I have three brothers. They are all younger than me but in the true spirit of Catholic families in the 60s, not by much. My middle brother was calling to tell me that my oldest brother had suffered a massive heart attack sometime after going to bed on Saturday night and had not survived. What? Up to that point I had been half asleep but now I was wide awake.
After hanging up, the rest of the night was spent pacing the house or laying awake in bed staring at the ceiling. Not only was I trying to process the news but I was filled with dread as I thought about the calls I would have to make to both sets of parents. I had decided it would serve no purpose to call them in the middle of the night. Let them enjoy one last night of peaceful sleep as it will likely be their last for the forseable future.
Needless to say the past few days have been filled with overwhelming sadness. I can't seem to focus on anything-not even my garden. I have been asked to jot down a few memories to be read at the funeral mass tomorrow. Although I have many I am unable to translate them into words. Naturally we are all saddened by the loss of my brother Jeff. We feel cheated out of what we assumed would be twenty, thirty or even forty more years of time together. And even though most of us go about our business otherwise, on some level we all know that no day on earth is guaranteed.
Jeff would have been 52 next week. By most standards he died too young, but not if you put it into perspective. Jeff lived and enjoyed a good life. He had a chance to fall in love and get married, watch his daughter grow up and enter college, pursue his hobbies, and make years of memories with his family and friends. Lots of people never get that chance. Lots.
How many family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers or even acquaintances do you know who would give anything, anything to have only had 52 years with their child or sibling, or 15 years with their spouse or parent? Lots. Rather than focus on the time we didn't get with Jeff, we should focus on the time that we did. And be grateful for every minute of that time.
By no means am I advocating that we should live each day like it was our last. Living that way would be depressing and counterproductive. Instead we should get up in the morning and look for joy in the little things that happen every day. Woven together, it's the small joys that make for a full and happy life. Jeff lived this way and even though our sorrow is deep, it is for ourselves. For Jeff we should be happy.
That's beautiful Sue. A sweet and loving tribute.ReplyDelete
Sorry for your loss, our condolences to you and your family.ReplyDelete
I am so sorry. I have never buried a sibling but I have had to go through this with many other family members. Your perspective on celebrating his life will help make the grieving process easier. You are in my thoughts and prayers.ReplyDelete
A beautiful tribute to your brother Sue. Thoughts to live by. I'm so sorry for your loss. Inadequate words but I don't believe there is language adequate to express my sorrow for you and your family.ReplyDelete
My heart goes out to your whole family. Just remember to let yourself grieve.ReplyDelete
Go through your photos, relive those special moments. It may be difficult but in many ways it can also be very healing.
These photos of you and your brother are priceless, the love shines on both of you.
A life well-lived is indeed something to honor and celebrate. The gap left in our own lives by the loss of such a person is what we mourn. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, Sue. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry for your loss. I appreciate your outlook on finding the joy each day.ReplyDelete
Sue, you are a wonder and today's post is wonderful. I lost my father when I was eighteen, the third week of college, the same way your family and you lost Jeff, at 49. Let yourself rage and feel cheated on behalf of Jeff. There is time to be wise later. Be pissed off and angry and loudly heartbroken now. He would be.ReplyDelete
My prayers are with you and your family.ReplyDelete
You are so right, of course. But it's still tragic. I am so sorry.ReplyDelete
You are so wise and articulate my dear friend! HUGS.ReplyDelete
So sorry Sue. My thoughts are with you and your family.ReplyDelete
I am so sorry for your loss. The tears are certainly natural and therapeutic. And you are very wise to focus on the happy memories. What a great smile he had!ReplyDelete
I am so so sorry to hear this. You have reminded us of the things we need to cherish and how to go about that. My husband died at age 51 and it took me a long time to reach the point you have so beautifully written here. My sympathies to you, your brothers and parents.ReplyDelete
Beautiful thoughts Sue! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this horrible time.ReplyDelete
Your tribute to your brother is wonderful. I'm so very sorry.ReplyDelete
I've lost two brothers, two nephews, a mother. All I can suggest is you let yourself grieve, fully and openly.
Sue, I never had a sibling, but you make the sadness of losing one palpable. I am so sorry for your loss, but I appreciate you for so powerfully and thoughtfully sharing the lessons arising from a death in the family.ReplyDelete
Sorry for your loss, Sue. It is good to remember the times together & the love you all shared! Life is made of those things. Praying comfort for you & your family.ReplyDelete
My condolences. I lost my oldest brother to cancer some years ago. It is a hard experience, but you are approaching it in the right spirit.ReplyDelete
Oh Sue, I am so sorry. Part of my family is in town right now and you've helped remind me to hug them all a little tighter and laugh a little more. We are lucky. Sounds like you have been too to have your brother in your life for as long as you did. Sending hugs your way.ReplyDelete
A visit from sadness is inevitable and never welcome, but sooner or later he has to get the hell out and go somewhere else. I know you will prevail .ReplyDelete
Great people will be greatly missed, no two ways about it. Judging from the last photo, I'd say Jeff shared your warmth and humor. Take care of yourself, Sue.ReplyDelete
A sad loss. Speaking from the heart means that you found a way to translate many memories into words and photos right here. Beautiful done, Sue.ReplyDelete
Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. Last week was difficult and I still find it all hard to comprehend. I will miss my brother for the rest of my life.ReplyDelete
Dear Sue, your words are inspiring and so very positive at this terribly sad time. May you and your family find peace.ReplyDelete
I am so sorry for you and your family, and I hope that you are able to gather whatever peace the world can provide.ReplyDelete