Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Remembering my brother 4 years later

Ugh...it's that time of year again where I get to decide how I'm going to honor my brother's memory in a way that does him justice and allows me to let it all hang out. What I've learned over the course of this blog is that sometimes my message is repetitive but then again, the flipside of that is that I get to see the themes that run through my life and how I've coped along the way.

It's an interesting exercise....honoring the dead. Because I always fear that I've somehow overdone it, exposed too much, done too little and alienated those closest to me in the process. But, I always come back to the fact that this helps me (and even some of you) so I plough on through and carry on my way.

Four years later, my brother's death has been permanently intertwined into every aspect of my life. It was a catalyst for an incredible amount of personal growth for me that was complicated by the loss of my mother, the deconstruction of my family and the dismantling of my childhood home. Some days, I don't know where to put it all. I am not a compartmentalizer. I am a woman with few boundaries of the heart and yet I have many walls. It's a bizarre feeling.

Given all that has transpired since June 30, 2009, it is hard for me to really put a finger on what it is I want to say at this point. I am angry and grateful at the same time. I am happier than I probably have ever been amidst an incredible amount of sadness. I am more of who I was ever knew I could be and still wonder "Is this really what it is all about?"

I guess all I've ever wanted people to know is who my brother really was. Because in many respects, he was a caricature to many of those who claimed to know him. You really don't know someone until those very quiet moments in your life that you only share with a select few. My brother and I didn't select each other but we had moments people will never know about. And no blog or story will ever capture them for what they really were. And yet, I continue to try.

I have told so many stories over the past few years. And they always seem to fall short. How do you try to capture someone at the core of who they really were, not who everyone thought they were? I have talked about Live Aid and the other concerts. I have talked about my college graduation, my wedding, my divorce and those last few days. I have told stories of being a little kid with a much older brother who literally handed me my love of music and words and lyrics and humor. A brother who infuriated me and who I felt compelled to protect. A brother I infuriated and who felt compelled to protect me. But they still fall short.

What I want people to know is this. It sucks to lose a sibling in a way only those of you who have been there can truly understand. The feelings it brings up are not the ones you will or have experienced when you lose a parent. They just aren't. Your sibling is a mirror in which you will see all of the good and all of the bad as long as you are willing to look. You will see yourself in that person and feel simultaneously proud and disgusted. But what you are looking at is the truth. It's the truth in them and the truth in you. And it is worth it. And you will learn to love that person in a way that you weren't able to when they were here on earth. And that's okay. Because we all want to count our blessings while we are here but rarely do. That's human. That's what makes us real.

I would rather have learned the hard way then to have never learned at all. I want my brother's life and death to be a gift, not a burden. It's been both. Because you learn. With every goodbye, you learn.