One Year After..

One Year After..

A take on my experience dealing with the death of a sibling. 
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          As a young impressionable girl, you always looked up to your older brother in many different aspects of life. Mostly, learning what you can and can’t get away with. An older brother is someone who gives you Indian burns on your arm until you scream but will take you out for an ice cream date afterward. He will teach you how to ride a dirt bike and take the blame when mom gets mad. An older brother is someone who was born with a main goal of protecting his little sister and loving her more than she could ever know. He teaches his little sister to not take sh*t from anyone and that it’s okay to be stronger than the boys she plays with on the playground; “because if they push, you better push back.” He teaches you to love sports because you grew up watching him play baseball. He prepares his little sister for pain, for the many heartbreaks he knows that she is going to have to live through. Your parents are there to keep you on a straightened arrow but your brother is there to make sure fun can be included in that plan. Unfortunately, what all of these lessons he relayed over the years don’t teach you, is how to live without him. 

It is impossible for others to understand what was going through your mind when you found out. One second you were sitting in your apartment, trying to get your already crazy life together and  then, at the blink of an eye, everything changes. Life as you knew it was broken. Anger, confusion, and sadness suffocate you until you completely black out and just stare, emotionless at the lights going by as you’re traveling down the highway to your childhood home that you shared with your brother who, you now realize is never coming home again.

 “Why did this have to happen?” is the never ending, never answered question that races through your head. I eventually learned you can’t ask why because it will absolutely tear your sanity to shreds. 

When you lose a sibling, you lose a piece of you. The biggest part of your childhood is gone and it’s hard to actually face the fact that you will never get to see this person again, hear their voice that one last time, see their smile again and at this point, you’re begging for one last Indian burn. Only being able to see him in your dreams is this uncontrollable feeling of constantly wondering if he is going to visit you tonight while you’re sleeping. He has become the angel you never knew you needed, until now. 

In your darkest hours is when he will show the most love and protection. 

When you walk down the street, you see someone that reminds you of your brother and for a second there’s a sense of hope that this entire mess was just a bad dream. But, then you must come to terms with the fact that this isn’t a dream, its your new reality. Your new reality will become more real with time and you’ll start to get back into a routine. As one year passes by, you notice your brother in your actions and through your words and that’s kind of scary because you know and can feel that he is smirking at you for making the same dumb mistakes that he did in the past.

Of course you wonder what it would be like to have never lost your big brother. To have never experienced such an immense loss that spins your world upside down. There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t think about him, but there is so much more to him than just his death and what has happened as a result of it. 

When the day that I had to burry my big brother came, I somehow muddled up enough strength and composure to read the poem that got me through his death in front of 2,000 people. The outpouring of love from his friends and my friends who drove over 2 hours to support me on this terrible day will never be forgotten or unappreciated. I didn’t quite know how to act or what to think. No one ever gave me a handbook on “What to do when your brother passes away while you’re in college.” I was given this poem by one of my brothers friends, who lost his older brother as well and this poem is truly is one of the most special things in the world to me. This poem was a light that was meant to lead me to where I am today. I would love to share it. 

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me…

Author: David Romano 

If tomorrow starts without me, and I’m not here to see,

If the sun should rise you find your eyes all filled with tears for me;

I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today,

While thinking of the many things we didn’t get to say.

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you

And each time that you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too.

But when tomorrow starts without me please try to understand,

That an angel came and called my name and took me by the hand.

He said my place was ready, in heaven far above

And that I’d have to leave behind all those I dearly love. 

But as I turned and walked away a tear fell from my eye.

For all my life I’d always thought, I didn’t want to die.

I had so much to live for, so much left yet to do.

It seemed almost impossible that I was leaving you.

I thought of all the yesterdays the good ones and the bad.

I thought of all the love we shared, and all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday, just even for a while,

I’d say goodbye and kiss you and maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized that this could never be,

For emptiness and memories would take the place of me.

