32 years ago my baby brother Tyler died.
Although I never met him in life, he has touched my life and changed me for the better. WhenI was 15 years old, my brother was stillborn because the cord wrapped around his neck. My mom lost so much blood, her body kept shutting down. The paramedics had to give her several blood transfusions and keep restarting her heart. When they got her to the hospital, they put her in intensive care. She was in a coma for several weeks, and they weren't sure if she would make it.
Being the oldest, I did my best to take care of my brothers and sisters, but I was a poor imitation of my mom. One day a relative I didn't know called and said, I just heard your mom died. I am so sorry." The caller was wrong, but I hadn't been able to see her yet, so I didn't know if she was going to die. Every time the phone rang after that, I would shake uncontrollably.
The funeral for my brother was one of the hardest days of my life. When my mom told us she was pregnant, I was angry. I didn't want to take care of another brother or sister. I even wished the baby would die so my life could get back to normal. Now all I wanted to do was tell my mom and my brother how sorry I was that I had been so selfish. My mom was still in the coma, so she couldn't go to the funeral. Relatives kept telling me how much I looked like my mom and how proud she would be of me. They didn't know how guilty I felt thinking everything was my fault.
Weeks later I finally got to go to the hospital to see my mom. I still didn't know she was in a coma, so I was hoping to tell her what I had done and ask her forgiveness. My mom's room was in the back of the ICU, so we had to walk through another room to get to her. A man in the first room was strapped to his bed. As I walked by, he said, "Please, little girl, come and untie me. Please help me!" I knew that would make things worse for him, but I felt miserable ignoring him and walking away. My mom wasn't strapped to her bed, but her arms were tied to the railing so she wouldn't pull out the IV or respirator tubes. She wasn't conscious, so I couldn't tell her what I wanted to say. Seeing my mom in so much pain made me feel even guiltier.
When my mom finally got well enough to come home, I was in a deep depression. I couldn't stop thinking about death and suicide. I stopped going to school because I was afraid my mom would die while I was gone and couldn't keep her safe. I was in trouble at home for always sluffing school. I couldn't sleep and when I did sleep, I had nightmares. I felt guilty for wanting to do things with my friends when I should be taking care of my mom.
That spring, we went to California. When we went to the beach, I walked down the pier and stared at the waves for a long time trying to decide whether to jump or not. The water was beautiful and calling to me. While I was standing there, I heard a voice. I turned, but no was there. I turned back to the water, but I heard the voice again. This time it said, "What would it feel like to kill yourself and then find out your soul mate was still on Earth waiting for you?" I turned, and no one was there, but a perfect white feather drifted out of the sky. A sign from my guardian angel. I walked back to my family hoping things would get better if I kept my faith and tried my best.
It turned out my guardian angel was right. Today I am blessed to be able to help others through their darkness. It is my way to pay forward my angel's gift of life. Today I celebrate my brother and the lessons he has taught me about myself, life, forgiveness, and redemption. I wouldn't be the person I am today without him. Even though we never met, he still touches my life every day. I can't wait to see him in Heaven and thank him in person someday. Happy Birthday, Tyler. I love you.