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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

CONTENT WARNING: This article contains mentions of death and suicide.

On Monday, April 17, 2023, a day before my 19th birthday, my oldest brother Ryan took his life. Nothing could take me away from that reality.

I woke up that morning in such a good mood. I checked my phone and saw a text from Ryan to me and my other brother, Martin. It read, “Love you.”

I didn’t think much of it, he does that often and at random times. I sent, “Love you” back and went about getting ready for class.

Me and my two brothers, Ryan (left) and Martin (right).

I dressed in my favorite outfit: a brown sweater with cute little creatures on the chest, dark wash wide-legged jeans, my blue Converse and a blue mushroom necklace.

I arrived at econ class around the same time I did every other day, 8:50 a.m. I sat in my normal seat: middle row, three seats in.

My teacher was probably halfway through the lesson when I got a call from my mom. I declined and told her I was in class.

She then texted, asking if I had heard from Ryan. I texted back that I hadn’t. She told me he hadn’t gone to work and people had asked where he was.

This was out of character for Ryan. He was always on time and rarely called off sick, if ever.

I knew instantly that he had taken his life.

He’d struggled with depression since a car accident back in 2016 when he’d gotten serious brain damage that caused him to have to relearn everything.

I sat in class looking up at the ceiling trying and failing to hold in tears, knowing that I had lost one of my favorite people in the world.

I could see out of the corner of my eye that the girl next to me was looking at me. She would look away and back over at me constantly.

I sat another five minutes deciding if I should leave. I had maybe 30 minutes left of class.

I declined my mom’s second call while trying to decide. She instantly texted, “I need you to pick up.”

Shoving my things into my bag, I stood and climbed over the two girls sitting in my row. One of them, someone I’d recently become friends, had concern in her eyes. Mine held tears.

The key chains on my backpack jingled as I jogged down the aisle. Everyone else was silent. I answered my mom’s call and was met with her frantic voice:

“Where are you?” she said.

“I’m by my dorm, pick me up where you normally do” I answered quickly, speed-walking to my dorm parking lot.

My mom worked on campus, so it didn’t take her long to reach my dorm. I got to the parking lot crying but trying to pull myself together for my mom, just in case I was wrong about Ryan.

My mom came flying into the parking lot, parking haphazardly. I jumped into the car, saw tears streaming down her face and quickly embraced her.

We sat there hugging each other, sobbing.

“He’s gone. He’s gone,” my mom kept repeating.

“I know,” was all I could say.

I don’t remember much about our conversation as we drove to tell Rond, Ryan’s husband, and their friend Katie what happened.

We weren’t ready when we got to Ryan, Rond and Katie’s shared apartment. Both Katie and Rond were there waiting and hoping.

My mom spoke. “He’s gone.”

Rond instantly broke down. I looked at Katie with tears in my eyes. My mom hugged Rond and I hugged Katie.

Rond fell on the couch and said he had to call his mom. Rond broke down again on the phone, saying things in Portuguese that we didn’t understand, but we heard Ryan’s name every so often.

My mom explained to Katie all she knew. We stayed there for a while, but my mom was antsy to get home to Martin and my dad.

She told Rond that we needed to go and that he was more than welcome to come with us. He wanted to get some things together and asked to be picked up later.

When we arrived, my dad was sitting in the driveway in his usual chair. My mom and I got out and went to him, one of us on either side. His eyes were brimming with tears.

When my dad cries, which is somewhat rare, his eyes become an even brighter blue than they normally are, mesmerizing. His face, his eyes, that day will forever be etched in my brain. He held us as we all cried.

I went upstairs later to find Martin. He met me right at his bedroom door.

As soon as we embraced, I broke down again. I wasn’t able to catch my breath as I sobbed into his shoulder.

The only thing on my mind, as I gasped for air, was, “Olivia, shut up. You need to calm down, You sound like you’re dying.”

I guess inside I was.

My family and I drove around telling others the news for the rest of the day. Rond, Martin and I squished in the back. My dad drove, and my mom was in the passenger seat.

Rond broke down again in the car. I grabbed his hand, trying to offer any possible comfort.

The first person we went to inform was Ryan’s dad. Many people didn’t know that Ryan was my half-sibling, probably because I never considered him one.

I don’t think I even knew he had a different dad until around third or fourth grade. I didn’t know or care what that meant at the time.

