My brother died on Halloween

The anniversary of my brother’s death is approaching. I am reminded of this every Halloween because he passed away on October 31, 2010.

My brother had a hard life that started from a very young age.  He had a learning disability but people didn’t know about those things back then. He was born in 1959 and grew up in the 60s and 70s.  Back then, issues such as my brother’s were ignored.  [If I had to guess,I would say he suffered from a form of what is now known as Asperger  Syndrome or something along those lines. ] Adding to this, he was also nearly blind. He wore the traditional “coke bottle glasses”. His eyesight issues went unrecognized until 1st or 2nd grade(?).  Imagine? Poor kid.  He had a hard time right out of the starting gate.  My parents were ill-equipped to handle my brother’s issues.  They paved a road to Hell with my brother.  Had he been raised by Mrs. Forrest Gump, there’s no telling how his life may have turned out. I suspect a heck of a lot different than it did.  “You’re no different. You’re just like everybody else.”  Sadly, my mother didn’t subscribe to this philosophy.  When your kid was different, you ignored the problem.  My brother was different. As a teenager and young adult, he got into a heap of trouble. Scratch that — heaps of trouble.

His life turned for the better when he got married and became a dad.  If there is one immutable truth about my brother it is: he wanted a family and stability – it was something he always craved because growing up, we never had it. Say what you want about my downtrodden brother but he loved his kids – loved them.  There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for them.  Most people who knew my brother hated him. That was pretty apparent at his funeral too. Those who showed, did so out of respect for my parents, checking their issues with my brother at the door.  Those are good people.  The assholes who couldn’t be bothered to show up (and you know who you are), well you can go *&^%$#@!~^&**%$

My brother was a heavy smoker. I believe he started when he was 13(?).  That’s what killed him, well sort of.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer but it spread to his brain.  Of course, had he had health insurance, he may have been able to receive better care, but he didn’t.  He also didn’t have a home. He was homeless.  He wound up getting divorced, and lost his home to his wife and 3 kids.  He didn’t earn enough money to support 2 households so he lived out of his truck.  We did what we could to help him but the thing about my brother was, if you helped him, you enabled him and he would stop trying and essentially that’s what he did, he stopped trying and gave up.  It wasn’t long after that when he was diagnosed with lung cancer which then spread to his brain. He was dead a year later.

During the funeral, it was gut-wrenching to look at my parents. I swear they both aged 20 years in just a few days.  My father and brother never got along — too much anger and resentment. Sadly, they were never able to clear the air.  The week my brother went into hospice, my dad stood by his bedside every single day. My 82-year-old Korean War Veteran father stood next to my brother’s bed, with his hand on my brother’s forehead as if he was trying through osmosis to have a conversation with my brother — who drifted in and out of consciousness. It was almost as if my father hoped via his touch, he could clear the air between the two of them. A conversation they should have had a long time ago.

The day I received the news my brother was going into hospice, was two days before I was scheduled to have major surgery.  I wound up in the ER, not once, not twice but three times in less than 2 weeks. Two days before my surgery, my brother goes into hospice – can you believe the timing?  Upon waking in recovery (after a five-hour surgery) I learned I needed to have another operation – great. [I’ll spare you the details of my health crisis in 2010.]  I didn’t tell my parents what was going on with me; I couldn’t. They were about to lose one child due to cancer. Imagine if I told them they might lose another? It would have been cruel. So as I said, my brother died on Halloween 2010 and I stood at my brother’s grave, three days post-op on a cold, miserable, rainy November day. It was awful. Not because of my condition but because I had to watch my mother, father, my other brother, an ex-sister-in-law, two nephews and one niece bury a son, a brother, an ex- husband and a father.  Brutal!

I made a promise to myself that every year on the anniversary of my brother death; I would write a post in his memory so as to remind myself that none of us knows how much time we have on this planet. We all think we have oodles of time and often live for the future instead of enjoying the present. Some people sadly enough, live too much in the past. Since my brother’s death and my health crisis I try to focus on the now. I no longer put things off for the future.  If there is something you want to do/try/experience, you should do, whatever it is, NOW – don’t wait. And lastly, if there is someone you want to clear the air with, you should definitely do that now. Don’t put it off, for you may not get the chance. Learn from my father and brother.

GiRRL_Earth October 28, 2012

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20 thoughts on “My brother died on Halloween

    • Hi,
      Thank you. And thank you for checking out my blog. Kevin has an awesome blog and we seem to have the same things in common. I love his gardening stories. 🙂

  1. That’s a very sad story. Two years ago I was at a funeral around the same time too – for my nephew. I am so sorry. Life kicks us in the gut sometimes. Hugs. Take care, thanks for sharing.

