Today is National Sibling Day. Honestly, until the invention and popularity of Facebook, I never knew such a day existed on April 10th. Up until two years ago I didn’t really contemplate its meaning to the fullest. I might have put a quick picture up and tagged my sister and brother in it, but more so out of “trend” and less out of meaning.
That all changed in 2015. I lost my baby brother, he was only 38. I was not prepared for the sudden void this loss has created. That’s not how things are supposed to be. He’s the youngest, I had always planned that he was going to be there for me, for everyone until we were very old. I took him completely for granted, and I know this now.
The last time we were together, as Three, was on his birthday in July 2014. I was up visiting my home town so we gathered together, made peach cobbler and took a road trip to visit our Mom. My brother, so graciously agreed to do this INSTEAD of going out on the lake with friends for a BBQ, and beers. I honestly am not sure I would have done the same back then? What is FUN about seeing your ailing mother, and hanging with your two boring sisters ON YOUR BIRTHDAY?
As luck would have it, we got caught in the WORST traffic jam of the areas recent history. We were stuck for about 3 hours on our ride home. That ride should have taken 30 minutes, on average. At that point I think we all three were ready for the “sibling together time” to end. But, we made the best of it and survived not only a visit with my Mom, but the car ride home. We said our goodbyes and that was that.
Little did I know…..
Now looking back that most inconvenient time of being stuck is so very precious. More precious than gold. It was the last time I saw my brother. The profile of his face in the darkness with the tail lights of all the cars stopped is burned into my memory forever. It was the last time we had normal, light hearted together time as three. It was the last time I would complain about needing to pee so bad… while he sat there patient and quietly laughing at me, making the best to it. That was him, the gentle giant. He didn’t seem bothered at all having spent his birthday this way. I will always appreciate him for that.
On the night of March 14th, 2015 my brother drove his car off the end of a road hit and went over a dirt berm (Dukes of Hazard Style). His car cleared a creek, and tumbled and rolled for more than half the length of a football field (approximately 1500 feet) according to the report. His death was not labeled Suicide but we know it was. It was a road he knew well as he drove it at least once a day it was just near his house. He left an encrypted note. There were people who saw him racing up and down the road just before the accident. I suppose he had to get up the nerve to do something like that. Those same witnesses held his hand as he said took his last breath. I am thankful he was not alone, because the idea of that for me is unbearable. I don’t talk much about that night and have never written it down in words. This is the first time and it’s hard.
There are no words to describe how this kind of loss feels. There is no way to prepare for it. Only those who have experienced it know. The rest, I pray will never know. It took counseling and time to even start to live with it as I have. There were days when I beat myself up wondering, could I have known? Could I have said something to change his mind? What was he thinking? What was he going through that was so bad he would do such a thing? The list goes on… and on. The truth is, I will never know. I will never understand. That’s OK I am not supposed to and now I work on trying to accept that. I still cry and have my moments. It’s normal, grieving is a process.
I never fully understood how much I loved my brother until he was gone. As a kid he always annoyed me by following me around, or teasing me. I was a protective sister, even beat up an older neighborhood boy because he picked on my brother. I felt like I was his third Mom. My sister and I were always tasked with babysitting and keeping him safe. I assure you, it was a chore, he was an incredibly busy child!
As an adult he had his own life, but when we did get together I was always marveled by his open mind. He knew so much about so many things! I admired him for that and miss the conversations we could have on any subject. He never made me feel stupid when I brought up things that were “far out”. He had a generosity and a caring nature to be there and do anything for others. He was always a giver, never a taker. I see that now. He was not materialistic in any way. His greatest riches were his children, his dog and his music.
He was so talented, and felt everything intensely. His music that he wrote tells how much he loved, felt and expirenced this world during his time here. It also wrote of his pain. He loved so deeply but never found that right person to reciprocate or give love back. His music was beautiful and poetic. My brother and I both write to cope. I write poems (and occasional blogs like this), he wrote poems with music. Same outlet different styles. We are very much alike.
So now on this day of siblings it is just the two of us, my sister and I. I don’t take her for granted, or at least I try not to. I am also still fortunate to have both of my parents so I try not to take them for granted either. When I can, I truly appreciate the time I have with them. It is hard as I live her in Arizona and they are all in Northern California.
I retired from working for corporate America in January and now work for myself. So one of my intentions with creating this life was so that I could get home to see my family, parents and siblings more often. I just got home last week from a trip home. It was a good visit. Its a priority for me now. I can not longer expect them to always be there, I know better.
So I guess what I am trying to say is on this National Sibling Day let your brother, or sister know that you love them. While you are at it, if you are blessed like me, call your Mom, or Dad too. Because, you just never know.