My brother would have turned 32 on Saturday. As many of you know, we lost him on December 20, 2010. That was the day his battle with peritoneal mesothelioma ended. It is going on seven months without him and we are still grieving. I suppose there is no timetable for grieving but losing a sibling is like losing the past and the future all at once. It is also like losing a limb; it’s a part of you will never get back.
When someone is a part of your life as long as you can remember, your identity is based on having them there. They are a part of what defines you and they offset you through their similarities and differences. Siblings loan each other strengths and when one dies, that strength is lost. That strength is what we as surviving siblings identify with. You have to learn to live your life without that strength and it is like having to grow through the grieving process.
Then, there is the loss of the future. You have not only lost your sibling but you have lost the future you thought would have had with them. You go on with your life and you always realize that your sibling is not there. Every event in your life matters and you wish your sibling was there to know about it.
Sometimes, I feel guilty that he is gone and I am still here. I don’t understand why it was him and not me or anyone else. I know that I have nothing to feel guilty about but I just do. There are times where I also wonder if there was anything I could have done to change the outcome. Could I have pushed him to visit the doctor more often or could I have talked to him more often so I would have known about his symptoms early on? Again, I am not sure that it would have mattered but it is my way of wishing I could just turn back time to a year ago when he was still here with us.
I have been trying to lean to God when I am feeling like this. I feel helpless despite the fact I truly understand that he is gone. It feels like nothing really matters any more even though I know that a lot goes. When we were kids and even adults, we loved and hated each other at the same time. That feeling is normal for siblings but it does not mean that wishing that you could have done something different doesn’t make you feel so helpless.
I want more than anything to understand what happened even though the answer isn’t that easy. All any of us want is answers. The truth is – we may never have answers. How my brother, who never worked in an asbestos related industry, was exposed to asbestos is unknown. How come he developed the disease and not anyone else? See, asbestos cancers are, in a way, man-made cancers. The only way to get mesothelioma is through direct exposure with asbestos.
My brother’s ordeal isn’t one I want to remember but because there is a lawsuit, I have to remember it. I remember those days sitting at my computer after coming home from hospital and just typing because I knew that if I didn’t do that, I would forget. Who would want to remember? I posted a page that you can get to from the tabs above talking a little about my brother, his diagnosis, and his passing away. I also included links to the posts I wrote while he was going through this ordeal.
I want what happened to my brother not to be brushed away as if it wasn’t significant. When I made a decision to start writing about his illness, I didn’t know that he would pass away nor did I know that my family would be filing a lawsuit. I just knew that his story had to be told. Even though his story isn’t any different than others who died from peritoneal mesothelioma, it was unique to him and to our family. At the time, I just knew that I had to find a way to remember and if I did that the best way I knew how. I wrote about it. I didn’t know that it would be the way that I could speak up for him or honor his memory.
My brother didn’t deserve what happened to him and his family is entitled to answers. Moreover, my brother would want me to make something positive out of this experience. If I can educate one person or help one family to understand this disease if they are stricken with it, then my brother’s death would not have been in vain. See, I am an advocate, that’s all I know to do.