Monday, April 9, 2012

If I Could Go Back To One Day...

Awhile back, I put together eleven questions to ask readers of my blog. One of them was this one:

“If you had the chance to go back in time for 24 hours, which day in your past would you revisit?”

Which I’m going to answer today.

It took me a long time to decide whether I was going to upload this post, but the fact that this week’s ‘Monday’s Musings’ falls on such a significant date in my life, which you’ll understand in a moment, has prompted me to do so.

Last April, around the beginning of the month, I headed to Montreal (my home until we moved here in 2009) for three days, to visit friends and family. During that mini-holiday, I spent a considerable amount of time with the younger of my two older siblings; the one with only 11 months age between us. We talked a lot, shared a lot and enjoyed some quality time that is difficult at times to attain when you are an adult. And especially difficult when you no longer live nearby.

I thoroughly enjoyed the one on one time with my brother; something we hadn’t done in a long time, but something we did daily when we were children. When we were little, we were absolutely inseparable; we weren’t only brother and sister, we were the best of friends. And even though our lives took different directions as we got older, that bond was sealed and we always maintained a special place in our hearts for one another.

I spent my entire last day in Montreal with him, including the wait at the train station where we shared some coffee, cinnamon rolls and good conversation. And when I kissed him goodbye as I lined up to board the train that would take me home, I remember thinking that perhaps he could take a trip down to see us now that spring had arrived. And how wonderful it would be to have him there. And what a kick he’d get out of the birds visiting our garden since he loved birds and knew so much about them.

That was the last time I saw him.

Three days later, on April 9th, exactly one year ago today, my older brother called to inform me that there’d been a tragic accident and that our brother had died. It was one of the most emotionally profound moments of my life. There are no words to properly convey the level of grief that I experienced that moment. And how long it took to come to terms with it.

So, if I could go back to one day in my past, I would, without a moment’s hesitation, go back to that last moment with my brother. I would not have boarded that train that day. I would have stayed behind for a few more days to try and save him. To try and alter what happened on April 9. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to change anything. Perhaps his fate was sealed. But I would have given it my best shot. I would have tried even if the odds were against me. And at the very least, I would see him one last time. And be able to say goodbye. Forever.

That’s the day I would return to.

There has never been any mention of this heartbreaking incident in my life anywhere on this blog in the past year. In fact, if you go back to the time my family and I were dealing with the heaviest days of grief, particularly the funeral, you’d never guess there was something wrong; the posts were upbeat and cheerful, as always. That’s because I’m a very private person. And because I just wasn’t able to write about it.

But my brother was so special to me that I want the world to know that he existed. That he was once here. That he occupied a big part of my heart. And continues to do so. That the world was a better place with him in it. That it's less colourful now that he's gone. That his absence has left a void in the universe.

My brother is physically gone, but he lives on in my memories...

The photo on the left is his first photo at the hospital. It looks like he was born thinking.
On the right he's playing his first guitar.
He was naturally talented in music and taught himself to play.

He loved birds. And he was a trivia junkie; just like his sister.

He was a lot of fun when he was a little boy.

We were always together. Day in and day out.

...and in my heart.

I have learned in the past year that time dulls the ache, but we never truly stop grieving. We simply learn to live with it.

26 comments:

  1. This is so sad Martha. He sounds like a great guy - what an awful thing to have happened.I'm so glad that you did at least get to spend that precious time with him, and I'm glad you have shared your memories of him with us. That photo of you and him where you're both sitting down is beautiful, as is the way you've written about him.

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    1. He was a terrific guy. I'll always miss him, but it's easier now than it was a year ago. Life does go on.

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  2. I have been thinking of you Martha girl .. part of the healing process is the ability to "speak" out loud that this happened and how you have felt about it. You had such a good day with your brother on that last time you would see him .. cherish those moments because they are a gift. He appreciated you very much, I just know it.
    These pictures are beautiful .. born thinking, is a perfect description for him .. and the fact you had such a close connection to a sibling is so wonderful .. I would have given anything for that.
    Take care .. I know today is hard .. but you are going to get through it ..
    Joy

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    1. Joy, my dear, you know all the details from way back then, so you truly know the impact it had on me. It is very healing to speak out loud about it. Yes, you know how much he appreciated me. I was just as special to him. And it was wonderful having such a strong connection with him. I was fortunate in that way. You are a good friend and I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

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  3. I suppose bittersweet is the best way to describe your blog. My condolences, Martha. This is a lovely tribute to a very special man. No writng can ever capture the depths of personal feelings but your love shines through. I'm glad that you decided to post it.

