Two weeks ago I got one of those calls people dread getting. My younger brother was dead.
Before shock set in, I started to get additional calls as word got around. The are a lot of cliches about what happens to a person when someone close dies, but I’m not sure how I feel about those things.
I don’t tend to grieve openly. Nor do I go through the various stages of grief that we’re supposed to all go through. I have no problem accepting when someone dies. I don’t go through denial, nor do I get angry at them for leaving me alone. There is no guide book for this kind of thing, and quite frankly anyone that’s trying to tell you what you are feeling, or should be feeling, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
My brother and I were not very similar to one another. While we lived near each other, we were not the types of siblings that saw eye to eye on everything, and we didn’t call each other on a weekly basis. Some might see “distance” between us, but that’s not true either. We were just cut from different cloth, enjoyed different things.
I mostly have been deconstructing our youth together. We lived out in the country, and for a lot of our childhoods, we were each others’ only playmates. I remember catching my brother playing with matches when he was three and I was five. I still feel bad about ratting him out.
That’s the weirdest part of this for me. Even though we never called each other with any regularity, now I CAN’T. I’ll never hear his voice again.
So, like everyone else that loved him, I’m left with a ragged hole in my life. Although it’s not a savage wound that feels like I will also die, it feels like it will always be there.
One thing his death has reminded me is that every day I wake up is a lucky one, and is not guaranteed. It’s also a reminder to live life – not to avoid doing things I want to because they carry some risk, but to embrace them because that risk is part of life. Cowering because death is around the corner is no way to go through this world.
One cliche worth observing is that nothing in life is certain, and spending time with those we love is important. It may be the only thing that is, and it’s not something to be pushed aside until later. Because “later” might never come.
Anyway, I probably would not normally share something like this so openly, but my brother was worth it.
I love you, James. Some day we’ll play by the creek again.