365 Days In The Dark

Hello all. This isn’t a post about fashion or a post about how-to’s, good sales, or even lipstick (shocking right?) Today I’m giving you a small insight into my daily life since what happened to me and my family exactly a year ago today. If you’re not interested in reading my sob story then you should probably stop reading now. I feel like I have every right to type out my feelings because that’s why I started this blog in the first place…to escape from some pain and talk about things that make me happy, fashion is my happy… just not today. I’ve had time to think and reflect on the last 365 days and I have a few things to say. So here we go… This isn’t fashionista Karissa, what you’re about to read is the real me. The me that is still in the dark but will soon be in the light. Ernest Hemingway said, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” So that’s exactly what I’m about to do.

“I don’t like the memories because the tears come easily, and once again I break my promise to myself for this day. Its a constant battle. A war between remembering and forgetting.” – Lisa Schroeder 

365 days ago I heard the words no sister ever wants to hear. I heard the words, “Your brother is gone.” They should’ve just stabbed me in the heart because it would’ve hurt a lot less. There were no words. I went numb. I felt the earth shatter beneath my feet. My best friend was gone. My brother was gone. And no matter what I did…he wasn’t coming back. I will never forget that moment. I remember it like it was 2 seconds ago. It’s all still so raw, even a year later. I have to be careful to not step on any land mines that will have me collapse to the ground, literally. These land mines seems to be everywhere I go. Memories of him are hard to dodge. Little did I know that the next 365 days I would have to be in bed most days, I would’ve needed medication, I would have cried myself to sleep, I would have to avoid certain songs on the radio and worst of all I would have to see my mother cry. And little did I know that I wouldn’t be the same. Heartbreak changes you. One thing I’ve learned with my heartbreak is that I will heal on MY OWN time. Not anyone else’s. I understand that people who knew my brother have moved on with their lives, which is fine, they healed at their own pace. But God, let me heal at my own pace too. Don’t tell me that I’m strong because I’m not. Don’t tell me things will get better because they won’t. Don’t tell me anything because you don’t understand what my brother was to me. He was and is my everything. I feel like it gets harder and harder to cope. The longer the time passes, the more I realize he’s not coming back. He’s not coming back.

After that horrible day, I saw him every where. When Wyatt would walk through the door, say hello, or even said I love you… I saw my brothers face every single time. It was devastating. I’ve gotten better at it but I still see him and sometimes hear him but I’m thankful for these moments because they don’t last long. They never will. J.J. likes to visit me in my dreams. One dream I had, he came up to me and said, “Can I just hold you?” And he did.  I swear I would sleep all day if that meant I would see him more.

“There’s an empty place inside my heart where the weeds take root and now I’ll set you free. I’ll set you free.”

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 10.47.38 PMNovember 7th, 1986 at 12:57 am, the world was blessed with my brother, Jesse Jacob Estrada. He weighed 8 pounds and 21 and half inches long. My mom struggled to deliver him. He almost killed them both in the process. He gave my parents a hard time on that special day but I know he spent his whole life making up for that. He was an incredible person. Funny, kind, intelligent, warm, selfless, stylish, handsome and my favorite…an amazing big brother. One thing that sometimes breaks my heart about J.J. was that he was never a materialistic kind of guy. He didn’t own a smart phone, he didn’t own a car for the last years of his life. He didnt have much at all..and that kills me because I wish I could’ve given him the world. He loved the color blue, long walks, mexican food, candy, the ocean, his dog, his little girls, and his family. He loved mornings. He loved dancing. He loved dreaming. Although he definitely had style, he never cared too much about designer things. Towards the end of his journey you would have seen him in a white t-shirt and light washed jeans. Always my favorite look on him. I wish I could’ve spoiled him with everything because he deserved it. But he didn’t want it. I swear some days all he wanted to do was go on a drive with our mom. Those were the things that him happy. I know no one like him nor will I ever. He was something special and someone you can’t easily forget.

“You’re going to lose people in your life and realize that no matter how much time you spent with them or how much you appreciated them and told them so, it will never seem like it was enough.”

