- Death & Loss of Life
A Surreal Situation
I honestly don't know if this post could be considered grief stricken ramblings or not. The thing is, I feel the loss, but I don't feel grief stricken.
I lost my youngest brother, Guy, September the sixth, 2012. Since that time, I haven't really had a moment of quiet time until now. And the whole situation has been somewhat surreal for me.
So basically, in an effort to process some of this, I'm just going to share some of my thoughts. And I don't know if I will be considered selfish for having some of these thoughts.
Maybe most people have thoughts like this, but these are the things that are not supposed to be expressed. I don't know. Maybe it's not socially acceptable to say out loud that you have thoughts like this, but it's real and it's the truth.
There's been a lot of noise; kind of like that buzzing fuzzy stuff from the TV. What do they call that? White noise? In my mind it's more like interference. It's very annoying and it's emanating from one source; one person.
I realize that people process things differently. And I'm trying very, very, very hard to be patient, but all I want to do is run away from the sudden octopus in my life. And while I feel myself gearing up for sprint mode, I'm wondering if this is abnormal.
Under The Circumstances
Not that I haven't lost love ones before, but never this close. It was very different when my grandparents on both sides of the family left the earth. I was not able to attend the most recent ceremony, which was at the time that my grandmother on my father's side left us. She lived in Baltimore, and I wasn't able to afford the ticket.
On my mother side, at the time that my grandparents individually left us; there were so many nasty undercurrents and bickering going on between my relatives; her siblings and herself.
Even I was not at stage yet, where I had learned to keep my thoughts to myself; and since all that bickering really annoys me, I made a few comments about it. Perhaps I was too young to appreciate that people were doing the best they could under the circumstances.
All I know is that, regrettably, a lot of things were said all around that caused a lot of people pain, some of which has still not been forgiven by certain individuals. So I'm trying really hard to keep my emotions on lock, so that I don't repeat the same dynamic.
Fighting Off The Drama
At the same time, I also have to process this. I also have to deal with the set of new responsibilities that I'm shouldered with. Now, I have to deal with the one thing that my brother kept me shielded from in large part.
And the thing is, the one person that was the center of it all then, is the center of it all now. This person's manner of processing my brother's departure, has left me feeling like a caged bird.
I'm trying to ward off the guilt trip greetings; the abnormal clinginess; the repeated and annoying questions about how I feel about this while holding my arms and staring me in the face; the excessively numerous calls with whining about my availability; manipulative claims of abandonment; and the blow by blow details of every minute aspect of what happened from the moment my brother departed; all from this one person.
I don't know how else to describe it other than to say that I keep getting an image of a skeletal claw trying to sink in to me and lock me down to control me. The more manipulation and clingy control efforts I see; the more I want to pack my bags and flee.
My older brother has estranged himself from the family. He has not made an appearance, and most likely won't. He is who he is. So, just as I knew at 16 years old, I would have to take care of this. I'm just wondering if my mixed feelings about this are normal?
And believe me, I understand the fear. The fear now, is losing the rest of the family and being left alone. This is why I am going through this clingy, manipulative, and controlling drama; but I can't take it. The tighter the attempt of a hold and efforts to control becomes, the harder I tend to pull away in the opposite direction. I've always hated that manipulation game and I refuse to tolerate it. In fact I spent a good portion of my life running from it.
My younger brother did his time and shielded me for a long time from this intense dependency situation. I am grateful for that. But now it's my turn, and I take on the responsibility with some measure of in-trepidation. But the fact of the matter is, despite all urges to run, I'm willing to take on the responsibility.
Maybe some people will think that I'm unsympathetic. I don't think that's the case. I'm aware that more than likely, I don't process things the way the majority of people might be inclined to. So perhaps the problem is me. We all choose how we think, feel, and react. I think I have always been pretty real about my emotions, however, I don't necessarily show them to everyone.
I'm just not into the drama. I have a tendency to walk away whenever I see people going into drama episodes. I just don't get caught up in that stuff because it's foolishness. I'm not into drama because it is usually self centered, and meant to draw attention to the person creating drama. Perhaps the fact that I'm just not emotionally overwrought is the real issue, I don't know, but there's a reason for that.
