When the news came about the capture and killing of Bin Laden, I remembered that the day that the Twin Towers fell, my mother was visiting her sister in New York City. She was scheduled to come back home the following day but ended up spending another ten days in NYC. I remember my late brother wanting to get in his car to drive to NYC and pick her up just to make sure she was safe since we did not have contact with her until a couple days after the attacks. My sisters and I would not let him go because they were limiting travel in and out of NYC that first day and for several days thereafter. We told him that he just had to wait. I think about all the history that has happened in the past few months, the end of dictatorship in Egypt, the protesting for democracy in other Middle Eastern countries, the Japanese and New Zealand earthquakes, the wedding of Prince William, and this last big event – justice for the 9/11 victims, I realize how fast time flies and how much has happened in the past few months since my brother has been gone. Sadly, life goes on.
I know that none of these stories would have mattered to him if he were alive because he never paid no attention to politics, news of violent or tragic events, or even entertainment gossip, but the fact that life goes on after someone dies is so hard for me to grasp sometimes. Everything I do and everything that changes in my own life, I wish he was alive to know about it. It is getting close to five months since we lost him. They only put his gravestone down a week ago. Someone told me once that losing a loved one is pain that lasts a lifetime and I know all too well how true that statement is. I grieved for 15 years for my father and I only stopped grieving when we lost my brother. When I lost my dad, I was 19 and I really needed in my life. When my brother died, it was different.
I tried to convince myself that the cancer would not win even though we knew that he was terminal. I did everything I could to get him the help he needed so the cancer wouldn’t win and I did everything to ease his mind when it came to the hospital stay and medical billing, finding answers, trying to give him hope, and even dealing with his financial affairs. I did everything I could to ease his mind so that all he could focus on was getting better. The moment when it finally hit me that he wasn’t going to win his fight was the worst moment of my life. I hadn’t prepared myself for it because I really wanted to believe that the cancer wouldn’t win. When the doctors told us that his fight would be over in a matter of hours, I felt like I had failed him and sometimes, I still feel like I did. No matter how many times I remind myself that I did do everything I could, I still have moments where I doubt myself.
That is why my brother’s death hurts differently than my dad’s death. I needed my Dad whereas I felt that my brother needed me. I was his big sister and all I wanted to do was protect him. As for my grief, I had forgotten that death is a painful and sad experience for those of us left behind to mourn. I had forgotten that the pain would last for a lifetime. I had forgotten the grief that I felt after losing my dad when I lost my brother. I was too busy grieving my brother’s death to realize that I still missed my Dad and how I much I needed him as I was grieving my brother’s death. See, they may be gone from our lives, but they are never forgotten.
I think it is even harder when I remember how short life really is and how quickly it moves on once we have lost someone. The people that mourned and paid their respects eventually went home and it was those of us closest to him that continued to feel his loss. It is a process and every day, the emotions are still there. When I have one of those moments where I am reminded how life still goes on despite the death of a loved one, I count my blessings. I am reminded that despite my loss, I am still very blessed and I have and always will have the grace of God on my side.