My heart stops sometimes when I’m asked how many brothers I have. It’s a question I will never get used to. I always seem to stutter when I say, “I have to two brothers.” That sentence never flows easily for me. I have one sibling now but all my life I’ve had two. It’s life…trust me I get it… but it’s not fair. We shouldn’t have lost J.J…. he had so much more to give to this world. I think the world needs his laughter and his smile. The world seems so dark to me now. I don’t want to be here in a world without my brother. That’s absolutely terrifying to me. My family and I go back and forth between hell and a somewhat tolerable hell. The good days are just okay and the bad days are worse.

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July is a hard month for me. I found out about my brother July 7th and just 20 days later I lost my dog, my other half, Chachi. I lost my two best friends within a month. Not sure how I made it through that, my life has been a blur since last July. My dog was my shoulder to cry on, he was my light and my happiness. You dog owners will understand when I say that he kept me alive. I’m about to get real honest here for a second… but my dog helped me get through many suicide attempts. There. I said it. It is worth noting because writing out the real, raw truth helps me. I’m so grateful for the years I got with him. I hope I made an impact on his little furry life like the way he did to mine. My poor pup was taken away from me way too soon…I still need him. Even a year later, I’m still angry that he died. I will always be angry but more than anything, hurt. Because I feel like God is attacking me. I’ve tried to find someone to blame for all this sadness and heartbreak but there’s no one to blame. I’m angry with God, yes, but I won’t be forever. 

Something beautiful did happen after my Chachi died. I planted a flower bush right where we buried him in my backyard, underneath the window where my room was. Chachi never left my side so I thought it was fitting to bury him there. I left the plant alone for awhile because it was too hard for me to see where I laid my dog to rest but when I did finally go back to that spot, there was one single pink rose that climbed along the house and touched my window. I needed a miracle and I believe I got it. It’s a small miracle but I’ll take what I can get.

I’ve cried on a few shoulders since then and I just want to say thank you. Thank you to the few people that have been there for me since the loss of my brother and my dog.Thank you for allowing me to be selfish for a short moment in time and allowing me to cry/talk/scream/laugh/etc. about my brother. Thank you for the calls, the texts, and the random check ups.  Your love and support has helped me not give up completely. With that said, it hurts my feelings a little bit that some of the people I grew up with and even some family has yet to care about what happened. It’s upsetting to know that all a loved one can do is send a facebook message saying sorry. That’s not right. J.J. deserves better.

This sorrow will soon turn into something beautiful but I’m not quite there yet.  I always tell Wyatt that my brother and my dog took up most of the space in my heart and now that they’re gone I ask myself, “Where will all that love go?” Where will those moments in the day go that I used to spend with them? Nothing seems to be worthy enough anymore. Some days I feel like giving up because in my heart I don’t deserve this life… My brother does.

“I exist in two places. Here and where you are.”

It’s nearly inpossible for me to talk about my brother without losing it completely, but I just want to talk about him all day long. It’s unbelievable how just a scent can take me back to the afternoons I spent with him. How only a song, a restaurant, a room, a shirt, a color, a cloud, a piece of candy, a movie, a blanket, a laugh, a book, a sunrise and sunset can remind me of HIM. I cannot express this enough…Everything I do, everything I say with everything I am… I am thinking of him. I’ve realized, though I know I am loved, I will walk this journey alone. My close loved ones don’t know what to say to soothe me, and they don’t need to say anything because nothing can be said. I’ll walk this journey alone but not alone entirely because guess who’s there with me…. You guessed it…. my brother and of course Chachi.
“My thoughts cannot move and inch without bumping into some piece of you. And I cannot stop myself from constantly falling into you.”-j.a.

I still feel my brothers magic everywhere I go. I always look at the empty seat next to me and I KNOW he’s there with me and I’m absolutely terrified that his magic will fade, along with his voice in my head. I fear the day I’ll look at a picture of J.J. and not cry. I fear I’ll lose a sense of who he was. I fear I’ll forget his laugh or the way he smiled. It’s been 365 days… And I’m still not ready to lose him. 

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“I cannot go to the ocean. I cannot drive the streets at night. I cannot wake up in the morning without you on my mind.”



I love you J. I’ll keep you in the pocket of my ripped jeans. I’ll take you everywhere I go.