  2. I want to wrap you up in a huge hug right now. I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my brother 17 years ago to suicide on April Fools day. It gets easier, but you never stop missing them or thinking about them every day. xx -Somer

      • Missed you at the potluck girl, I talked to Annie and she mentioned you bowed out in advance. I was glad to know that it wasn’t a stressful on the day deal on your part. Hope you are doing well. xoxo

      • Hi Somer!
        I meant to tell you I had to back out. Work has been overwhelmingly busy so I felt I couldn’t devote enough time to VVP. Fearful of holding up the process and/or causing a blip, I bowed out before causing any damage. Perhaps next time, assuming there will be a next time. 🙂

        You have been posting some awesome recipes to which I have printed and am dying to make (when I have time). Question for you: How do you find the time to create all these wonderful recipes, work full time, be a full time mom and run?… I’m begining to feel like an inadequate person. Ha-Ha!

        xx back atcha baby!
        -Susan

      • No worries! I just missed you there, that’s all 😉 Guess what, I’m a stay at home mom and don’t work full time, however this blog is taking 4 or 5 hours a day and now that Vegan MOFO is finished I’m backing way off, I’ll only be posting 1 or 2 days a week. I need to focus more on my family. I love creating good stuff and helping people, but not at the expense of my own sanity 😉 I was overextended this last month and that’s the truth!

    • That must have been awful for you and your parents. Your brother must have been in so much pain that he couldn’t express what was wrong. Of course, during my generation people didn’t talk about those things and medications were not handed out as freely as they are today. I do not recall ever hearing about anti-depressants when I was growing up. Granted, I’m a lot older than you (I’m 45) so maybe it was a different time for your brother — either way, it doesn’t ease the pain of the loss.

      My brother’s death is one of the reasons I created this blog [my health crises was the other]. 2010 was a life-changing year for me and is the main reason why I feel so strongly about not giving into the haters. I refuse to give my power over to anyone. I also refuse to play into someone’s *all knowing stance* about me or my family. Has that ever happened to you, where someone takes an all knowing stance about you as if you belong to them? Well I have and I absolutely REFUSE to give in to it. Those are the haters I am referring to. The haters want nothing more than to tear me and my family down. They are so consumed that they cannot see how they are behaving.

      Also my divorce became final January of this year and would you believe one of the “haters” from our past has come out of the woodwork? The woman was hell-bent on destroying our relationship when we were engaged; she even tried after we were married. Would you believe after 12 years she still cannot let go? I knew it was only a matter of time before she would crawl out from the woodwork once the news of our divorce spread far and wide. When my Ex told me she made contact, I wasn’t surprised. He and I had a very frank discussion about it. He’s not really sure why, after all this time, she felt the need to reach out. But like I said in my post, some people have a difficult time letting go and prefer to hang onto past memories. Thankfully my Ex and I had a very amicable divorce and are best friends. Not a day goes by that we don’t speak on the phone or see each other. Plus, he’s been helping me remodel my home (he’s a licensed contractor).

      With all that said, I wouldn’t change any of what happened in 2010 because I gained a tremendous amount of perspective. I live for me. I live in the now and I cannot recall the last time I was this happy and at peace with myself — it’s taken a long time but I’m finally at a place in my life where I am 100% to-the-very-center-of-my-core HAPPY! 🙂

      Xx
      -Susan

      • Susan, you are a fighter! I’m grateful to call you a friend, plus we’re only 10 years apart, I’m not as young as you think and have siblings your age 😉 I love that you have such a great relationship with your ex!

        Good on you for not giving in to the haters, fortunately I haven’t had to deal with much of that, but it sounds like your an old pro and have it down pact 😉

  3. Very moving and illuminating in the best way. My brother was physically disabled died from opportunistic cancer, at 36, as the result of HIV/AIDS from IV drug use; he lived on the street, in and out of shelters for years but he wasn’t truly homeless because his home was in his heart. We loved him and he loved us and that’s all that matters.
    Thoughtful post, thank you.

    • Dear ElroyJones, thank you for your kind worlds and for stopping by.
      It is painful experiences such as these that shape our views on life. I have a much greater appreciation for life than I did before. I also have a zero tolerance policy for insipid drama. Whenever I see someone stirring the soup, I will remind them to get some perspective.

  4. Pingback: 2012 Year-End Gratitude « GiRRL_Earth

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