learned what real problems consisted of.
I do care about your problems, but Iâ€™m begging you all to put it in perspective and let the small things be small. Worse things can happen and they will happen â€“Â and youâ€™ll be so full of remorse when you realize youâ€™ve wasted your time fretting over small things instead of paying attention to the bigger themes in life.
My pain isnâ€™t more important than your pain, itâ€™s just more concentrated.
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