9 thoughts on “365 Days In The Dark

  1. Beautiful post, love. You know if you are ever back in town you always have a place to come and just breathe. Bad things happen to good peoople, and you know what? It’s not fair and it is always ok to be upset and heartbroken for as long as you need to be. No two people’s healing time is the same. Your nieces are lucky they have someone like you to look up to.

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  2. Words cannot even express how beautiful I believe this post was. I felt everything you wrote come through. I relate to much of this on a personal level dealing with loss of loved ones. I lost my own best friend – my dog, Troy – about six months ago and understand the pain, anger, and so much more that comes with that. I am with you 100 percent when you say you need to heal on your own time. There are moments where grief just takes over you, but what I’ve found most helpful during those times is to surround yourself with the people that you still have in life and who love you tremendously. Their love will help make the pain subside in the process. We’re hit with the hard fact that this isn’t something we’ll get over, but get used to. But trust me, girl, this will make you stronger. Stronger than you ever can believe. I know it doesn’t seem like that now. I’ve dealt with this as well, but it just takes 20 seconds of believing in yourself everyday to help that move along. You’ve got it in you doll. It took you some bravery and belief in yourself to write these beautiful words. I’m sure your brother J.J. and Chachi would be incredibly proud of you. Keep your head up, love! But also cry when you need to. ❤

  3. Oh, sweet girl, I am so sorry. There are no words to say. I will pray for God to hold you in His loving arms and comfort you as only He can. I am here to listen if ever you need a shoulder to cry on. This so not fair on either count. There are six little furbabies at my house to cry on and hug ready for you to borrow.

  4. wow Karissa, I just lost my brother 4 months ago, and yes, every thing feels like it just happened yesterday. I remember all the convos I had with everyone, who I had to break the news to because my mom couldn’t talk or was in the right state of mind. I remember everyone’s reactions and words, and how I felt. I can replay everything so perfectly. It still doesn’t feel real, and I know it’s still pretty recent for me. My brother was younger than me by 2 years, he was 20, and gosh does it hurt going on knowing he can’t live, or experience everything there is to experience. Although it hurts to talk about him, it also helps me, I guess vent, and it kind of brings me joy to talk about him, I love keeping him alive and in conversations. I lost my brother to a car accident, so it sucks not to say goodbye or any notice. .just surprise and shock. But yes, just like you, many things will remind me of him, and everything just feels like a downward spiral just when you thought you were feeling “okay”. Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy with all the emotions in me, but I get through, it’s nice to know other people know how you feel and have someone to go through the emotions with. This was my first loss, so sometimes I still feel I don’t know how to handle it. But with each day the emotions get a little easier, but nothing will ever be the same. I feel you girl.

    • oh I also forgot to mention, a month after he passed, his dog passed as well, he unfortunately got ran over. Gosh, did I cry all over again, it was as if our only thing left of him got taken too. I look at it though as if he missed his lil’ man and wanted him in heaven with him. It’s funny how things work.

  5. I’ve never read your blog before Karissa and today I decided to. Your such a lovely lady 🙂 I wanted you to know that your blog about your brother is so similar to how I feel about the loss of my brother that it shocked me. I lost my brother in April of 2013. He died in a completely different way and reason but I have struggled with his loss everyday. My brother had cystic fibrosis and I always knew growing up I would live longer but I always prayed he would be there when we got older. He had two lung transplants and the second one was just not successful and about 9 months after it he suddenly became I’ll and passed. Nothing could have prepared me for that, he was my best friend, my other half, and in a sense my soul mate. (I love my husband and he’s a soul mate but anyone close to their siblings understands they are a soul mate too) me and my brother were close, like twins would be, and I miss him every day and agree that it doesn’t get better. I will miss him forever and never get over the loss. Right at a year later I lost my dad in may 2014. This another huge loss. The guys keep coming as my husband was laid off and had to move to Oklahoma to work. I keep hoping each day it will get better but it’s always there and at the drop Of a hat the memories are too. I will pray for you every day as I do your mom. Live your life for J.J. He would want to see you live a full life. He is always with you as my brother is with me. ❤️

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