Last weekend I spent my time piecing together a rough draft of a book, this week I spent my time ruthlessly editing.

The book is younger work, a love story written through poems and short words I penned a few years back. As I’ve spent time immersed in the words of my younger I have realized two things: 1) My younger self liked to tie everything up in neat shiny bows, and 2) she really liked happy endings.

She’s so optimistic I can’t help but smile and honor the hope I find in her words, all as I’m revising them and finding the balance between retaining the work’s original voice while untying some of those neat bows. I have learned that some stories deserve ribbons and happy endings, while others are better told with a less is more approach and space for contemplation.

Yesterday was National Siblings Day, and though I’ve been nearly off of social media in an attempt to tune out the chatter and keep giving myself healing space, it still didn’t escape my notice or fail to bring sorrow to my gaze. I remember on this day last year my brother and I were not in the best space, and I wished I had a different sibling with an easier relationship where there wasn’t so many bumps.

This year I just wish I had my brother. Bumps and all.

Brent’s death is not a happy ending. It is an ongoing question I am continuing to answer with each step I take towards a future that doesn’t include him. It is a jagged rip. Anarchy. An undoing.

My book is a small drop in the answer to the question of his loss. A creation birthed from utter internal chaos, which has helped me feel I like I am standing on something more substantial than the great void of the last few months. I have hope again, it’s just dirtier than it used to be.

A happy ending would be seeing it published. A small victory that gives this tragedy a silver lining, some sunshine after the rain. While I have a plan to send the manuscript, once polished, to several indie publishing companies, I have both small seeds of hope mixed with the gritty knowledge that life doesn’t always give you the ending you expect.

It may just be that I begin to learn the ropes of what it is to submit a manuscript, how to take rejection constructively, how to persevere anyways. Maybe I get a chorus of no’s and end up self publishing so I can feel a sense of completion for the story of my younger days, check it off the list of things to do so I can moving forward, then keep looking ahead to whatever is next.

There are new stories to write. Life is meant to be lived forward, not back.