The night of July 2, 2016, my brother and I were texting about the Mets (like every year, we had high hopes for them). Our conversation came to an end and he texted me “Good night! Love you!” Those were the last words my brother ever said to me. He died just a few hours later. A few weeks later, I had a problem with my phone and I lost all texts and pictures from the month of July. His last words to me were gone. 

In March 1997, I woke up for school and found a letter from my brother next to my bed. I guess we had argued earlier because most of what he wrote in that letter was an apology- he didn’t mean it, he shouldn’t take stuff out on me, and he was sorry for how things went down. The real point of his letter, however, was to ask me if I would wake him up the next morning- and he would even drive me to school! 

For whatever reasons, I kept the letter. It was dated 3/11/97 which my brother noted “hey, it’s 311!” (at the time, one of my favorite bands). My brother loved to draw and exaggerate. He drew an intricate spider web, next to which he wrote “the web!” He talked about the internet a lot and told me he liked to think of it as a giant web. Not much later I learned that “the web” was not his analogy; it was literally the internet’s nickname. His handwriting was beautiful, every letter was a work of art, and I admired it my entire life. This letter was an entire page of the very handwriting I would later work so hard to emulate.  That letter was my brother: creative, fun, smart, beautiful, sometimes a little sneaky, and always endearing. 

In March 2017, as I was going through some old pictures and cards in my nightstand, I found the letter. I started to laugh, remembering how mad he was when I tried to wake him that morning, when I noticed something about the letter- it was signed “Good night! Love you!” His last words to me before he died, which were lost forever in that damn “web” he loved to talk about, were now staring at me in his beautiful handwriting from a random letter he wrote me in 1997. 

It’s March 2022- almost 6 years since I lost my big brother and 25 years since that letter was written. I think of him every day and miss him all the time. Sharing him with you keeps me feeling connected to him but it also connects me to all of you- and to me, that’s what COPE is all about- connections. 

We all have the shared experience of loss but I bet we share more than that. So let’s connect- send us an email, share a story, show us your favorite picture. It may help you in your journey and you may help someone else in theirs. The next level of healing is helping. 

To each of you in the COPE community, it is an honor to be Co-President with Larry.  An important piece of our vision is to ensure that COPE continues to be available and accessible to everyone who needs the support- we cannot do that without you. Help us to grow COPE and make it stronger.  To Larry, thank you for loving Phish and reminding me so much of my brother. And to my brother- good night, love you!

– Jen Schwartz