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2 April 2019 (Tuesday)
I apologize in advance for this post. There's nothing you, or I, or anyone can do about it. I'm just feeling more overwhelmed than I should about something and I'm hoping some rambling and venting will help. You... whoever you are who may be reading this today or in the future... are the lucky recipients.
My youngest brother phoned me today to tell me that our other brother, the middle one, Dan, died suddenly this morning. Nobody knows much yet. He apparently keeled over early in the morning. The people he was living with called an ambulance, but he either died or was pronounced dead at the hospital.
It's not a complete surprise - my brother has led quite a life, with alcohol and other substances playing a big part. His wife left him a several years ago, he let himself spiral out of control, lost his job, lost his house, and has been living with friends for the past year or so. The last times I tried to call him he didn't answer. He had pretty much cut off contact with everybody, except occasionally calling my mom or my dad to ask for money.
But it's still a shock. Your little brother isn't supposed to die. Your little brother certainly isn't supposed to die as a homeless, middle-aged guy.
And even though he obviously isn't... wasn't... a little kid anymore, and looked even older than his early fifty-something years, whenever I picture him in my mind, I picture the kid who was nine or ten years old.
We have not been in close contact for years, for decades even. But it's still hitting me harder than I would have expected.
One of the more fun things I have done over the past few years was to go on a hike in Canada we called the "Pillar of Darkness Expeditions." Prior to the second "Pillar of Darkness Expedition" in 2015, my wife and I stopped in Oregon to visit my parents and relatives. At that time my brother was still semi-sociable. Since he was in to camping and fishing and stuff, I asked him if he knew where to get kerosene lanterns for our upcoming hike to an ice cave. He said, "try Wally's (meaning Walmart), they usually have 'em." A couple of the lanterns and the lamp oil I brought on that trip were from Walmart per my brother's suggestion. He also shared with me at that time a story I had not heard, about he and a couple of friends getting trapped in a lava tube cave in Eastern Oregon for two days by a rock slide.
One of the lanterns I carried on those cave hikes came from my mom's house. It's one that we had when we were kids and took on one camping trip.
I'm not even sure why I'm sharing this on here. I don't mean to be a "bummer train" or anything. I'm more broken up than I would have expected to be, and I just feel a need to unload.
I haven't been what you'd call close to my brother since we became adults. Our lives took totally different paths. But all the "good memories" are flooding back from when we were kids and when we got along, and I'm missing that little kid. And I'm wishing I had tried harder to reach out over the past several years... or over the past several decades... and maybe tried sharing some of those memories from when we were kids to help him get back on track with his life. I know, realistically, it would probably not have done much good.
So yeah, I'm not expecting any "I'm sorry for your loss" kind of words. I mean, harsh as it looks to see in print, since I rarely spoke with him or saw him, his being gone won't really affect my day to day life at all.
But I'm realizing, today, when it's too late, how often I thought about him. How often I remembered stuff we did when we were kids. I was just randomly thinking a couple of days ago, as an example, of a hamburger joint we used to go to once in a while with my grandparents that claimed to serve "the world's largest hamburger," and I was laughing remembering that my brother, when he was nine or ten, insisted that he could eat one by himself... and he did it!
And then I'd think, whenever a memory like that popped into my head, "I should probably try calling him again," even though the last times I called he didn't answer.
Oh, and believe me, he was no angel. He's been a full-on asshole jerk to almost everyone in the family for a lot of years. But he could also be funny, smart, charming, and kind. You just never knew what you were going to get from him.
I'm realizing that there is a complex web of reasons why I'm taking this pretty hard: old memories, shoulda-coulda-mighta-done thoughts, experiences he and I shared that nobody else in the world who's still alive would remember or care about.
My youngest brother is six years younger. We don't have as much in common. For example, he has said that he doesn't even really remember my grandpa. He was too young to remember a lot of the stuff my middle brother and I did together, the games we played... you know, a million zillion things.
A million zillion things that are flooding back to me today, many of which I haven't thought of in years, and most of which nobody in the world knows or cares about except for me.
This doesn't make me special. Every one of the seven billion people on the planet has unique experiences and memories they've shared with other people that only they know or care about. And when the other people are gone, there's a real sense of... loneliness, I guess. Like you're the only one left who <i>knows!</i> Who could ever possibly <i>understand.</i>
There's a real sense of loss.
For example, my mom, of course, still remembers her parents, and remembers them when they became grandparents to us kids. But my brother and I, we are... were... the only ones who remember things we did with our grandpa, who died when I was in high school. Now that my brother is gone, I'm the only one who remembers my grandpa as being my grandpa, if that makes sense. So it's like, as we die off, the older generation, who live only in our memories, dies off, too.
My mom seems to be holding it together so far, but it's only been less than a day. My mom has been having a hard time of it lately, emotionally. She was an only child, so she hasn't lost siblings. But she's remained close to most of her friends from her high school years, and they've been disappearing at a rapid pace. All of her close friends but one are already gone. So she's losing all those shared memories. I don't even know how she's gonna react when the reality of my brother dying kicks in. I think she's still in an emotionally dispassionate denial phase. Maybe her practical way of looking at the world will see her through.
I have to stop now.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
dblume
Apr. 3rd, 2019 06:24 pm (UTC)
Hey David, you do have our condolences. I really do understand your thoughts about the existence of those memories. I've had thoughts like that, too. I'm glad that you bother to share.

