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A life without my brother

It is strange I find myself here, quite regularly, I read the stories of others. Stories that resonate, that could have been written by me. A sibling, whose only brother is gone, lost to addiction so many years ago. Time seems to have raced on, my children are grown all but one. I find myself here because I know if you are here too, you understand. Not many people do, I have faced so much criticism for still grieving, but if you have lost someone so very special to you, the grieving never really stops. Eventually, you accept that, you have to, there's no choice.

Even after so much time has passed, the grief is in my parent's eyes, it is in the words of my father, it is in the hugs from my cousin, and it is in every tear that rests on my mother's cheek.

It is strange to think that in just a few short years it will be 20 years since my brother Nicholas died. I felt so lost when he passed, I suppose you could say, I have found a way through, unless you know me, then you would know, that I have scars. Horrible painful scars which I know will never truly heal.

It saddens me to think that, my brother who loved my children like his own hasn't been able to share them with me. I find it comforting that my son is his uncle's image. My daughter, my firstborn, remembers snippets, and I do remind her often how special she was to him. He was an amazing uncle, I could never take that away from him. I have another daughter now too, one who knows about him, but never met him. The day she was born, when everyone else was asleep, I held her close and cried, because she will never get to experience the love he gave to my other two children.

He had faults, but who doesn't. He drove me crackers, but I loved him fiercely, I sometimes wish he knew that. We fought like cat and dog, but that didn't mean we didn't have that sibling love I miss so much.

Nicholas was a beautiful soul, kind, compassionate, loving and giving. No matter who came into contact with him, the response was always the same, "he's a lovely lad" and he was a sweet, sweet boy. I do find it odd that I am now so much older than him.

I have done so much to honour him, won awards for the commitment I have to addiction charities. Written a programme that is now used for volunteers in over 60 places. It helped me because I know his life, his death has not been in vain. That every time someone delivers training or uses my book, that it may very well help a family just like mine.

People call me inspirational, but I am not, I am just a sister trying to make a difference. I could not change the outcome for my family, but I hope and pray that It's made a difference to another family.

I miss my brother every day, but his legacy lives on, I've achieved so much because of him, and forever I will be grateful that even though it's painful, I did have the chance to truly understand sibling love. x

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