Death is hard. Dealing with an unexpected death is GUT wrenching, soul crushing, honestly the worst kind of hurt in the world. I never thought at 25 that I would have to bury my 33-year-old brother. Rudy was our rock, our planner, our movie guru. Rudy was the heart of our family; being the eldest of four, he took on the role of second dad in charge of the three of us.
I went to bed on December 29, 2016 thinking I was going to have a long fun weekend ringing in the new year with my family. Tragically, that was not the case, and life as I knew it was about to change forever, whether I was ready for it or not.
It has been three years since we lost Rudy, and it has been a hard three years grieving Rudy and dealing with life. It feels like Rudy’s death set the wheels in motion for anything that could go wrong for us as a family. We lost Rudy, now what? What do we do? We have to plan and pay for a funeral we were not expecting at all … How do we plan it? What were his wishes? He was 33 years old; you don’t think you’re going to die at 33. Who even thinks about their own funeral? NOW, I do. I often text close friends and family when I think about something I want for my own funeral. I wish I would have had those conversations with Rudy.
Planning Rudy’s funeral was hard. Sitting there watching them fill out the day of death — I will never forget that. My mom telling me to leave the room if I felt like I was going to cry because I needed to be strong for Jen, Rudy’s wife. I’m sitting there trying my best, but I can’t help but feel so upset because my very fresh and raw feelings were pushed aside. I had to be strong for my parents, for Jen, for Zyla (Andy’s daughter, Rudy’s goddaughter), for Ashley and Andy (my siblings; they were in the same boat I was) but I couldn’t help but think, what about me? Who is going to be strong for me when I can’t hold it together? Who do I get to cry too? When do I get to fall apart?
About a year and a half after Rudy passed, my other brother had a massive heart attack, and we almost lost him in September 2018. We were in the hospital for about a month of uncertainty; all I could do was talk to Rudy and ask him to please save Andy. I couldn’t lose him, too.
Flash forward to June 2019, my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Dealing with all of this, I couldn’t help but be so angry that Rudy wasn’t here to feel everything we are feeling and dealing with. It’s just not fair he left us. Life is so heavy now. And all the bumps in the road have not been bumps, they feel like mountains. Then I feel silly. It wasn’t his choice to leave us.
Having Rudy die at the hands of someone else is something I struggle with. He didn’t just die, someone killed him. “Accident” or not, he was killed, and it will never sit right with me. I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about the person who killed Rudy, but I’m trying my best to not let him have that power over me and just focus on all the love and kindness Rudy ever showed me. It’s just going to take time, but I’ll get there eventually.