It’s been twenty years today. Twenty years since my little brother died. He died suddenly and unexpectedly at the beautiful young age of 32.
There are moments in your life that fade away. There are moments in your life that are branded on your psyche. The day my brother died is the latter. I remember this day clearly and rewind it often like a slow motion movie in my head.
From the very beginning everyone, myself included, asked why? Why so young? Why so sudden? Why?
It took a long time, but I slowly began to see some of the lessons from losing someone you love so young in their promising life.
I remember wandering around in a daze for months during the first year after the tragedy just wishing things would go back to normal. Until one day it hit me. This was the new normal and I wasn’t going to be able to move on until I accepted it.
Lesson learned – finding the new normal is the first step in dealing with any difficult change and learning to accept and become comfortable in the new normal is healthy.
Everyone reacts differently when someone dies. I watched a wide range of reactions to my brother’s death from anger to deep depression. For me, I just tried to keep things upbeat for my kid’s sake, despite how I was feeling inside. My kids were little and scared and sad and I knew they needed me to be strong. I’m convinced my ability to hold it together during this time was one of the best things I ever did as a parent.
Lesson learned – everything you do and say when pushed to your emotional limits affects someone who is watching, particularly impressionable little ones.
I know my brother knew something was wrong with him, but doctors couldn’t pinpoint anything definitive. Until the day his heart stopped. But of course it was too late. I believe in intuition, but it’s a learned skill to really grasp the meaning of it. My brother was probably too young. He was under pressure and stress at work and he put off finding the right doctor and the right answers.
Lesson learned – listen to your body. Listen to your intuition. Listen.
My brother would be 52 years old if he were still with us. But he is forever 32 – forever young, handsome and full of life and adventure. The thing that makes me saddest still is how much he missed in his own future life and in the lives of people who loved him. He would have been a great husband and father. He was a great uncle and brother. I was just really getting to know him as an adult, not as a little brother, when he left us. I think I would have really enjoyed growing old with him. But, I will always think of him as my little brother, 32 years old.
We are all guilty of living a life of making plans – planning for retirement, planning for our next vacation, planning for the weekend. With maturity comes an acute awareness to live and love in the moment
Lesson learned – life is short. Shorter for some more than for others, and none of us get to choose. Get out of bed everyday with gratitude for this moment. Live in the present. Live for today. And if you are lucky enough to live to achieve all those plans, be grateful. Life really is what happens while you are making other plans.
Thanks for the lessons lil bro. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for being my brother. I love you.
Go. Be. Fabulous.