It's the anniversary of a terrible day. The day my brother Scott died. 27 years ago. That sounds like forever ago. It IS forever ago. It's a lifetime. I was just a "kid" then, 20 years old and in college. I had just started dating the love of my life.
Scott was just 25. He had 2 tiny kids who were not quite 2 and 3. His diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia came in April 1989. I was living in the dorms at school when my mom called me. I clearly remember standing in our little foyer on the phone (back when phones were connected to the wall with a cord). I remember her saying "the doctor says the average life span with this disease is 6 years." I remember thinking, SIX YEARS? That is just not fair. His kids will still be so young! OMG. What I would have given if the 6 years actually came true....
It was just 2 short months before his body went into a blast crisis....when those horrible immature white blood cells blast through the body, the marrow not even able to make the stuff it needs to make. I remember being alone for a moment in his hospital room. He was intubated and so sick. He began to gag and choke on that tube. I didn't know what to do. I was 20. (Would I even know now, at 47?) I cried and ran out to find a nurse. Why didn't I stay and just comfort him? That's all he needed, to calm down. It's just not fair that he had to go through that. That I had to see it. He died a few days later after being "brain dead" for a time. (A casualty of this is that even now, when people make jokes about being brain dead because they are so tired, this is where my brain goes. To him laying there.)
You know what's really not fair? Since he was 5 1/2 years older than me, with no other siblings between us, we didn't really hang out much as kids. When I entered kindergarten, he was in 6th grade, I think. He was supposed to walk me to school, but as soon as we were out of sight from our house, he would run away. *brothers* He was just so much older, and a boy, and we really had nothing in common as kids. He was also a trouble maker, and I was a good kid. He ran away from home a few times, had trouble with the police. I believe he was 12 when he stole our moms car and went driving.....Not the kind of role model a young girl wants to be with. Sure, there are good memories of Christmas morning and stuff. (Even those Christmases where I knew all my gifts, because he found them and told me, with me in tears.) It's not fair that I don't have 8 million stories about growing up together. Brad and sister can laugh like hyenas for hours about their 8 million stories together. Scott and I just didn't have a lot of that.
Fast forward. He gets married. He has some kids. And he becomes a great dad! He was still a partier and was by no means an angel. But he really seemed to enjoy being a dad. I was in college and we started actually talking. Like 2 adults. I still remember when he called me for the first time EVER, I was in that same foyer at my dorm, and he called me to say hi. He told me about being excited for a new job. I was getting my mom's old car, and was giving him my old car (OK I was the spoiled one.) He was excited for that. He asked me questions about my car which of course I didn't know the answers to. "Um, it's white." I remember that feeling SO clearly to this day, being so uplifted that he actually LIKED me. I always knew he loved me. But now, we were peers. We were adults. We were becoming friends. He liked me!
Thankfully he met Brad. Sometimes it's easy to focus on who didn't get to meet a departed loved one. He never knew my kids. Hell, he never knew HIS kids. They were just babies. He never knew their kids....his grandkids. He has 9 of them! NOT FAIR. But what a blessing that even though he didn't get to know Brad very well, they did know each other for a couple of months.
These days, my "it's not fair" tantrums in my head are all about my parents. He isn't here to help us with this phase of life. Quite frankly, it's a shitty phase. Dementia is so horrible. Why isn't Scott here to help? Make a place in HIS basement for our dad? Hold my mom while she cries, because while his body is still here, she has completely lost her soul mate? Why can't he be here to talk to our dad and try to convince him to turn that TV down before I lose my mind? Why isn't he here to help Brad put locks on the doors to the furnace room, the electric panel, the sump pump because our dad likes to "fix" things? Why isn't he here to help our dad with the catheter he had? Why isn't he here to just LIKE me again? Chat on the phone? Laugh that our dad brings out his talking Yoda toys to anyone who comes in his room, like a toddler?
Brad's step Dad and his Dad both passed away very recently. It's so sad, of course, and while I loved them both, too, his pain is different. He has his sister to talk to about that, to share those memories, to discuss what to do to help their mom and step mom make it. Insurance calls. Banking. Financial planning. I take a backseat because it's not my place. Brad helps me a TON with all of my parents stuff. I mean, he is a saint. Truly. But it's not fair that I don't have Scott here to bounce ideas off of. To drive to the hospital when my dad has issues. To take turns. I don't know if it feels this way for people who are only children. I imagine not. Lately I have just been having a big ole pity party that it's NOT FAIR that he left me alone in this. I need someone else who has to deal with this crap with me. I need my brother.
The pain of losing him is no longer with me every day. I mean, 27 years is a long time. It's not raw. I rarely have those moments now, those split seconds where I think of something I need to tell him. If you have ever lost someone, you know what I am talking about. Time does help heal, for sure. And I will get through all of this with Brad, my girls, my Mom, lots of friends and family. I just wish I had Scott to lean on as well.