The way I grieve is by writing. When I try to talk, I usually start sobbing. Or, I just have too much to say throughout the day and it feels like I just don’t get over it that way. So, I turn to my blogs, seeking a place to remember my loved one. I turn to the internet to share my feelings.
Yesterday, my cousin took his own life.
I have been sporadically crying throughout the day, including this morning. I’m trying not to think about him, but I also don’t want to stop thinking about him.
B was three years younger than me, the same age as my younger brother. They were supposed to be “the pair,” since they were the same age, but B was quiet. He was reserved. He kept to himself at parties. He struggled with a lot of health problems since he was born, and it became a lifetime of medications and restrictions. He was studying to become a nurse, but we never really knew if that’s what he wanted or if that’s what he was just expected to go into.
He was my cousin on my dad’s side, the side that I barely knew. B and his younger brother were the only cousins on my dad’s side that we had in Hawaii, so it was always just us. They were my other brothers. I always saw B as my brother.
My brothers didn’t find similarities with him as much as they did with his younger brother, but I took a liking to him. I, too, liked to keep quiet, although never as quiet as him. One thing that we often went through with our Moon side was the dreaded family trips to Philippines. We all hated it, but we all went through it. We all followed our parents around, letting them lead us around in a foreign country surrounded by a language we barely knew and kept close to each other because of it. I’d always find comfort in B. We once spent a week in the Philippines staying indoors together, him reading his Game of Thrones book and me reading my books, instead of mingling with our family like we should have been.
Then, he’d speak. He was so funny. He kept making GoT references, comparing everything I talked about or what happened around us to events in the book. I couldn’t stop laughing. He was so quick, so witty, so smart when he opened his mouth. He was deathly allergic to peanuts, and when he saw that there were peanut snacks on our table, he picked each package up in front of us and threw them away. “No need to thank me. I just saved us all.”
I always talked to him, asked him how he was doing, kept him company even in silence. I laughed at his comments. I encouraged him to be himself around me. I knew he was different. I wanted, hoped to God, for him to know that I liked him the way he was, or that I was a cousin he could talk to if he wanted to. I always knew he was struggling internally with many things, but I couldn’t force him to open up to me. I did only what I thought I could do. And now, I wish I could have done more.
As it was, we had no idea how much pain he was in. Never in our lives would we have expected this to happen. He left behind his parents who had done everything his whole life to make him as comfortable as possible, a younger brother, and cousins on both sides who loved him more than anything. It really makes you think that no amount of people in your life will make you feel less alone when it comes to depression. I still don’t understand it. I’m having trouble processing that my cousin, my brother… is gone. Just like that.
The whole ordeal makes me think about my real brothers, who I’m thankfully very close to. We call each other to vent, we hang out, we talk about our feelings. I make sure that my brothers know I’m here. I don’t care what you know or think you know about your siblings or loved ones; the truth is, you don’t know anything unless you take the time out to talk to them and spend time with them. I can’t imagine losing one of them to something as tragic as suicide.
Next week will be the one year anniversary of my grandma’s passing. She went naturally. There was nothing else that medicine or science could’ve done — it was her time, it was coming and we knew it. The same with my other grandma the year before that. The holidays have become a time of loss for us.
I’ve lost a lot of family over the years, but yesterday was the first time I lost someone to something like this.
If you, or anyone you know, are suffering from suicidal thoughts, please don’t hesitate to talk to someone. You are never alone. You have a family, you have friends, and if you don’t, you have the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Call 1-800-273-8255. You are loved, wanted, and here for a reason.
To my cousin, I hope you finally found the peace you were looking for. I’ll always miss you.
I’m 25 years old, three years out of college, doing interim jobs in order to… not exactly survive, but just to do something with myself. I haven’t been happy in a long time.
I’m so lucky in the fact that C has a federal job, and even more lucky in the fact that he doesn’t mind supporting my bum self while I figure things out.
I graduated college with a Communication degree. In high school, I was very involved with graphic design. I didn’t think I was great at it, but other people did. I became a yearbook layout editor, I entered competitions (and won some), I made graduation programs, I even made invitations for a lot of my graduating friends.
My Filipino self refused to go to an art school. I thought a Communication degree was a nice medium.
I declared my Advertising concentration my Sophomore year of college, after joining the Advertising club and meeting a Senior on his way to Chicago Portfolio School. I learned about Art Direction and Copywriting, fell in love with “Creatives,” and believed I could succeed.
At first, I thought I’d be an Art Director. With my graphic design past, it only made sense. I never admitted it to anyone, but after a while, I wasn’t confident with my skills anymore. They were basic compared to others. I still earned a graphic design certificate, but I worked towards an English minor too. I started to write more. I started to appreciate the words in commercials more than the visuals, and decided that I would work towards becoming a Copywriter. I fought our department Dean for the Advanced Copywriting class to be offered so I could get as much as I could out of my liberal-arts college. I was going to be a Creative, no matter what.
