When the Mirror Breaks

Originally published in June 2013.

When the Mirror Breaks“Siblings are the only relatives, and perhaps the only people you’ll ever know, who are with you through the entire arc of your life…Your parents leave you too soon and your kids and spouse come along late, but your siblings know you when you are in your most inchoate form.”

– writer Jeffrey Kluger observed to Salon in 2011, the year his book “The Sibling Effect” was published.

My brother Andy was more than a sibling, he was my twin.  We weren’t really twins; we were just close in age and physically favored each other including, despite the 2.5 year age difference, being the same height.

We always played together and were constantly told stories of how we immediately bonded from the moment I was born.

Being younger than him, I never knew life without him.  He was my first friend and best friend.  We were affectionately called “the matching pair” by our family.

Although we had two other siblings (I’m one of four), my entire identity was a reflection of my life with him.  Our world was rich with creativity in every way.  As children, we spent most of our time playing with toys; coming up with different scenarios and personalities for each (which changed frequently.)

As we got older, this world of “make believe” manifested in the form of music, theater, print and digital media, etc.  Andy was publicly seen as quiet but behind closed doors he could put on quite a show and is still the funniest person I have ever met.

He was sensitive and had respect for all things, living and inanimate.  If one us were to toss aside a stuffed animal, he’d immediately run over, cradle it, and say we had hurt its feelings. This kind of behavior really made our toys come to life.

I was 24 when my brother passed away instantly in a car accident.  This is an untouchable age where nothing bad could possibly happen.  The world exists to serve you and you’ll worry about responsibility “later.”  I was unbreakable; we were unbreakable.

When Andy died, I shattered.  From that moment on, nothing would ever be the same.  The word no longer served me.  It was against me and it took from me.  I was immediately broken and couldn’t see myself; I had lost the pieces of me.

For those of us who have lost a loved one, attempting to put together the shattered glass of our lives is beyond tedious; it’s nearly impossible.  It is such a struggle that many people get tired after a few initial attempts and give up.  This is because here is no easy way around it.

The only way to get it done is to work through it piece by piece.   First, you have to locate all the pieces and get them organized into one pile.  Then you start with one piece and sift through the entire pile until you find its adjacent piece; and repeat.

As you continue this process, it starts to take less time to sift through the remaining pieces and find where it fits.  Eventually, there are only a few left and you’re putting them together quickly and with ease.

It took over three years for me to collect all my pieces into a pile and remember who I used to be.  The first year after a loss is particularly emotional because you are experiencing everything, such as holidays and gatherings, for the first time without that person.  The following year serves as reminder of this new reality.

Then, even though it’s hard and you don’t always want to, you accept it.  During this time, I thought about what I used to like to do and had to make myself try them again.  Activities that used to feel second-nature like exercise (running, biking, rowing) and playing piano now felt awkward and forced.   It’s really hard to not be good at something that you used excel in.

This is where the hard work comes in and you have to make a commitment to yourself that you won’t quit; you must rejoin the living.  At this point, it is more about your mental state than whatever task or activity you are performing.

They say that when a mirror breaks, the penalty is to endure seven years of bad luck.  This June will mark seven years since Andy’s death.  The process of working through collecting the pieces gave me strength to start living again.  My pieces have been found and I am swiftly completing the mirror that once was shared by my brother.

The new face has cracks but it is fixed and I am whole in it.  The reflection shows a happy person who participates in many activities and loves living life again.

Our thanks to guest author Daisy Kate Massey for sharing her story with us.

Photo credit

State Farm - Celebrate My DriveComfort Zone Camp and State Farm have partnered to promote Celebrate My Drive®, a community celebration of safe driving habits. Celebrate My Drive® emphasizes the positives of safe choices behind the wheel, as teens celebrate the freedom that comes with the rite of passage of getting a drivers’ license. The articles featured on Hello Grief in support of Celebrate My Drive® provide those who have experienced a loss due to auto accident with the opportunity to share their story and reinforce the importance of making safe choices each and every time you get behind the wheel of a car. To learn more about Celebrate My Drive®, visit www.celebratemydrive.com or teendriving.statefarm.com.

13 Comments:

  1. Chris Henry said on June 25, 2013 at 3:06 pm ... #

    Daisy, that was beautiful. I can’t believe its been 7 years. I think about Andy and you guys often and all the good times. There were nothing but good times with him. I consider myself lucky to have known him and to have been his friend.

