Thursday, April 23, 2009

Five Years

Five years ago today my oldest brother, Jerry died.

It's hard for me to believe it's been that long. I've had a bit of trouble remembering the exact day and that's encouraging to me - to know that some of the pain has subsided. His life was sad and tragic and so maybe it's fitting that his death was too. I keep the day written down on a little reminder card and sometimes I'm tempted to erase the date, knowing it will sift away from my mind and that I'd be glad it did. But I don't. So far I make sure I remember.

I still celebrate his birthday every year, taking time to remember the little blue bottle of Evening in Paris cologne he gave me for Christmas one year, making me feel very grown up when I wasn't. How much he loved Montana and hunting and anything outdoors. I take out the one momento I have of him - a photograph he took.

On this day I tend to remember the conversations we had about whatever he was collecting, and him trying to explain to me why he needed so many of one thing. I wasn't ever able to grasp why someone couldn't buy food or pay rent, but they would surround themself with 'things'. Expensive things. Over five years I've come to understand, just a little, that having stuff around him made him feel important and successful and safe. Even though he wasn't.

He was his own worst enemy, but that could be said about most of us now and then.

So he died, left big wounds in our family that are still healing, and taught each of us a lesson or two about life and how to live it.

I decided on the first anniversary of this day to not ignore it, but also not to focus on the raw, aching hurt he must have felt, that he transferred a bit of to each of us who were his family. Not to spend the day being sad, and tragic and hurt all over again. Rather I spend this day each year celebrating life itself, it's ups and downs. Life that somedays feels like it's going to wash over me with it's intricacies and difficulties and hurts, but also can bring me to tears with no notice, just thinking on the beauty of it - the physical beauty all around, but mostly the beauty of those around me. That old person who shows great bravery just by getting out of bed for another day. The mom who is single and raising kids and barely hanging on, or maybe not single but in an empty relationship, or worse. That dad who is wondering how to support his family. Young couples, hand in hand as they cut a path through whatever is ahead of them, raising the next generation, and babies. Oh babies. I've heard it said "Babies are proof that God hasn't given up on us yet."

I also heard somewhere, or maybe I read it, "Be kind to everyone you meet. They're fighting a battle too."

So today, quietly screaming out against my brother's belief that life wasn't worth doing anymore, that it was easier to give up and quit, I'm going to spend some time encouraging a first time mother, and hold her newborn baby. I'm going to take a little bit of time to be outdoors, enjoying the signs of spring all around, signs of life I guess.

And last, I'm going to call my mom. I suspect she could use a friendly voice today.


Becky said...

Bev, this was so beautiful. I have tears.

I was thinking the other day, after reading the post of someone who had won her physical battle ... for now ... that there are two kinds of people who appreciate life the most.

One, someone who has had to fight for it. And two, someone who loves someone that lost it.

I'll look at my MOPS mamas with new eyes today. So young and largely unaware of the hardships in life, yet really living them each day. They empower me.

Gretchen said...

May God comfort and bless you and your family today. I feel for all of you, but especially for your mom--for no parent should bury a child. Yet we all know and love someone who has.

May He bless you and keep you and give you peace. May His face shine down upon you and may He be gracious to you now and always sweet friend. xxxooo

Susanne said...

Bev, praying for your and your family today as you all remember your brother. And in honor of your family I'm going to be extra sure to give the kids in my dayhome extra hugs and extra kindness to their hard working parents. May you have God's peace today!

Karen said...

It's been 10 1/2 years since my sister died, and I can understand your need or desire or whatever you want to call that feeling to remember the date. Though their lives were much different, there is still a common loss of a sibling that causes you to reflect on what life is really and truly about and to differentiate between what is important and what is not.

Good for you to call your momma. I've always thought one of the worse losses of all is to lose a child. I cannot even begin to imagine that hurt.

Bless you, and bless her.
Love, Karen

Leah in Iowa said...

Praying for you and your family today.


~ Leah

Lynne said...

I'm keeping you and Barb and your mom in my thoughts today.

Robin in New Jersey said...

Prayers for you and your family today, Bev.

Renna said...

I have an older brother who has been on the brink, that Jerry apparently leapt from, many times. He seems to be doing better these days. I pray for him everyday.

I'm so sorry about Jerry, and I did say a prayer for you and the rest of your family who will be thinking of him today.

zentmrs said...

You'll be in our thoughts on this day as you remember your brother.

pcb said...

I'm sorry for your pain and admire that you are learning from what you and your family have gone through.

Kathleen Marie said...

A beautiful post and a subject that is just so hard to understand. And like you I am enjoying this life, this gorgeous spring weather and keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs ~

Diane@Diane's Place said...

My beloved BIL suffered horribly until he died of pancreatic cancer in 1998, and it's only been in the last couple of years that we can talk about him and reminisce about the good times without crying. My sister just couldn't stand to talk about him until lately.

Myself, I tend to keep remembering and talking about them. To me, when you don't talk about them and remember the good times, it's like they never existed and they die two deaths: physically and spiritually. If that makes sense to anyone besides me.

Remembering you, Judith, Barb and all of your family today in prayer and in my thoughts, Bev.

Celebrate Jerry's life and memory today instead of dwelling on the sad times.

And by the way: My BIL's name was Jerry too.



ChupieandJ'smama said...

So sorry for your loss Bev. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and your brother today. And I'm also praying for everyone who right now is where your brother was right before he took his life. I can't imagine the despair and pain someone is going through at that moment.

Wanita said...

You and your family are in my prayers. I can identify with all you are going through because my older brother took his life almost seven years ago. It's a very sad and difficult thing to go through.

Dena said...

i loved this post, thank you for the reminder. i'm so sorry for your loss and your hurt, but so very thankful the Lord is bringing you healing and blessing. holding new little babies is the perfect balm for our hurting hearts after someone dies. hugs to you.

Toni said...

Coming in from Barb's blog. What a beautiful way of reflection, Bev. Suicide directly impacted several members of my family as well, who lost someone close to them in this most tragic way. I do believe some of what you shared here will help me a bit when I am trying to encourage and bare this burden with them. Thank you for that.

Beck said...

Oh, Bev. This was so lovely and sad and my heart broke for you.

dianne - bunny trails said...

What a poignant and beautiful post, Bev. Thank you for sharing and providing a bit of perspective. Sometimes, it's a much-needed thing.

Hugs & blessings,

Chappyswife said...

Ah, Bev, my heart aches for you and Barb and your Mom and all of your family each time you write of your brother.

You have great wisdom to share in dealing with the pain, I think, and I am glad you shared it with us.