{Guest Blog} Losing My Brother…..Discovering His Best Friend

Guest Blog

Charlie is an Associate Attorney at a firm in NYC and was the twin brother to my Best friend Connor. I really did not know Charlie before Connor’s death, as he was always in NYC working. Connors Death brought pain into our lives and out of that pain a friendship was born.
I am so thankful that he has shared his journey of grief with me and with of course you. Sometimes when we write about our grief it helps us to heal. Restores our soul and makes us whole again. {Because of Charlie’s work his photo nor his last name will appear on the blog}

Most of you know me as that guy who hijacks AJ’s twitter feed on nights that she’s fallen a sleep on my couch. I usually tell you funny things about her and most importantly what she is muttering in her sleep. Often people ask how do I get her password. Its simple really, AJ is capable of carrying on a conversation in her sleep. If you ask her a question she will reply. So getting her phones password is an easy task. AJ is actually sleeping on my couch next to me as I write this. She is currently muttering about Ninjas, Alligator wrestling, and strangely oysters. Oyster is a new one for her, ninjas are a regular sleep conversation occurrence.

Connor was one of AJs Ninja BFFs and my twin brother. Connor and I are not your average identical twins. We were mirror twins meaning that we were exactly a like. The only way you could tell us apart is by knowing that my voice is lower than Connor’s. Or by looking at the bottom of our feet. I have a blue star tattooed on the bottom of my foot and Connor has a yellow star. The Drs tattooed the bottom of our feet so they could tell us apart. Even thou we looked exactly a like we were two very different people.

My brother struggled with depression for most of his life. Depression was a hush-hush word in our house. Partly I think my mother felt like a failure because her son had the best of everything, yet was never happy. I remember nights that she would just yell at him and ask him to be normal. Her answer to solving the problem was sending him away for school. Conor always wanted to be a doctor. He was at his best when he was standing at the bedside of a patient.

Patients are what lead him to Duluth Minnesota in the first place. We all thought Connor had lost it when he broke the news that he took a job in northern Minnesota. He asked me to come with. I told him no because I had just accepted an associate position here in NYC. He told me “suit yourself kid. I’m going.”

An go he did. Connor loved the North shore and the home he rented on park point. That fall would bring change to his life. Up until this point he had been in relationships, but his depression always created a wedge. When Connor woke up you never knew who you were going to get. It was either happy Connor or sad dark Connor. Most days it was the happy Connor.

I’ll never forget the day he called me. I was sitting in my office working on my first case and he said to me “Charlie I met the one. I met the girl I am going to marry, she doesn’t know it yet thou.” I almost fell out of my chair and asked well who is she. All he said to me was “Charlie, she is amazing! young and amazing!” That summer he brought his amazing to the Hamptons. Turns out his amazing had a name, two first names actually.

That was the day AmandaJean walked into the hearts of my family. Connor looked really good and for the first time in his life uttered the words “I am happy.” I am happy, I can count on two hands the number of times my brother actually said he was happy. Happiness is something AmandaJean gave to him and that is something no one can take away from him. Connor never did marry AJ, she married someone else. After her engagement was announced he moved back to NYC and began to fall into the darkness of depression.

My brother didn’t even go to her wedding. He was so angry at her. Mostly I think he was angry because he had missed his chance. His chance at marrying the best thing to ever happen to him. A year went by before they spoke again. Connor looked at me with fear in his eyes. “I got a text from AJs husband. She’s in the hospital and it doesn’t look good. What should I do.” Looking at my brother I said, get on a fucking plane Connor. Go to her, if she dies you will regret it. He was on the next flight. AJ’s almost death was the rebirth of their friendship.

That summer AJ as you know divorced her husband and my brother finally got the second chance he wanted. However Connor did something that still confuses us to this day. He finally got the chance he longed for, yet took his own life. I was so angry at AJ, angry because she didn’t get on that plane like he had asked her to do. In my eyes she abandoned my brother, my best friend in his darkest hour. She was the only one that could get through to him. The only one.

The day after Connors funeral I dropped her off at the airport. I was so angry at her that I told her, I hate you. I hate you for deserting my brother. This, this is your fault. You could have saved him. She just looked back at me with those loving blue eyes, hugged me and whispered “Charlie, I understand you are angry, I understand you are mad at me. You can’t stay angry for ever. I’ll be here for you when your ready.” With that said she walked through to security and I never saw her again.

As fate would have it the firm I work for in NYC does alot of work in Minneapolis. Often I would dial her number, but never hit call. In November my Mom told me that I should see AJ. That I should sit down apologize to her and talk with her. My mom said, “Charlie, she was your brothers amazing, give her a chance hun.” I sent AJ an email letting her know I was coming to town and that I wanted to see her. She offered to pick me up at the airport the next day.

There she was in her purple trench coat sitting in the baggage claim. Her loving blue eyes met mine. She stood up threw her arms around me and held me tight. In that moment I realized how hard this was for her. Me being an exact copy of Connor had to be like seeing a dead man walking. She pulled away, grabbed my hand and said Lets get your bags hun and get out of here a storms coming in.

I’ll never forget that night. The snow fell softly against the night sky and there she was not an angry bone in her body smiling back at me. I got settled in my condo and that’s when it hit me. AJ was standing in the kitchen, I put my hands on the counter and just bawled. I looked at her and said “I am so sorry I blamed you for Connor’s death. I don’t really hate you. I don’t. I understand if you hate me.” AJ looked back at me her blue eyes filled with tears. Oh Charlie, I don’t hate you babes. God no, I knew you were hurting that day you uttered those words. So there we sat in my kitchen bawling like little girls. That day a new friendship was born.

Sometimes I catch her looking at me with tears in her eyes. She often tells me, you have no idea how hard it is to be your friend. Not everyone has a mirror twin out there, so when I look at you, its like Connors back. I just look at her and smile. Sometimes when she’s over tired she will call me Connor. I never correct her. I just let it slip.

Over the past few months I have gotten to know my brothers amazing. My brothers amazing is now my best friend. I have stood by her as she battled cancer and held her tight on the nights she actually wondered “why me.” Those nights led to a lot of contemplation, especially after she found out that having children wasn’t in the cards. Even on her weakest days she got up, got dressed, and went out to change the world. I’d tell her to rest and she’d say “Charlie no one ever changed the world by standing still.”

Standing still is something she rarely does. My brother was right. AmandaJean is amazing. She truly is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. If you have met her in real life count yourself lucky, because not many people get to stand next to amazing. She will give until she has nothing left, she will stand until her knees are weak, and she will not rest until every voice is heard. AmandaJean is a true advocate. A true paralegal, and mostly one hell of a lobbyist.

I lost my brother. But in that loss I gained my best friend. A woman that will never cease to amaze me. AmandaJean is one hell of a catch and she is completely available. Supplies are limited so hurry in and of course there isn’t a warranty. (She is so going to punch me after reading this paragraph!) I’ll never understand why my brother took his life. One thing I know is that a curly-haired girl will miss him for the rest of her life and in me she found a new best friend.

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