My beloved brother passed away on May 4th.
I left work early to make the 3 hour drive to see him. A week prior he looked better and was a bit more responsive than my initial visit to him in the hospital. But he also wasn’t eating, and barely drinking. There was no IV, and only meds given for pain and nausea. On May 3rd he was given 1 week to live.
On May 4th, I drove to him with a card that I made with the image of a wolf (a creature he identified closely with) and a few crystals and stones in a medicine bag. One of the stones had “Love” engraved on it. Another sister from out-of-state was flying in that night and a few more brothers and sisters were driving in that weekend.
I left home at 2:30 pm. At 3:00 pm I had a strange rush of calm go through me. My body seemed to settle as I thought and felt “He’s gone.” No, no, don’t think that. Just keep driving. You’ll see him soon.
At 4:00 I received that call that at 2:40 pm, my beautiful brother had passed away, with his son by his side.
I was angry, grief-stricken, and didn’t know who to call. “Who do I turn to?!?” I yelled through my tears. “I don’t blame you” I told him, “I get it, you had to go. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there.”
I managed to see his body at the nursing facility before they took him away. He looked really good in that he looked so young and so at peace. I sat next to him, crying and talking, knowing that anything I had to say was for my own sake. He was already gone and he already knew the answers. I said a prayer, brushed back his hair, kissed his forehead, read the card I made for him, and set the card and medicine bag next to him as the facility worker covered him and took him away.
I drove to my dad’s and stopped just shy of the doorway, bursting into tears. My brother doesn’t live here anymore. I walked in the door to find my sister on the phone and my father sitting silently at the kitchen table, staring ahead of him. His eyes still had a few tears cradled under his lids and his left hand was slowly and gently tapping the table. He didn’t look up at me and we said nothing.
I sat next to him in silence. After what seemed like so long, I started sobbing. My sister stood next to me hugging me as I wept. I reached out and held my dad’s hand.
As the days passed, people began to filter in and out of my Dad’s home. My siblings are 9 total, so including cousins, nephews, nieces, etc. the numbers add up quickly. For all the discomfort and dysfunction that my family embodies, there’s a strange sense of comfort when there are more of us there. It’s a thin veil of my childhood, when we were all together.
I was with my family for a week, and coming home was tough decision to make. But practicality pulled me to be home with enough time to do laundry, clean my room, and rest before going back to work.
As soon as I opened the front door I burst into tears. As I stood in my bedroom doorway, I scanned my room and thought “when I left here my brother was alive. I was looking forward to seeing him.” The pain that settled in that day was deeper and heavier than before. I was alone and knowing that I will never see my brother again was breaking my heart.
As the days have been passing, I can honestly say that time is not easing the pain. It hurts just a bit deeper every day and feels like an abduction has just taken place. Even in knowing that he is no longer feeling pain, no longer struggling, and no longer angry, I still also feel angry that he suffered through life as he did.
I know it’s all in the process. Just being with it. But since my mom passed away 17 years ago, I had all but forgotten what it’s like to really lose someone so close. Until now.