  2. Lisa Ratnavira said on June 25, 2013 at 3:43 pm ... #

    powerful metaphor thank you

  3. Anonymous said on June 25, 2013 at 5:32 pm ... #

    Beautiful. Well said, it is so hard to get used to life without your sibling. I lost my only brother 5 yrs ago, and even though it does get easier, nothing has been the same since that horrible day he was murdered. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. katie young said on June 25, 2013 at 6:21 pm ... #

    That’s beautiful Daisy.

  5. Janet Macy said on June 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm ... #

    Excellent. I’ve sent this on to my daughter. Her brother (my son) died when she was 11. They were constant companions. We only had 2 children – so this left her “an only child”.

  6. Sharon Renner said on July 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm ... #

    Thank you for sharing. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news about Andy. I wept. I wept for your family and mine. Andy always smiling and a kind word to say. Didn’t realize it has been 7 years. Love the Massey family. We will always feel the lost of those we have loved deeply, but we are blessed to have others whom we love deeply and it is with them we are able to hold each other up and not feel alone. Enjoy Willie G’s wedding, hard to believe! Love to you all!

  7. Michelle Taylor said on July 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm ... #

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, Daisy. So beautifully written.

  8. Elizabeth Taylor said on July 21, 2013 at 6:39 pm ... #

    Daisy, what an amazing writer you are. I’ll always remember Andy as that sweet little boy with a shy smile. Although we didn’t get to see each other much, I do remember noticing the special bond you had. Thank you for sharing your story.

  9. Riki Haukaas said on November 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm ... #

    Thank you for this. You put into words so much of what I felt after loosing my older brother 7 years ago. he was 1 1/2 years older so he had always been there my entire life. I know I spent more time with him than even my parents…It’s hard to express the sibling relationship sometimes…thank you again!

  10. Angela Haudenschild said on November 23, 2013 at 8:41 pm ... #

    My brother passed on 11-11-12. Its been just over a year since he was taken from us. FF Mark Haudenschild II (26 yrs old) and I were just over a year apart even tho all together there were 6 siblings. I cant believe how hard this year has been. On 11-11-13 I was sitting in a tattoo shop getting the forearm tattoo that I have wanted since the day he was taken. Some how it has made me feel a lot better, like a weight was lifted off of me. But we all grieve in our own way, my first real attempt to moarn him has been very helpful. I hope that we can all be headed on a road to healing in our own way and time.

  11. Mark said on December 3, 2013 at 9:44 pm ... #

    Ms Daisy I’m Mark . Thank you for sharing your story for me and many others. I just lost my big brother in a car wreck on Oct 7, 2013. I’m 52 he was 58. We were very close worked together played together laughed together cried together. Trying to wrap my mind around it and having a tough time of it. I know we are older but that sibling bond just gets stronger . I loved him greatly and connected with your letter very closely. . . Just trying to find my way through his loss.His name was Sandy Clyde . We called him Sandman. Thanks for letting me share my brothers loss with you and I’m sorry for your loss of your brother Andy. Sincerely ,Mark in Mississippi

  12. Erin said on April 15, 2014 at 2:47 pm ... #

    Thank you for sharing your story. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first starting reading it, I felt like your words came right out of my heart. My brother, who was just 19 months younger, and I always called ourselves twins too, because we often seemed to know what the other one was thinking. Just like you and your brother, we were often the same height, and people often thought we were twins. We also were best friends and shared so many friends. Here’s the most ironic part, my brother’s name is also Andy! He passed instantly in a hunting accident on Dec. 28, 2000, he was 22 year old, I was 23. It’s been over 13 years, but it feels like 75 years since I’ve heard his voice or seen his smile. I can relate to everything in your article, I like the part about the mirror. I wish you all the best as you travel through life without Andy. The years go by fast, but you never stop missing your “twin”.

  13. Charlotte said on May 27, 2014 at 4:27 am ... #

    I was 19 when my sister who was 21 died instantly in a car accident. Its been 4 and half years and I still.dont feel like my life is getting remotely near to how I want it to be. I hope one day I can, but the grief for me is so over powering that it takes over me. Thank you for sharing your story with me.. xx

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