My parents and Rond got out as Martin and I waited in the back. Martin and I didn’t know Ryan’s dad too well.

My parents and Rond stood in the parking lot waiting for Larry to exit his work. As soon as he walked out, he had this anger to him. He immediately started screaming “Where is my son? Where is my son?”

I couldn’t hear much because I was in the car, but I saw my mom say something, and Larry started screaming instantly. Rond hugged him and held him while he sobbed.

Martin and I started crying again in the backseat as we watched our family slowly fall apart.

We were there for about 20 minutes, maybe more, before we moved on to my grandparents.

My Gram had already started crying by the time I walked in. I walked over crying, embracing her, like I did with everyone else. We all stayed in the dining room talking about what happened.

My Gram has pictures of us everywhere. My mom walked to one side of the room, looked up and saw a picture of her and Ryan from a trip we took to New York that December. She took a shaky breath and turned away.

The third slide shows the picture on my gram’s wall.

The rest of that day was a blur. More and more of my family came to my grandparents’ house, and we all sat there in our grief.

That night I couldn’t sleep. I kept seeing Ryan in my head, asking myself what I could have done to save him.

What could I have said that would have changed his mind?

I ended up giving up on sleep and went downstairs to find my mom on her computer. She couldn’t sleep either and decided to work on his obituary.

I helped her write it and ended up falling asleep sometime around 8 a.m. I woke up a couple of hours later to find more family at our house.

That whole week was a whirlwind and lives vividly in my head.

Even though this day will forever be a part of my life, this isn’t about Ryan’s death. It’s about his life, his infectious laugh, his bright smile and his huge heart. It’s about how he was so comfortable in himself and never cared what others thought.

Ryan loved to prank everyone. His pranks weren’t very original, but he got so much laughter from them. He loved to trap people when he farted, sit on them, hide and jump out when you least expect it, etc.

He once chased Martin and me around with a tissue with a spider in it. It didn’t actually have a spider in it, but we didn’t know at the time.

He then caught a picture of the moment he threw it at us. As you can see below, I was terrified. He loved to make fun of how scared I was at this moment.

He loved to dance and sing, even if he wasn’t that good. He loved goats and unicorns. He loved all types of animals and was constantly picking them up.

He loved trying new things, especially food. Some of the wildest things he’s eaten include cow tongue, frog legs, octopus, crickets and so much more.

I was always so envious of how brave he was. Nothing scared him.

Ryan dancing for Saint Patrick’s Day.

He loved playing Super Smash Bros every time Martin and I would visit. He loved Skip-bo, which we played daily after his accident.

He was super competitive and hated losing. He loved climbing trees and took every chance to climb one.

He was petrified of hair and would freak out anytime he found mine on the ground.

Ryan always had his tongue sticking out. His catchphrase was “Hey girl.”

Ryan always had the most crazy stories to tell. He lived quite a life.

He had gotten his leg stuck in a sinkhole walking home from the bus stop. His car became infested with ants which would crawl all over the windshield while he drove.

At work, a rack of eggs had fallen on him and he was stuck underneath the rack for a long time before someone found him.

So many people loved Ryan. More than 750 people came to his funeral, and it took over four hours to get through to everyone.

He impacted so many people’s lives and never even knew it. It’s truly sad that he thought he wasn’t enough when all these people thought the world of him.

I think the worst part of losing him is having to relive his death every day.

I wasn’t around Ryan very often after he moved out. We were both busy with our schedules, so I really only saw him once a month.

Because of that, I forget he’s truly gone when I think about him now. I constantly have to remind myself that he’s gone and he’s not coming back.

If I could talk to Ryan again, I would tell him I miss and love him so much, and I hope he finally found peace.

If you ever have thoughts of suicide please reach out to someone. There are people out there that love you and want you in their life.

There are so many resources out there for you if you want help. Here at Penn State, we have CAPS, and there’s the suicide hotline, which is 988. You can also reach out to a therapist.

Please reach out to someone, and take care of yourself.

You are enough.

Olivia is studying English and Advertising. She's a sophomore at Penn State University. She lives around thirty minutes from State College in a town called Port Matilda. She aspires to be a book publisher when she graduates. Olivia loves to read and has recently gotten into writing. She works part-time at Wegmans, where she stocks dairy products. When Olivia isn't writing, she's reading, watching Netflix, listening to Lana Del Rey, or cuddling with her cat, Peeta.