Saturday, September 17, 2016

Some Lessons Are The Hardest



On September 8, 2016, I backed in to our new yard to unpack one of the last loads as we moved in to our new apartment. It was hot... oppressively hot... but we were so excited to begin this new chapter in our beautiful historic apartment. As I backed in, Mike pulled in beside me. He had "that look" on his face. With a somber voice, he told me he had just received a call from a police officer, and I needed to call immediately. I knew. It was the call I had expected for so many years.  The police officer didn't want to inform me on the phone. But I told him I knew my brother was dead. 

A part of me died too. Many parts. The fear died. The worry died. The hope died.

I suppose I was numb. Like my mother, I drop right into "responsibility mode".  No time to mourn when you have to be dependable.  I did what I had to do.

The weeks that followed were hard. I grieved my baby brother, whom I loved with all of my heart. I forgave my adult brother who was broken by monsters, and never repaired. I did what I had to do. The hardest part was dealing with others who did not know how to deal with death, with responsibility, with adulting. It was hard to be stabbed in the back a little bit more. It was hard to be slapped in the face a little bit more. It was hard to abide by the wishes of our grieving dad to hide the horrid details of our baby brother's death. We all had to pretend Danny died of a heart attack, even though every person who walked through that receiving line knew he lived a life of addiction and mental illness.  I felt like I was betraying him a little more by lying about it all, by pretending it wasn't tragic and heartbreaking. I felt like even in death, rather than honor him as a man who struggled with diseases, we hid the truth in shame to "protect him". 

No one knows how long my brother was dead before they found his body. It had been at least a week. It was suggested that we not view his body. But I could not bear the thought of his corporal being leaving this world without someone he was connected to seeing him, verifying it was him, touching him, telling him we love him. My husband did that for me.  He is everything a man should be, and I will forever be grateful that he was by my side through it all, helping me to say "good-bye" to someone I had lost so many years before. My baby brother didn't deserve any of the things that happened to him in this world. I'll never understand the "whys", but I have faith that there were purposes beyond my knowledge and senses.

Life with my brother was a hard lesson. Death with my brother was a hard lesson. People can be monsters. Loved ones can be cruel. Men can be weak. Men can be strong. Children can be pillars of wisdom and strength in the darkest moments. Life goes on... 

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