She called it, “Survivor’s Guilt”

It’s hard to have to go about your days, your life when their lives just…STOPPED.

I’ve had these feelings since my Bubba (my Dad) passed almost five years ago now. That seems so unreal that it’s been that long. I remember holding his hand as he took his last breathes and it felt like an eternity as he fought for every single one he took for that last hour. I stayed by his side for days. He told me he loved me and then he didn’t speak again. He stopped getting up, he stopped eating, he stopped opening his eyes. Six months before all that we were talking on the phone and laughing. I see it like it’s a movie in my head. The camera is angled down hovering above us, rotating side to side. The reel now has added footage, it’s longer. This movie that plays on repeat in my head has added moments of my brothers.

In the recent months I’d been struggling with guilt for feeling happiness. I’ve been doing well in my career and it felt unfair to my brother Adam. He had a drive in him that was powerful. He knew what he wanted to do and he did those things. It was so great to see him succeed. I was always so proud when he achieved new heights. We would celebrate together when we could or cheer together over the phone. I miss his random voicemails to say nothing but “I love you” and “Get it gurl!”.

And Josh, he was doing so well. He was making positive strides and we could all see the man he use to be. The man HE was proud of. I wonder if he was having this “survivor’s guilt”? He had to of felt it. To get clean, to overcome the poison that had destroyed so much of our lives. He wasn’t sharing everything he was feeling but I know he was battling a lot of pain. Pain from the past, pain of the present, pain bubbling up in that rearview mirror. I wish I could have done more, been more. He deserved happiness.

Both of my brothers deserved pure, true happiness. Now I’m afraid of happiness. How can I have it when they couldn’t? How am I suppose to continue on when they can’t? I know how crazy this must sound. I know I should do things for them, because of them, through them but it’s much easier said than done.

I want to continue to succeed because I have to. I still have my two beautiful nieces who mean the world to me. Everything I do is for them. It’s so they can see that you can break the cycle, you don’t have become a product of your environment. I wish I could absorb all their pain, sorrow, anguish, fears. I would hold all that for them if I could. But now I have to try and survive. Survive for my two true loves. My nieces. They are my world. My breath. I want them to be able to look toward me and find strength because that’s what I get from them.

We are the survivors. We will struggle with happiness. We will struggle when we succeed. Apparently, we have “Survivor’s Guilt”.


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