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I’d call it deja-vu if that were true.

The way the timber of his voice fluctuates, the way he uses his laugh to punctuate, the way our casual conversations snowball into debates - I might as well be talking to you. If I turn my head away just enough for him to melt into the corner of my eyes, his hunched-up figure morphs into a subtle disguise that deludes me into thinking you’re once again by my side.

He was only fourteen years old when you died and until then his life had only been black and white. Quite literally overnight, he was thrown into a world of grey where he had to make sense of nuances and learn to listen to words that were left unsaid for in his head, his invincible older brother who could do no wrong was suddenly inexplicably dead.

I think it began that very night when he boarded the plane with his aging parents and hugged himself for the entire flight. His parents didn’t have any more answers than he did and his older sister had to be kept in the dark till she met them on the other side. He only had a few hours to make sense of the remains sprawled around him but somehow, he took those all fractions and began to rewrite. He boarded that plane as an innocent fourteen-year-old boy with middle school crushes and older siblings that would mercilessly bully, but he emerged as a grounded young man ready to fight.

He took his grief and let it wash over him, wiping away the balmy innocence and glistening eyes, and chiseling his face into somber, straight lines. He shot up almost with a purpose, from the little boy who held my hand while crossing the street to a whole foot taller than me, almost as if to ensure that I always had someone on whom I could lean. Our eight-year age difference shrunk into oblivion as his eyes began carrying more wisdom and his excited rambling has melted away into well thought-out conversations every time we speak. He pierced his left ear just like you and he traded in his plastic pair to be able to wear your sunglasses too. In less than a year he was practically your height so it came as no surprise when he traded in his wardrobe for yours, stomping about quite literally in your shoes.

He carries you so effortlessly it sometimes shocks me to hear him say he’s afraid of losing you in time. That as the days go by, you will fade into the backdrop of his life and that every memory won’t dance on the tip of our tongues for too long a while. Almost as if his fear of losing you grew so strong, he wanted to make sure there was some way perhaps you could just be absorbed. In the past two years, I've watched his face shed away to only reveal yours and on our worst days, it feels like a little joke from beyond. As if you’re still snickering at us for mourning your loss, when a part of you still walks amongst us, but with so much more resolve. For that’s the thing about deja-vu, it isn’t that exact moment once again coming true. It’s a fleeting memory you catch a glimpse of and revel in its warmth before coming back to reality. And while there is so much to revel in and so many fleeting memories that he inspires, he is already fortunately so much more than just me or you.

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