I graduated college and spent a year in Hawai’i working, saving up to move out again with my husband. I found a Portfolio School in San Diego, fell in love, and saved up enough to enroll.
The year ended and we moved. I worked a crappy job at the zoo to make money. I contacted the portfolio school. I interviewed with the head of the studio. I made plans to start becoming what I wanted.
And then, I did.
I went to portfolio school to work towards becoming a Copywriter.
I did what I worked for. I did what I said I was going to do.
I. Did. It.
But, after almost a year taking classes, I realized I didn’t belong there.
I had the motivation. I had the ambition. I did work every single day, I stayed up for hours, I did everything they say a Copywriter should do in order to maximize idea potential.
The truth was, I inherently was not a “Creative.”
I love graphic design, I love writing, but I love order within it. I’m creative with parameters. My copywriting peers were witty on the spot, came up with these crazy ideas with a single word. I needed time to think. I needed examples. I needed rules, otherwise I didn’t know what I was doing.
One of my copywriting instructors praised me on being able to write formulaic lines, but it meant I couldn’t stray from one idea to another. The school’s founder sat me down and told me I needed to start thinking faster, because how I was doing now wouldn’t cut it in the industry.
I started to freak out. This was what I had wanted. This was my path for the past five years, and all of a sudden… it wasn’t me. I stopped taking classes. I said my goodbyes to the department heads and said, “I’m hoping to be back soon,” even though I knew it was the end.
Since then, I’ve been in a rut.
Now… I don’t know who I am. I don’t really know what I want anymore.
We’ve been in San Diego for almost three years now, and day after day I don’t know what I’m doing here. I came to the mainland for better career opportunities, but now, I don’t even know what career I should be headed towards.
To be honest, I’m still searching. I’m still trying to find something about myself that works and can be translated to a career. I’m also trying to find what works in terms of happiness. Is a career everything to me? Or do I just need more money to survive?
I don’t know. As of now, I am in the ruttiest of ruts, but trust that I’m trying to climb out of it.
C and I started talking about marriage a few months into our relationship. We were 18.
It isn’t uncommon for military couples to get married as soon as possible — even if it means at 18 to your high school sweetheart who just got out of basic training.
It happens very, very often.
He asked me to marry him over the phone, when he was in Florida for his MOS school and I was in Hawaii on summer break. I froze and felt my face flush. Was he really asking me this?
“Are you crazy?! It hasn’t even been a year!!!!!!”
“I know, but I already know I want to marry you and I know you want to marry me too. Why not now? It’d make it easier for us to be together physically. I’d get extra pay and we could save up for a big wedding later when you graduate college. Why not? We could do it the next time we’re home together, just sign a paper, I’d be your husband, you’d be my wife…”
It made so much sense. I understood why MilSos did it, I could feel the temptation too.
I said no, though. I felt too young. I wasn’t ready to be a wife, I could barely take care of myself alone in college. I talked to my mom about it and in all her Filipino rage, she told me I better not. She wasn’t on board with me even being with C yet. I would try to talk to her again about it a year later, when she and my dad started to see how well C treated me.
Ever since he asked the question, my mind would flutter back and forth to marrying him the next time I saw him, marrying him after college, or marrying him years and years later. Either way, I knew it was going to happen. I knew he was the one.
Over the next four years together, we talked about getting married all the time. The agreement was that we’d wait until I was done with college to even think about it. We talked about where we’d live, and what we’d name our kids, if he’d help me pay my student loans or support me if I couldn’t find a job after college…we started to set up our future and figure out if things were really meant to be.
Then, I graduated college. I went back to Hawai’i. A month later we were lying in my room at my parent’s house and he said, “What do you think about getting married?”
“You’re home now. We could move out, I’d get money for rent. If I reenlist you would be able to come with me to my next duty station without any issues. We could save up money and have the wedding we always talked about in a few years. What do you think?”
“Oh…oh wow. We could do all that, huh?”
Two weeks later, we got our marriage license. The next day he surprised me with an engagement ring, even though it was unescessary at that point. Two days later, we were married on a beach on base in Kaneohe by an online-ordained Sailor who worked in the shop with him. I bought my dress that morning from Macy’s, he wore his dress blues. We were 22.
We’ve been married for three years now, and it’s been an adventure. He didn’t reenlist, but we chose to move to San Diego to start something new together. We’ve had our ups and downs but I’ve never regretted marrying him at a time where most people our age would still be finding themselves (and trust me, I’ve yet to do that).
People say not to get married young. People even say not to be dating when you’re in college. The only thing that matters in your decision is your own situation. Do your research. Take some time to think about it.
Always remember that marriage is work, but if you’re with someone you truly love, the work won’t be so bad.