Melting Away

My brother passed away in 2008 leaving behind an array of mixed emotions that were so strong I couldn’t find a way out of my mind. I spent months walking around staring down at my feet and being unable to smile at the things that used to bring me joy.

I sat down one day and decided I couldn’t let my brother’s death be my death as well. I dug through the journals he had left behind, trying to piece together who he was to himself and how he saw the world. This led me to start drawing again.

I never started taking art seriously till then, because it became the tool that forced me to heal from the loss. I wrote a story called Melting Away based on the life of my brother. I turned him into a penguin named Peregrine who has to go on an epic journey to travel through the dangerous frozen lands on a quest to save his tribe from the dangers of “Spring.”

My brother suffered from depression. This disease slowly ate him alive and he forgot how to ask for help. The making of the illustrations for this story helped me to work through my depression too and now when I look back on these old pieces I still see the pain I had worked through with each pen stroke.

If you ever feel like you can not live on anymore please just talk to someone about how you are feeling. I promise you are not alone in your sadness and sharing this with someone will start your journey to healing too. Its not a sign of weakness to be tired of challenges in life- its normal. We all need to be helped journeying along every so often. We are not taught this enough as children, but you are much stronger when you seek help than when you try to do it alone. So seek out help, you owe yourself, and those who love you, that much.

Ben and Joe
My brother Joe and I from way back in 1985- the year The Goonies came out.
Joseph Riddlebarger May 6, 1977- September 16, 2008

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