I have some friends that haven’t known me for very long. I have some friends that have known me for what seems like forever.
Everyone that knows me should know this one thing. I have a brother and 19 years ago today he died. But more importantly, he lived. He lived and he was loved. He was loved by me and so many more. He lived and he was loved.
I want my kids to know him the way I did, but it’s been so long that I’m starting to forget.
I was snuggling with my girl the other night making funny faces and I showed her Uncle Danny’s favorite funny face. I wish so much that he was here to show her. This is the best I can do. Funny faces, funny sayings, and stories. But the memories, they fade.
My brother Dan as a baby and his nephew Theo. A slight resemblance there, huh?
I have a friend who very recently lost her own brother. We were in Vermont watching the Olympics together as Bode Miller broke down on TV about the loss of his brother. And there we were, the three of us, crying for our brothers. She and I talked for a while about our brothers. It was sad, but also nice. I think we both appreciated the space to talk about them without fear that we would upset someone or say the wrong thing. I understand her. I have been where she is.
I don’t get to talk about him much with new friends. It’s an odd thing to bring up and most just quickly move the conversation along. Fair enough.
But he is a part of the person I am today. His death is a part of the person I am today. If he had not died I would not be same person that I am right now. Had he not lived I would be no where near the person I am today. He was and is my brother.
I’m writing this not for a chorus of “I’m sorry” or “Hugs” (not that I won’t take them), but just so that you know he lived and he was loved. If you don’t know me that well maybe you didn’t know I had a brother.
Well I’m here to tell you I have a brother. His name is Daniel, Dan, Danny, Bean. He lived and he was loved.
I saw someone that looks like my brother today. It always stops me in my tracks. Always. It makes my heart beat faster. I start having crazy thoughts.
He was hunched over at the liquor store doing some stocking. He had the same color wispy greasy hair. A spotty beard that wasn’t quite filled in. A nose to big for his face. He looked up at me, undoubtably because he could feel me staring at him.
Sure enough his eyes were blue. Not the same beautiful blue, but blue enough to make me avert my own eyes and awkwardly fumble with my wallet.
I watched him walk away, bought my wine, and ran out. I jumped into the van and sighed. I tell my husband. He says “Imagine that?” And then he didn’t finish his thought.
Whether he thought better of it or whether one of the kids interrupted I don’t know. I was barely able to hear anything besides my heart pounding in my ears. But he was right not to venture down that thought rabbit hole with me. It never ends well.
He’s gone. And you’d think that 18 years later it wouldn’t pain my heart so much in moments like that. But it does, and it always will.
“Grief is the price we pay for love.” ~Queen Elizabeth.
My children are playing together quietly in the other room. I hear them whispering to each other. They are playing nicely.
They are 6, 4 & 2. This doesn’t happen often. The quiet playing nicely thing. I have a minute so I thought I’d write.
I have gone quiet since last Friday. Since Newtown. Since the shooting. It has weighed so heavily on my heart, there are moments I can’t even bear it. There are many posts in my head that relate to it but I can’t get them out right now. I probably won’t.
There is a post about grief and the holidays. My brother died when I was 23 and the holidays are fraught with mixed emotions.
There is a post about losing a child so quickly. I was living at home when my brother died and, apart from my own grief, watching my parents go through theirs was just about the most awful thing I have ever experienced.
There is a post about guns. I don’t have toy guns in my house. My oldest has asked Santa for a Nerf gun. I told him that Santa knows Mommy doesn’t like toy guns. He’s still hopeful. My friend’s husband is a State Trooper, my BIL is in the army. There are actual guns in their houses. I get it. I bought my nephew a gift card for paint ball for Christmas. Now I can’t give it to him. I can’t.
There is a post about teachers. No there actually is a post about teachers. Please honor your teachers everyday. They deserve it.
There is a post about mortality. When I was a kid I was so afraid that my parents would die and leave me. I felt it so acutely that I remember it to this day. We have a very large family and I had been to a bunch of funerals at a young age. It was terrifying to me.
There is a post about my decision to have children because it was a decision. Watching what my parent’s went through after we lost Dan was something I was positive I didn’t want to go through. The easiest way to ensure that was just to not have them right. Oy.
So there are many and I can’t write any of it. I am too jumbled and now I have the flu. The other night I took something for it that made me stay up instead of fall asleep. I kept thinking about Newtown and those teachers and those 6 year olds.
My baby is six.
