Bruce Bennett/Getty Kevin and Jimmy Hayes
Seven weeks after Jimmy Hayes' sudden death, his younger brother will be playing his first NHL season without his "best friend."
In an interview with the Associated Press published Thursday, Kevin Hayes spoke about his grief and frustration following his brother's death this summer. Jimmy, a former Boston Bruins star and father of two, was found dead at his home in the Boston suburbs on Aug. 23. His cause of death has yet to be released.
Kevin, who plays for the Philadelphia Flyers, is now back in Pennsylvania and ready to begin the hockey season after spending the last couple months mourning Jimmy's death with his family in Boston (though it will still be a few more weeks until he plays due to an abdominal surgery).
"It was tough being in Boston because everyone knows us," Kevin, 29, said.
Tom Mihalek/AP/Shutterstock Jimmy Hayes
"I couldn't go get coffee or go for a walk without someone awkwardly staring at me, wanting to say sorry or give me a hug. It just kind of got draining," he said.
Instead of sitting on his parents' couch or spending his whole day with Jimmy's wife Kristen, he added, it has been "nice to actually get back and look forward to the season."
"I lost my best friend and my brother. She lost her husband and her father to her kids," Kevin said, referring to his sister-in-law. Jimmy and Kristen share sons Beau, 2, and Mac, who was born in May.
"It's tough," Kevin continued. "I can accept what happened, that my brother's gone and he died. I'm 29 years old and I understand what death is. The thing that I can't get my head around, the whole, not to get spiritual, but God. Being mad at God."
"I don't understand how those two kids don't have a dad anymore. I can't accept that. I don't think I ever will," he said. "But I also look at God sending different messages."
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Kevin said that he and Jimmy "were best friends our whole life," and got a tattoo in his older brother's honor that reads: "Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal."
The day after Jimmy's death, Kevin wrote a heartfelt post on Instagram, including photos from his brother's wedding and family pictures.
Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty
"Yesterday I lost my best friend, my brother. My whole life it has always been Jimmy and Kevin or the Hayes brothers. I have followed you around since I can remember and I wouldn't want it any other way. Whether it was youth hockey, Nobles, Boston College or the NHL, you paved the way for me," Kevin wrote.
"You taught me everything I needed to know in order to succeed," the athlete continued. "You lit up every single room you walked into with your smile and positive attitude. Everyone wanted to be around Jim, the big, goofy, horrible dancer, funny, genuine and kindest person around. I will never forget the times we shared or the memories we made and know that I will try my hardest to have your legacy live on."
"Our world lost someone special and I don't know if I will ever be the same but till we meet again, I LOVE YOU JIM!"