When I thought of worldly things I might miss come tomorrow

I thought of you and when I did my heart was filled with sorrow.

When I walked through heavens gates I felt so much at home.

God looked down and smiled at me from his great golden throne

He said, “This is eternity and all I’ve promised you”

Today your life on earth has passed but here life starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow, but today will always last

And since each day is the same there’s no longing for the past.

You have been so faithful so trusting and so true.

Though there were times you did some things you knew you shouldn’t do.

You have been forgiven and now at last you’re free.

So won’t you come and take my hand and share my life with me?

So when tomorrow starts with out me don’t think we’re far apart,

For every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart.

If my brother never passed away, I’d probably still just be a girl selfishly enjoying college and making mistakes without a care in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I still do those things, but my outlook on the world has definitely changed. 

This whole situation as a whole sucks but it just forces you to become a stronger person. You become a different person after the death of your sibling and are eager to live life in honor of them. You’re eager to do things that you have never done before because you know you have an angel looking out for you. You become brave because your older brother embodied that characteristic. You become obsessed with bettering yourself because you now have a bigger reason to live.

Now, one year later, you live every single day to the fullest since you really don’t know when your last could be. Valuing relationships you never thought you needed to take a second to be thankful for, being closer with your parents because you aren’t the only one who lost part of your life, and cherishing life in a different light are just a few of the many things that this whole experience encouraged me to do. You really find the simple things in life that are often overlooked and appreciate its presence in the world. 

I hope anyone going through anything similar can read this and have hope that it will get better. Yes, there will be days that you want to scream but the better days, where he shows you that he’s with you are worth it. Im forever grateful for the twenty five years I was able to spend with him, even though it doesn’t seem like its enough time. We beg for more time and thats something that we always cant salvage.

 Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me and thank you for the strength you have given me, My sweet angel. I live everyday for you. 

I’ll always love you Dylan. Xoxo. 

Gracie, your little sister. 

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31 Reasons Why I Would NEVER Watch Season 2 Of '13 Reasons Why'

It does not effectively address mental illness, which is a major factor in suicide.
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When I first started watching "13 Reasons Why" I was excited. I had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for a long time and thought this show would be bringing light to those issues. Instead, it triggered my feelings that I had suppressed.

With season two coming out soon, I have made up my mind that I am NEVER watching it, and here is why:

1. This show simplifies suicide as being a result of bullying, sexual assault, etc. when the issue is extremely more complex.

2. It does not effectively address mental illness, which is a major factor in suicide.

3. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention has guidelines on how to portray suicides in TV shows and movies without causing more suicides.

"13 Reasons Why" disregarded those guidelines by graphically showing Hannah slitting her wrists.

4. It is triggering to those who have tried to commit suicide in the past or that struggle with mental illness.

5. It glorifies suicide.

6. It does not offer healthy coping solutions with trauma and bullying.

The only "solution" offered is suicide, which as mentioned above, is glorified by the show.

7. This show portrays Hannah as dramatic and attention-seeking, which creates the stereotype that people with suicidal thoughts are dramatic and seeking attention.

8. Hannah makes Clay and other people feel guilty for her death, which is inconsiderate and rude and NOT something most people who commit suicide would actually do.

9. This show treats suicide as revenge.

In reality, suicide is the feeling of hopelessness and depression, and it's a personal decision.

10. Hannah blames everyone but herself for her death, but suicide is a choice made by people who commit it.

Yes, sexual assault and bullying can be a factor in suicidal thoughts, but committing suicide is completely in the hands of the individual.

11. Skye justifies self-harm by saying, "It's what you do instead of killing yourself."

12. Hannah's school counselor disregards the clear signs of her being suicidal, which is against the law and not something any professional would do.

13. The show is not realistic.

14. To be honest, I didn't even enjoy the acting.

15. The characters are underdeveloped.

16. "13 Reasons Why" alludes that Clay's love could have saved Hannah, which is also unrealistic.

