This is Avery, Pierce’s older sister. I’ve been trying to put into words what it’s like not having Pierce here anymore…and it has been hard for me. I have been trying to keep myself busy because..some days, it’s hard enough just waking up and going about a “normal” day. Somehow, I seem to think that by filling my day with things to do, it keeps it from becoming too quiet, because it’s when it’s quiet that I think about you, Pierce. Or really, I think about you even when it’s not quiet.
I think about you when I go for walks in my neighborhood; you always used to honk at me as you drove by on your way to the gym or work. I always hold my breath and feel like I’m being punched in the gut when I near the crossstreets where you last honked at me, on the morning of the day you died, December 29th. I usually cry when I see that I am nearing that spot. I meant to call you or text you right after that happened and ask what you were doing like I usually did, but for whatever reason, that day, I didn’t.
I think about you when I see FedEx trucks, which is every day. I see them everywhere. On the interstate, in parking lots, at redlights. Some of those times that you would honk at me, you were working during the pre-Christmas rush, driving one of the FedEx vans and you would wave at me.
I think about you when I go to the gym. You were always at the gym. In the days after, I remember getting on a treadmill and just watching my feet go forward. Wondering why everything just kept going. Today I felt overwhelmed by the dozens of TVs, playing commercials and talk shows and political news—all of it, just a bunch of pointless noise. I can’t help but look at the people around me there sometimes and feel so alone. A world full of living people. When I go to the cemetery, everyone there is dead…and I’m somewhere in between the living and the dead.
I’ve felt loss before, even around the same time of year—near Christmas, 10 years ago, but this is a different kind of loss. You were my brother. We were connected.
I remember that night, I was home, watching The Office with my husband. We weren’t told until nearly 3 hours later that you had been killed. Something about them “reconstructing the scene”. I was the first person to the hospital. My husband parked our car and I stood with a fire chief until Tim got back and my mom arrived. I don’t even remember us walking down the hallway, but we ended up in a room where a doctor was just…looking at us.
And there you were, Pierce. If I hadn’t known any better, I would have thought you were just sleeping. How could this be possible?
You were laying on a cold, metal table. You were wearing one of your favorite shirts and you had a tube coming out of your mouth. You still had grass in your hair from where you had been dragged out of what was left of your car and to the side of Chapman Highway. The doctor told us what your cause of death had been. I just remember touching your forehead; I had never seen you be so still in my entire life.
It was later that night that we learned that the man who caused your wreck was here in this country illegally. And that he didn’t once leave his car to try and help you or see if you were okay.
It was around that time that I had to call your best friend, Kashyap, who you used to play basketball with on the court in our backyard. I had to tell him that you didn’t make it. And over the next several minutes, all your friends showed up and had to see your lifeless body…all because of a man who didn’t take personal responsibility seriously. I had to pull the sheet back from your face, Pierce, and show your friends that their lives would never be the same again.
That none of our lives would ever be the same again.
Now, on an almost daily basis, I get called a “racist” by people who can never understand the pain my family has been through and who don’t know a thing about my personal character. People who focus on the lawbreakers themselves and not the laws being broken.
Now, I avoid a certain stretch of road.
Now, when people ask me how I’m doing, I don’t know how to answer, but if I don’t feel like saying, “I’m good.”, I don’t.
Now, when my family goes out to eat, we have to ask for a table for 7 instead of 8.
I can’t even pinpoint all of the things that have changed because there are so many. Things I slowly realize each day and probably will continue to for years to come, the rest of my life.
We will never have another Christmas or birthday with you, Pierce. Never go on another vacation with you. Never help you move into the house you were looking at buying before all of this happened.
I look at pictures of you as a baby because I love seeing your smile, but it also makes me so sad. You are frozen in time. You were so innocent.
Lately, I’ve found myself watching movies and it goes something like this:
This movie came out in 2004. I remember us seeing it in theaters, we were really excited about it and dad got us all out of school early. I was a freshman in high school, so you would have been in elementary school. Did I share my popcorn with you? Was I nice to you that day? I remember being so excited about that movie…but now I wish I hadn’t spent that 2 hours watching it and instead, I had just hung out with you, Pierce. Really hung out and just not been distracted.
I think back on times in our past and wonder why I didn’t appreciate them more and really just…be in the moment. I wish I could go back to when there were three of us: me, Connor and you, Pierce.
You helped Connor and I move into our houses and out of apartments. We never got the chance to help you do something like that. Never got to be in your wedding.
I kind of hate meeting new people now. The “me” that people meet is confusing and I am confused about what to tell them about her. Hi, my name is Avery. I’m…?
Do I tell them about you and what has happened? Or do I pretend that everything is just great? It’s nice when people just know what has happened and offer their condolences; it takes out a lot of the guesswork on my end. Because the only thing more sad than talking about you is not talking about you, Pierce. I don’t like pretending that things are “normal” for people I don’t even know. I don’t see the point in that.
It’s kind of exhausting having these thoughts all the time.
I miss you so much, Pierce.💔
I remember the day of your funeral, we followed you in a hearse to the cemetery. Connor was in the car behind us and I couldn’t help but think…I was in the middle. Pierce, Avery and Connor. That’s how we had always posed for pictures too, with me in the middle.
Mom and dad had to pick out the suit you wore and your casket when they should have been helping you pick out things for a house.
I know you are in a better place now. You are in heaven, but it doesn’t make any of this any easier.
I love you, Pierce.❤️