Because I Knew You – Guest Post by Hilary Hayes

I’m honored to present to you the person and work of the talented and lovely Hilary Hayes.  Hilary and I met through a writing group that I started in my living room.  We write together on a frequent basis and I have found so much encouragement through this women.  She’s kept me pressing onward even when I’d stopping believing I could push anymore.  If you’d like a specific example, she talked me out of thinking I should just stop my work on Moonlight and Oranges.

Hilary is a deep feeler.  You’ll get that sense immediately when you read this post.  I had tears pricking my eyes instantly.  Oh my goodness.  This is heart-aching and beautiful.


BECAUSE I KNEW YOU by Hilary Hayes

I feel as if I have lived two lives: the one before my brother Matthew died and the one after. My life shattered when a drunk driver killed him, and I am now a combination of whatever pieces of myself I managed to pick up and glue back together. Pieces are missing or put back in different places, and while I will never be the same, some part of me has survived to be who I am today.

How do you describe someone who was there for almost every moment of your childhood? Like all people, Matt was a wonderfully complex person, full of conflicting characteristics and nuanced personality quirks. Every time I try to describe him, my words fail. I find I risk romanticizing one aspect of him while ignoring another integral part, or worse, turning him into a caricature, rather than the real and effervescent person I knew him to be. Without him around to defend himself, what can I say?

Thinking on this, I realized I don’t want to talk about my brother. I want to talk to him.

To my unique and wonderful brother Matthew,

I just wanted to say we haven’t forgotten you. At times I am afraid I will, but then I realize how much you are a part of me.

I remember how much you hated injustice and how you were never afraid to point out the faulty logic it was based on. You were continually getting in trouble for rebelling against irrational arguments, meaningless tasks, and pointless demonstrations of power. Right or wrong, if you saw something as stupid, you announced your views proudly and never flinched at the consequences.

You were always looking for a reaction. In everything you did, you said unapologetically, “This is who I am, and I will show you why you cannot help but admire me for it.” I think I have some of that in me too. A spark of mischief that pops out when I suspect I am being underestimated, a bit of humor that takes others by surprise, just because I can. You were much better at it than I am, but I am glad some of your personality rubbed off.

I remember how you always knew what to say to point out the foolishness in my arguments. Ben does that now. He does it less often, when it is most needed and in his own way, but just like you he tempers it with a joke. Maybe it is part of his inheritance from you.

I miss the dynamics of our trio. When you were with Ben, sometimes you were more like twins than older and younger brothers. That bond between brothers was something a bossy older sister like me could never entirely be a part of. But that is the way it is supposed to be.

We had a special bond as well. We were born only 18 months apart and understood the responsibilities of being the oldest girl and boy in the family. Together we watched out for Ben, protected him when things got complicated, confronted the bullies that tried to knock him down, and teased him when life got too serious. We may have gone a little too far, by the way, in our efforts to guard him. He is quite good at standing on his own two feet and can fight his own battles.

There are parts of you in both of us, the rest of the family, and probably every person who knew you. Or perhaps we always had those aspects, but only noticed them when we were first around you. Perhaps the similarities in our personalities called out to each other and formed the bonds that made our relationships with you special.

Perhaps that is what made us siblings so close. There were so many bonds between the three of us, that without you, we did not know who we were. Those ties are still there, though they will never be the same. You are gone, and without you we limp along the best we can, holding on to what you taught us.

I miss you and will always love you,



Hilary Hayes lives in Seattle, Washington where her pale complexion can finally be safe. She studied Theater and Art in college and has spent many years in various costume shops. she now spends most of her creative energy rebelling against her dyslexia and writing. The rest of her dwindling free time is spent reading, baking, creating, singing, laughing, and when the sun is out attempting to slack rope with her roommate.


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