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When I got the news of my brothers departure, it was a shock. But even in receiving that news, I had to cut through the noise. The first thing I heard as I returned numerous messages and calls, was a bunch of complaining about how difficult it was to reach me in the event of an emergency.
So then I had to cut to the chase. "What is the problem?" I had to ask this same person. After all I was on my job. We aren't allowed to have cell phones on our person or in our rooms. Our phones have to be kept on silent in the break room, because a massage studio is supposed to be quiet.
Additionally, you don't tend to make yourself that available for "emergency calls" from someone who has a pattern of making every insignificant thing into an emergency. Aside from that, if I'm in session, I cannot take calls.
So when I was told that my brother was gone, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "That's impossible!" Was the first thing I blurted out. Of course I knew nothing is impossible, but I was shocked. What I meant was, how did it happen?
The Last Time I Saw Him
After getting off the phone, a lot of thoughts began going through my mind. I didn't cry because I was still in shock. After all I had just seen him on Tuesday. He had loaned me his lawn mower and was picking it up.
We were talking about our individual experiences at the beach that morning, because oddly enough, we both ended up at the beach. I was at one part of the beach, and he and his wife and baby girl were at another. So when we were talking about this, we were comparing notes on how phenomenal God is, and how cool and beautiful his artwork of nature is.
As usual, my brother, the comedian, had jokes. So we chatted for a bit and shared a couple of laughs; and hugged and kissed each other and said goodbye. Little did I know, that that would be the last time I saw my brother alive.
Facing This Reality
So here I was facing this reality. I had just finished my shift, but I was supposed to do an event for the studio. So the question became do I honor my commitment to do the event, or do I go to my brother's house and face sobbing throngs?
At the time that I had received the news, his body had not been removed from the house yet. I had already been given a blow by blow on his passing, but I did not want to see his body. I did not want to remember my brother like that. So I decided to stay at work and go to the event.
I discussed it with the girl at my office; one of the front desk girls. I wondered if I was odd or strange because I wasn't falling apart. She said that people process things differently, which really helped me a lot.
Focused On The Good Times
But, as I explained my thoughts to her, it really became clear in my mind. I wasn't really upset. I was shocked, but I was not upset. I wasn't upset because I was thinking about all the good times I had with my brother. There were so many of those, and they definitely, greatly outweighed any bad times that may have been.
I shed a few tears only because I was thinking about things he had said that had made me laugh 'til I cried. I was thinking about all the holiday dinners where he'd just crack jokes the whole time; and I'd nearly choke on my dinner from laughing so hard that my sides hurt. My face would be a complete mess from tears, and I'd be struggling to breathe from laughing so hard.
I also shed a tear two because I knew I was going to miss those times with him; but I'm happy for him. I'm confident that he is with God so I'm not sad. He was saved, as I am. I know how STRONG his faith was. I also know how he took every opportunity to share that faith in an effort to help people improve their lives.
This is why so many people were devastated at the news. This is also why, in spite my knowledge of his current new residence, I'm wondering if I'm strange for not being so devastated. Even as I write this, a few tears are falling, but that's only because I'm remembering how fantastic he was, all the good times, and all the laughter we shared.
But I haven't had a moment of boo-hoo crying, or any heavy sobbing, because I'm happy that my brother made it. He's away from this virtual reality; this matrix of a false world that we live in.
But people are still expecting me to fall apart. The head therapist at my job graciously came to me, and attempted to offer her help and assistance if I needed anything; despite the fact that she struggles with dealing with goodbyes and funerals. Even she stated that there has to come a time when I'm going to fall apart.
My brother had 44 great years. I think his life is worth celebrating. As much as I was worried about him when he briefly crossed paths with cancer; I'm glad that he did not have to suffer through a debilitating illness.
I'm happy that he got to go home to his Father in heaven. He's the first of our immediate family to go there; and I know he'll be waiting for us, holding our seats.
If all of you could see the messages of love and support on his Facebook you would understand the impact that he had. I had thought that my grandfather's funeral was huge.
I had never seen so many cars in a procession in my whole life, not even on TV. The cars following his procession stretched on for many long miles. But, my beautiful brother definitely took on my grandfather's heart and spirit of giving. His procession is going to be even larger.
