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My brother, Ross, died in October 2012 in a house fire at the age of 21. Since then my life has been turned on it’s head, and yet one comfort has stuck with me above all others: my gaming. Ross was a big gamer, and we spent hours upon hours talking, arguing, laughing about the games we played as kids and the ones we were playing now. This shared hobby kept us connected when I went off to college, and then when he did the same. Gaming now feels a little bit like… a way to stay connected. Somehow. To play the games we loved, or ones that were his favorites and I never managed to get around to it, or ones that I look at and know I’d have recommended to him….

My mom keeps asking me if there’s a hobby or a project or something I’d like to do in life that I’ve never gotten a chance to do before. Aside from visiting Europe or something hugely expensive like that, all I can think of trying to make the dork proud by gearing up my mage in WoW, or finally sitting down and getting through more than the introduction of Fallout 3. And that doesn’t even begin to involve the way gaming has given me a way (and a great excuse) to stay connected to the friends who’ve supported me through this. We’re all across the country, and having a game to log in to, and a reason to sit on skype and ramble about whatever we want, however meaningless or important it might end up being, has saved me from sitting alone and dwelling on things more than is healthy.

Now there’s obvious downsides if I take too far, obviously, and those tend to be the ones my parents are wary about when they saw me sit on my laptop every night in the months after the fire, but I can’t help but feel like it’s helping me more than they understand. Sure, I don’t want to resort to a sedentary lifestyle, or escape completely into these fantasy worlds, but it’s always been a coping mechanism for me, and I think I need it now more than ever.

I’ve also been really wanting to journal about the sort of feelings that I find bubbling up time and time again, but it’s an overwhelming thing to try and accomplish when you sit down and feel like doing so is akin to drowning in all the emotions it brings up. I thought, you know… what if I looked at it a bit differently… what if I explain why I spend hours gaming these days, and why I’d categorize it much more as ‘coping’ rather than ‘escaping’. That seems much more tangible, and doable in a time where some things feel impossible. And I can forget that he’s gone for a little bit every once in awhile, almost 5 months after the fact, but playing games I know he’s gone but at the same time he’s not. He’s always right there with me, laughing about a stupid glitch, naming characters ridiculous things with his tried and true animal+verb formula, or geeking out over the pros and cons of the latest RPG.

And maybe, if someone else out there has felt or is feeling the same, they could find some comfort in the fact that I’m there with you. Or enjoy the stories and memories about my dorky little brother. Or just have a smile at a girl’s awkward attempts to talk about her lifelong hobby.

This blog will be part gaming hijinks, part grieving sister. Cause I feel like that’s what my life is right now, and I’m okay with it. How much of each varies with any given moment and probably will on here too, but I’ve always been a pretty open person, taking comfort in telling stories to other people. There’s parts of myself that are private and for me and my loved ones alone, but this can be for the other stuff.

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