You've left a impression with my kids. They'll remember their visit with you for the rest of their lives, and you've taken one of my all-time favorite photos of my daughter. While some things do last longer than others, this, too, shall pass.
davidd
Apr. 3rd, 2019 07:15 pm (UTC)
Thank You
Thank you for your thoughts on this. I'm having a tough time of it today. I'm still in the "counting the hours" stage, thinking that one day and two hours ago, my brother was still alive. I am not wanting to believe that he is gone; and while I know he is, I do not want it to be true. I think facing a sudden death of somebody close must be one of the most intense feelings of powerlessness it is possible to have.

I know that you had the unexpected and sudden loss of your father not too long following your trip to Hawaii. And your father was still seriously grieving the loss of your mother during that trip. Jeannie had a long chat with your dad, and she still mentions him once in a while.

I think about that visit with your kids (who are no longer little kids) from time to time. Our nephew and his wife visited us here in Utah recently with their three kids (ages 11, 14, and 17), and it reminded me of your visit to Hawaii as we went out to the southern Utah parks and climbed on rocks and hiked trails. No sand crabs, though.

I appreciate your kind thoughts. Thank you.
sjonsvenson
Apr. 4th, 2019 11:51 pm (UTC)
*hug*
Memories are strange things.
They totally disappear, covered up, snowed under by newer more relevant info. To bubble up years later with unexpected clarity.

Maybe you can share some of your memories with your mom later. And with the other brother, he'll probably have some stories you don't know.
davidd
Apr. 5th, 2019 04:15 am (UTC)
Re: *hug*
Thank you.

Things I have not thought about in decades are emerging from nowhere, and as you say, with crystal clarity. It is almost overwhelming. The past two days have been very hard to bear.

Has my brother really been gone... dead... for two and a half days? (Two days 11 hours as of this very moment.)

I cannot believe that he is gone. Gone forever.

I was planning on making a point, no matter what it took, of seeing him this coming July, when we have a trip to my home town planned. It never occurred to me that he would not be there. It never occurred to me that he might die.

He was my younger brother!

There were so many things I wanted to say to him. Now that this has happened, even more things have come bubbling out of my deeply buried memories, many of which leave me feeling unbearably sad. So many things I wanted to apologize for. So many things I wanted to explain. So many things I wanted to set right. So many things I wanted him to explain from his point of view.

But mostly, so many happy, fun times to reminisce over.

How could that cute little boy from all those years ago be gone?

And why couldn't I, the older brother, have taken better care of him, so that he would still be here today? Isn't it an older brother's job to help his little brother, no matter how old they are?

Why didn't I do something about this before it was too late? I have thought about some of these things, off and on, over many years. But I almost never acted on any of it.

And now it's too late. Far too late.

I'm having a very difficult time coping with this. Maybe that means I'm weak. I don't know. But as the reality become more real with each passing day, it become more of a reality that I cannot seem to accept.

Thank you for your kind words and thoughts. I appreciate it very much.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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