If that young man had come into my baby’s classroom he would have been excited to see him. Cool he’s dressed like an army guy! He has a gun! And then…I couldn’t shake that thought and still can’t. My baby wouldn’t have run for cover if he saw him. It a grotesque and awful thought that will not leave my head.
It’s all just too much. There is so much in the news about it. The funerals, gun control, the NRA, mental health, guns for teachers and on and on. I can’t turn it on until late because I still haven’t told my oldest – the six year old, about it. I am praying that he doesn’t hear it over the holiday. I decided that he doesn’t need to know it until he needs to know it. There is so much awful in the world and I need to present it to him in doses. This particular brand of awful can wait a bit.
There is also so much good in the world. SO much.
The support that Newtown has received in the week after is nothing short of incredible. People from all over the country and all over the world are reaching out to them. But also we’re reaching out locally and in our own homes. People are performing 26 random act of kindness (#26RAK) to honor those lost. We need to be supportive in our communities and loving in our homes, always. Not just in moments of madness.
And then there’s that. We have to stop the madness…but that’s another post as well.
They are whispering about Santa now. About what they might get.
My heart is full of love and it aches for those families in Newtown that have one less whisper, one less patter down the stairs, one less shriek of delight at the presents that Santa brought. For those that don’t celebrate it’s just another day without their babies another day that they muster the will to go on for their other children, because they need them. They need each other. For those families that lost grown children, the love of their life, or their mother on that awful day they try to figure out how to move through the world without them.
I will light a candle for your babies and for you and wish you peace, Newtown. We all do.
I would love it if you would light a candle for them too. Give just a moment to think of them and then go on and have a wonderful day with your families. Honor them well by honoring your own. Peace.
On Friday afternoon before I picked up N at school, I sent an email off to his teachers. His current 1st grade teacher and his Kindergarten teacher from last year.
I was feeling overwhelmed by the news of the shooting in Newtown and just profoundly sad. Also, thankful. I am thankful for the teachers my child has had so far. We moved to this town for the schools and I have not been disappointed.
Vanessa & David (and all teachers)
So you know it will take everything in my power not to jump out of my van and hug the two of you. A huge squeezy hug with lots of tears and thanks for being who you are. I don’t want to scare the kids with my crazy.
I am so sad that part of your job is keeping my baby safe, and yourselves for that matter. I just want to let you know that I appreciate you so much. Your job just got harder and for that I am sorry.
Peace and love,
It’s not much and I could never appropriately convey my thanks or sadness on that day, but I tried.
David came bounding down the hill at pickup saying “Don’t worry, I’ll come to you!” and we hugged :-). Vanessa was away on Friday and just wrote to me that she wants so badly to see her kindergarteners. They are wonderful people as well as teachers.
So tomorrow, if you would… leave a note, send an email, give a hug. Just give thanks and a little bit of love to your teachers and administrators. They’re going to have a difficult day.
Seventeen years ago today was the worst day of my entire life. I hope that it stays at number one and nothing surpasses it, because I don’t think I could handle it. My brother died on March 19, 1995. His name is Daniel, Dan, Danny, Bean.
This post is a blatant attempt to have you make me feel better. Here’s how it works, I am going to post a picture of my brother and I want you to caption it. If you knew him make me remember him. If you didn’t, tell me something to make me laugh. That was one of his goals in life – to make me laugh.
I loved him so much and miss him terribly. Today I want to wallow in happiness for having known him, not grieve for something I can’t change. Help me won’t you? Enter the caption contest! You will only win my undying love, but that’s enough right?
Here it is
Here I’ll start it out and add as I think of them.
This handwriting is from notes between my brother and I almost 17 years ago. Before texting and twitter and facebook, before cell phones, for goodness sake. People wrote each other notes.
I’ve saved these seemingly innocuous notes because 3 days later he was gone. He was having surgery the next day, hence the “see you when you wake up.” He died three days later.
I have a random assortment of my brother’s things. The handwriting is special for some reason that I can’t quite explain.
As I was going through my memory box the pictures of him we’re making me so sad. Partly because I just miss him. Partly because I also realize I am starting to forget him. Forget what he looks like. I find myself looking at the pictures skeptically.
I don’t have the same reaction to his handwriting. I have cards and some of his journals and they comfort me. The scratches of ink on paper soothe me. Maybe because it’s a not so jarring reminder of his absence, rather a soft affirmation of his existence at all.