Mourning My Only Brother... And then Learning I Had Another All Along
I spent almost a decade learning to be an 'only' after Matthew died. The un-learning is almost as disorienting.
Illustration by Harry Woodgate | Edited by Lilly Dancyger
On a September night in 2016, I stayed up late, scouring my email and social media accounts for distractions: upcoming events, good news I'd overlooked, an acceptance of some sort lurking in my spam. One month earlier, I'd announced the sale of my first book – a coming-of-age memoir about the suicide of my only brother, Matthew, told through the series of cars my family and I drove.
I’d worked on this book for years. I’d written through grief, divorce, depression, and solo parenting two small children. At times, I’d fall into an episode of despair and self-doubt. Who was I to tell my brother’s story? Just me. Matthew Stephenson’s kid-sister. Missy, he’d called me.
When the book sold, a feeling I didn’t expect overcame me: grief, and fear, over letting go of my brother’s story. When he was alive, we had a relationship, as siblings, that only the two of us understood. He was my brother, my closest DNA match in the universe, and I co…