Seventeen years ago, the world felt like a safer place, before social media and rampant school shootings. My brother was shot in the heart by a man we’d only just met that night, in his own home, over a bong and some CDs. It was the most senseless act, and it completely turned our entire worlds upside down. I was also there, and it was the most horrible thing you could ever imagine. But as a family we somehow survived — not easily.
Today we have built lives that may look beautiful on the outside, but the pain is always there. The trauma and loss made us stronger, gave us a reason to fight and make him proud. I think of my brother almost every day. Seventeen years later, while I can write it and have learned to be better about sharing my story on social media, I still cannot utter the words. I’m still unable to tell a stranger, or even a new friend, that my brother was murdered or shot or killed. The words never come out, and all I can ever manage is “I lost a brother when I was younger.” I don’t think that will ever change.