17. There are unnecessary plot lines that don't even advance the main plot.

18. No one in the show deals with their problems.

They all push them off onto other people (which, by the way, is NOT HEALTHY!!!).

19. There is not at any point in the show encouragement that life after high school is better.

20. I find the show offensive to not only me, but also to everyone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts.

21. The show is gory and violent, and I don't like that kind of thing.

22. By watching the show, you basically get a step-by-step guide on how to commit suicide.

Which, again, is against guidelines set by The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

23. The show offers no resources for those who have similar issues to Hannah.

24. It is not healthy for me or anyone else to watch "13 Reasons Why."

25. Not only does the show glorify suicide, but it also glorifies self-harm as an alternative to suicide.

26. Other characters don't help Hannah when she reaches out to them, which could discourage viewers from reaching out.

27. Hannah doesn't leave a tape for her parents, and even though the tapes were mostly bad, I still think the show's writers should have included a goodbye to her parents.

28. It simplifies suicide.

29. The show is tactless, in my opinion.

30. I feel like the show writers did not do any research on the topic of suicide or mental illness, and "13 Reasons Why" suffered because of lack of research.

31. I will not be watching season two mostly because I am bitter about the tastelessness.

And I do not want there to be enough views for them to make a season three and impact even more people in a negative way.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Cover Image Credit: Netflix

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7 Reasons To Get Excited For The Orlando Fringe Festival

Aside from the obvious draw of 100+ shows to choose from, there are so many more reasons to check it out.
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The Orlando Fringe Festival is a two-week performing arts extravaganza featuring all kinds of acts from this city and others. It is also the longest-running theater festival in the United States, so it’s had plenty of time to get great. If you want the basics on how to attend, there is an article in the Orlando Sentinel that breaks it down for first-timers. But as we gear up for what is basically Coachella for theater nerds, here are just a few more things to get jazzed about.

1. You’ll finally be able to support your artist friends.

We all have that friend who is constantly involved in some sort of production. Of course you’d love to go and see them all, but who has the time? At Fringe, there are plenty of chances to see a show, since there are performances at many different times for two weeks. And if you have a lot of friends who are performers in Orlando, then I have good news! They will all be in the same place.

2. Two words: food trucks.

There is pretty much no other time when it is socially acceptable to eat a bunch of fried Oreos than at a carnival or at Fringe. Carnivals seem dangerous though, so you might as well just hang out at Fringe, where it’s safe.

3. There’s something for everyone.

Even if theater isn’t your thing, there are more than just a few alternative options available. You can also find concerts, stand up comedy, storytelling, and a whole lot of things that will make you say, “I didn’t know that was a thing."

4. This year, planning is easy.

In their 27th year, the Orlando Fringe has introduced a new way to plan which shows to see. The Fringe-o-Matic allows you to input the shows you’re interested in and create a personalized schedule so you can make it to (almost) all of them.

5. You’ll never have to travel far.

Most of the shows at Fringe are located in or around Loch Haven Park, and venues include the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, the Orlando Repertory Theatre and the Orlando Museum of Art. These are all within walking distance of each other, and are separated only by a parking lot (which, by the way, is free to use). The only other shows are BYOV, or Bring Your Own Venue, in multiple locations in Orlando.

6. It’s not just local acts.

Maybe if you’re an Orlando native, you’re a little tired of the local scene. This festival includes production companies from lots of other states and countries, so it’s a great opportunity to see fresh faces and shows that are the best of their respective locale.

7. Things will get weird.

Even if you’re a veteran Fringe-goer, you’re definitely in for a quite a few surprises. Last year, I saw a Canadian male burlesque troupe led by a Justin Trudeau impersonator (caution: link NSFW), and it wasn’t even the craziest thing that happened.


The Orlando Fringe Festival runs from May 15th to the 28th, so it’s right around the corner. It’s all happening so fast! But if you’re not hyped yet, maybe you should take a trip to the beer tent.

Cover Image Credit: Orlando Fringe

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