It has been over a month since I lost my best friend and Brother. His name was and is Jake Gregory Wendling. Much of who he was as a man is someone that came to be while I was gone, out exploring the world. But even as we were apart for those years there was a bond, a closeness to us that I could sense his growing. I was always so proud of him. When he started working out and getting bigger and stronger, I was impressed. I didn't show him how much though, and I now wish that I had. When he got sober, I was so thankful and happy. He was always my hero and I was his big brother. At times I took that role too far, and I babied him. He may have not have always understood why I treated him so, but it was because he was so precious. As I have said, he is the only man I've ever wanted to be more like. He was none of the things that I have always been. he was slow to anger, not vengeful, easy to laugh and smile, he would gladly show his love for all of God's children and creations. He was not perfect, but he was a wonderful kind and truly loving person. When he left this world a great vacuum opened up in my soul. A great emptiness that has left me without purpose or direction, without desire or happiness. Where once there was the greatest love for my Brother and knowledge that my best friend would always be there, there is now just numbing sadness.
It's hard for the other people in my life to understand this, and for that I am so sorry. So sorry. I love my wife and children, my parents and sisters, my two dogs that I've had for the last eleven years... but I am so overcome with loneliness and grief that I can not smile. I can not eat. I feel like I am just marching in place.
My Brother. Oh how he was such a sweet person. He loved me and I him, he loved us all and cared so much for us. I missed the last six months of his life and we seldom spoke on the phone. There was no problem between us, life had just taken us in our own directions, like the flowing river that it is. Now all I feel is deep, deep regret that I didn't swim against that river and make more of an effort to be in his life. After all, he was truly my best friend. I will always feel like I let him down by not staying in touch. I have an anger for myself for allowing this to happen. I was the big brother. It was my job to be the one to keep the ties strong and I failed. Now it's all gone. There will never be another dinner with him, or fishing or hunting trip. There will never be another chance to help him with a project, or to just see him while visiting my mom. Never another hug and an "I love you, Brother" when I would bump into him somewhere in town. It hurts so much and it is so big and awful that I can not wrap my mind around it. It still hasn't sunk in like I know it will someday. I still can not completely accept that he is gone, but at the same time I do and that is why I am so miserable and filled with loneliness.
I don't know when or if I will ever get past this, but I am sorry for the way it must surely be affecting the rest of my family. To my wife, it is not you. You are just as beautiful as you have ever been, my heart still loves you and needs you. To my kids, both two and four legged, I still love you and am not angry or displeased with you, you are all wonderful and I am so proud of you. To my parents and sisters, I love you and pray that you all are having less difficulty with this than I am.
I love you all, but my heart is so broken that I do not know how I will ever put it together again.