“Some people don’t believe in heroes. But they haven’t met my brother.” Author unknown.
Today is my brother’s birthday. Sadly, he is not here to celebrate. He was ripped from our lives almost four years ago when a drunk driver smashed head on into his van as he was driving home from work. It has taken a lot to come to grips with his sudden (and needless) passing. I miss him. He was so generous, kind, and funny. He loved really, really bad jokes (the kind that makes me groan out loud). He was born two and a half years after me and he, my sister, and I were constant companions. We fought like crazy at times, competing often, but always we knew we had one another’s backs. The day he was killed was a terrible shock. Days like today that represent a special occasion tend to deliver aftershocks. Grief knows no deadlines. Yet, I can smile as well remembering the hero he truly was to me and to many others. The world has been lessened tremendously by his loss. On his birthday, and on the anniversary of his death especially, I think of all the people who continue to drink and drive and I wonder if it matters to them. That risk they take that has the potential to inflict so much pain. Distracted driving, whether through impairment due to drugs or alcohol, or through texting while driving kills so many people every single day. And so, to honor my brother, this is my small attempt to bring awareness. On that day, that horrible day, so many lives were forever changed. And I beg you to never, ever drink and drive.
There have been a series of setbacks in my life, but the one I have been most affected by was the sudden and preventable death of my brother, Chris. Since his death I have done my best to honor his memory and have written a lot about Chris, the impact his passing has had on my life and the struggles with grief since then. I don’t know if every family is the same, but for me, personally, the bond formed in childhood is a life-long bond that even death cannot erase. And so I have been playing with the words grief and grieving and have found this acronym for “grieve” to be true:
When your heart is ripped open and the wound goes deep into your soul it becomes very difficult to get through the days. And each experience of grief triggers every single past experience with other loved ones. Like some kind of heinous dominoe effect each fresh bereavement carries with it the ability to marshal forth every memory of pain ever experienced. So in my experience it is very important to be incredibly gentle with yourself as you traverse the minefields of grief. Grief can make you feel a little crazy and definitely off balance. Here is what grief, as an acronym, means to me:
Round (and round)
I miss my brother. We all do. I hope that sharing my grief and pain helps others going through similar circumstances know they are not alone. May everyone going through the turmoil of grief be healed and know the love and comfort of family members and friends. I know mine have helped me tremendously.
He ain’t heavy – he’s my brother!
That song plays in my head a lot. It’s a tough week. I am keeping my siblings and especially Chris’s children close to my heart. I worry about them all and hope they are given all they need each and every day. It’s like an uphill battle against ferocious winds getting through these days of court dates and new testimony from witnesses – and I am not even there physically! I cannot imagine how tough this is for my teen-aged niece. I love her so much. I text with her every day to let her know I am thinking of her and her brother as they travel this arduous journey.
We cannot know the lessons we may learn from such an experience, but I hope that in the end it will enlighten us, inspire us, and make us all better people. Please. God, let it make us better and not bitter.