My brother's impact was so huge, that when his job got the news, the entire operation came to a standstill. My brother was such a light there, and the people who worked for and with him loved him so much; that therapists had to be called in because all the employees were so distressed, and the whole place was just falling apart.
Strength In The Face Of Heartbreak
In addition to the fact that my brother was really amazing; I have to give props to his wife. She's been solid as a rock and I'm really proud of her and so impressed with how she handled everything. It's so clear to see how much God has strengthened her over the years and prepared her for this moment.
Even in the few moments when I've seen her cry for a minute or two, it's always been about someone else's response, or reaction, like their kids; or the way other people have just been so beautiful in their outpouring of love.
Even in the face of telling her children, she still kept it together even through tears and hearing the response of her autistic daughter, who said, "Daddy's gone to be with Jesus? But I want him to come back."
She's been so steady in handling everything and doing what must be done. I can do nothing, but commend her for her strength and fortitude, and I know that it's all God as well. I am also truly grateful for her friends, Judy and Edith. These ladies that have stuck with her through thick and thin for years like sisters. Their support is such a blessing and so greatly appreciated.
Blessed To Have An Extention
Even as I was driving home that evening, I was thankful to God that my brother has been given extra time. He'd gotten gravely ill about 5 or 6 years ago. He had pneumonia and the doctors had said that his heart, lungs and liver were all shutting down. They didn't think he was gonna make it. Even then the outpouring of love and support was amazing.
So many concerned people came to his hospital room and prayed over him. So many people were afraid that we were going to lose him then. His wife, her sister in Chicago, and I stood in the gap as the only people who really knew for sure that this was not a departure.
My brother's life was not where it was supposed to be. He and his wife had separated, and he seemed to be drifting away from God. So God brought him to his knees and gave him a chance to repent.
When his wife, Connie and I went to the hospital to pray for him, something strange, but beautiful happened. My thought at the time was that his organs and his mindset needed help. As I was about to pray for him, I placed one hand above his forehead and one hand above his chest cavity. The words that came out of me definitely we're not from me because I've never prayed in that manner before.
We were in a freezing cold ICU room, but my unconscious brother was sweating profusely from the heat that was emanating from my hands as I prayed over him. I always known that I had a God given healing gift, but I have never known how or when it was going to be activated until that moment in time.
His wife prayed next, and when she was done and the atmosphere of prayer had been finished; my strength was gone because of the energy that had come out of my hands. I literally had to cling to the rail of the bed to keep from falling; and hold to the walls, rails and counters as we exited the building.
All I could do was go home and go to bed. I was exhausted. My energy was spent, but the next day, my brother was fully recovered. He needed none of the medication and the dialysis machines that the doctors thought he would require if he had any chance of survival.
I looked back on that, on the day I heard about his departure; and I was thankful to God that he had been given extra time. I was thankful that God gave him a chance to be restored back to Him, to be restored back to his wife; and to have the beautiful baby girl; their third child and the only one of the three kids that does not have autism.
These are the sorts of thoughts that brought a tear to my eyes. I was grateful that God is a God of second chances. I know that my brother appreciated what he had. That illness was actually a blessing, and it made him realize what's really important. Any thoughts on petty things that he may of had disappeared. He valued his God, his life, and his family.
I have no doubt that he was very fulfilled. The only question I have in my mind is, I'm wondering whether not he felt he had fulfilled his purpose. Then of course, other questions bounce off of that. How do you know when you complete your life's work? Is there only one purpose, or is it possible to move on to a second purpose before your time is up?
Some people believe that we all have a sense of when our time is up. Those that believe this seem to think that the person who has gotten that inner message, doesn't usually let his loved ones know. My question is, if you do get an inner message like that, when do you get it? Is it in the moments of the flashback, just before you go? Or, do you have a lot more time in the notice, as in days? I have no answers. These are just questions that I'm still pondering.
The viewing is on the 11th, and the memorial and burial is on the 12th. After that I'm going to have to figure out how I'm going to deal with the responsibility that is now on my back. It's going to require a great deal of patience. I need prayer. God help me.