I told myself that I wasn’t going not cry anymore. Today is August 17th, 2020 exactly one month of my brother’s death and I still can’t come to accept that I will go to his house and he will not be there. I still can’t imagine a life that he is not physically a part of. I can’t come to grasp that I will never hear his laugh again. Loss is such an incredibly hard feeling but, this is my brother. My brother died and he is no longer going to pick up the phone or greet me at his house when I go over for holiday celebrations, or get to bond with my daughter. He’s just gone now. He left me with this heavy whole that doesn’t seem like it will heal any time soon.
I know time is the best healer. I know that it will get easier one day, but that day is not today or tomorrow or next week. Two days prior to his passing, my dad called me and was crying uncontrollably because they had rushed him to the hospital. I’d never heard much less seen my dad cry in my 27 years of life. It was that day that I started feeling guilty. Guilty for not picking up my brother’s calls, for not replying to that text, for not going over to his place or inviting him to mine more often, for not having my daughter see her uncle more. Thousands of thoughts ran through my head of all the things I could of done to prevent him from being there and that’s when the lessons began.
So, a bit of background. My brother was an alcoholic. He had been living with this problem for years and I mean what individual doesn’t start drinking at 16, 17, 18 and on. Except that for him it stopped being for fun a long time ago. It slowly was building in to this life sucking illness. Something that he just couldn’t function without anymore and was sadly slowly killing him alive.
The first lesson he taught me was, don’t ignore the signs. We have lived in east San Diego since 1996 but my brother loved going up north to a city called Encinitas to party and drink with his friends. It’s a good 35 miles away from where we lived (when we both lived at home with our parents) and it was one night after drinking one too many he decided to drive home that he had a horrible car accident. After seeing how demolished his car was and he didn’t even have a scratch we couldn’t believe how he managed to survive that trip. Now we know it was because of the grace of God, but that was the first sign. The sign that the drinking was getting reckless and out of control. The sign that should of sufficed to push him harder or seek the reasoning behind such heavy drinking. but instead it was seen as simple immaturity. TALK to your loved ones, let them know they can trust you and you can be as much as good listener if that is all it takes. Be there, always!
The second lesson he taught me was to ask questions and dig deep. I’d say that 99% of the time there is a reason for behavior and a lot of times we avoid those difficult conversations because we may not know what to say. My grandmother used to say, “you can’t cover up the sun with one finger” meaning no matter how much your try to bury something the truth will come out. My brother had a rough upbringing. He was not my mother’s biological son only my dad’s. His mother didn’t want him and my dad was married to someone else at the time with two other sons from that marriage. My brother was unfortunately left as an outsider a lot. Aside from those rough early years of his life, he was so loved and cared for. He must of had so many mixed feelings, anger, resentment, loneliness, confusion, so many unanswered questions. So many things WORTH talking about to relieve the soul. But so much of that was just buried or justified and perhaps huge contributors to his drinking.
The third and perhaps most valuable lesson was act now. Don’t wait or hesitate to anything when it comes to your loved ones. Whether it’s your friends or family member, tell them you love them, pick up their phone calls, text them back, hug them, help them when you can, act right away because that person may not have until the end of your shift or the weekend. If you feel it, say it. I would say, a week before his passing, I was posting on my Instagram stories about a coffee I had just purchased and very rarely I check who watches my stories but for some reason that day I did and saw my brother was one of the first people to see them. I remember thinking that day, ‘I will text him’ but then my work phone rang and got busy and eventually forgot. A week later he passed and I hadn’t spoken to him in over a month.
In my person relationship there’s been a struggle of alcohol use as well from my partner. At times my brother would call and he would be drunk and not make much sense. So I stopped answering from time to time because at times I felt that I couldn’t handle dealing with two intoxicated people. I regret that SO much to this day. Because I have some experience and the opportunity to learn about the alcoholic illness and acquired resources, I out of all people should of picked up the phone, went to physically pick him up and take him to a smart meeting, helped him more! I cry through out the day at times because I can’t let go of the ‘what if?’ I keep wondering, asking myself if he would be here if I would of just acted sooner. I will never know now and all I have left is to learn from this and act differently in the future.
It’s very hard for me to assimilate that it had to come to this for my eyes to be fully opened and learn 3 things that seem so simple but even after his passing he continues to teach me valuable life lessons. My brother was such a great human being. He was very loving, caring, hard working, family oriented, and supportive. He was a friend, he was funny, always looking at life from a positive scope, highly encouraging to those around him… his departure really left me and so many more people hear broken.
I highly encourage you to think about these three things and see if there’s some opportunities for improvement in your life. My brother’s death is incredibly hard but I find some comfort in knowing that he is somehow watching over me and he is truly resting now. He has no more pain, he is not haunted and dominated by that horrible illness of alcoholism and that we will see each other again one day and he’ll hug me and we’ll be alright. Life without him will not be the same, our sushi dates with dad will never compare to those with him but he will forever live in our hearts and memories. HUG, LOVE, CHERISH AND REMIND PEOPLE AROUND YOU HOW MUCH YOU CARE, ALWAYS.
Till’ the next post!