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    1. Thank you, Francie. I am glad I posted, too. It actually made me feel so much better just bringing him to life this way.

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  4. Martha,the depth of your love for your brother has come through very clearly. I agree with Francie. This is a wonderful tribute to your brother. In the words of Mark Nepo "...in giving voice to what lives within, even through the softest whisper, we allow the world of spirit to soften our pain." May you be comforted today by all of your friends' (mine included) love and caring from near and far.

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    1. Thank you, Cathy. The words of Mark Nepo are quite beautiful. I wish you a speedy recovery; I am one of your cheerleaders...LOL... Get well and we'll make plans (the four adults, no kids !) to go to the Greek restaurant downtown for supper. You're almost there.

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  5. A beautiful tribute to your brother Martha. How nice that you both shared the same love of trivia and birds. My brother and I are 10.5 months apart and like you, we spent all of our formative years together. We've lived across the country now for 25 years, hardly see or speak to each other except once in a while and I agree it's hard to connect at times now that we're adults - but the love is always there. I can feel the love and admiration you had for your brother shine through in your writing. I'm so thankful for you that you had that last special time together and that is one you can look back now on with great fondness. A few days ago, I went back in time on your blog to the end of March and through the first weeks of April - that was when we first started occasionally visiting each other's blogs and there is no indication of what was going on in your life at the time - still upbeat as ever. Thanks for sharing this and take care.

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    1. 10.5 months! Yes, close just like my brother and I were. I was lucky enough to live very close to him up until we moved here in 2009, so I saw him regularly. It's only after we moved here that the visits were less frequent. I am grateful for the last moments with him. At least we had that time. No, there was no indication of the incident on my blog when it happened. No one would have guessed that something was wrong.

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  6. I'm not a crying guy and I got a lump in my throat reading this. Things happen so unexpectedly in life and can cut so deeply. I'm so sorry to hear this happened, but I'm so glad that you got to spend that time with him and have such a strong and deep final memory of him. It must've been incredibly hard, but thank you for sharing his and your story, stay strong today and remember all the great things you and him shared!

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    1. Thanks, TB. Nothing prepares you for this type of news. It's a hard blow that literally knocks the wind out of you. But time certainly helps. Thank goodness for good memories to hold onto.

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  7. You are right, your posts are always upbeat and that is one reason that I read you every day. I am not a blogger so have to post as anonymous.
    This post brought me to tears. I am so sorry for your loss, but glad you can now talk about it and are able to post such a lovely tribute to your brother and your special relationship with him. My heart goes out to you. I do know a bit of your pain, as I lost my only brother.
    Lois

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    1. Thank you, Lois, and I'm so sorry for your loss, too. You have your own pain. I always keep my blog upbeat. There are enough problems in the world, and people have their own worries, so I want my spot here to make people smile.

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  8. Oh wow. My heart weeps for your pain. This is such a lovely tribute to a special sibling.

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    1. Thank you, LaelShine. This made me feel better. And I'm so happy you are back!

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  9. Dear Martha,

    I know this must have been difficult for you to write a post about. You were so close in age, I wonder if people might have mistaken you for twins growing up, and by that, I think you might have been as close as twins. I am sorry for your loss. Wonderful photos that you have shared, very handsome. I feel by reading your beautiful writing, I must know what your brother was like, that is, a wonderful, caring person.
    Love,
    Kay

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    1. Thank you, Kay, for your kind words. Yes, we were sometimes thought of as twins, and we were just as close as that. Our connection was very deep; my mother still talks about it today, how amazing it was. He was special and the world should know.

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  10. Martha, I'm in tears reading this. What a beautiful tribute to your brother---your love for him is evident. I am so sorry for your loss. I'm glad you shared it with us. You were blessed to have such a close bond with your brother and are blessed to have so many good memories to hold onto. I know today must be a hard day for you, but I hope those memories and the love of your family and friends (including those of us far away who have never met you, but feel close to you just the same) will sustain you and bring you comfort.

    Beth

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    1. Thank you, Beth. I was indeed blessed to have that type of connection, and very blessed to have so many good memories. And I am also blessed with many good people in my life, including all of you. I've met some of the most wonderful people in the blogging world that I consider friends, and you are one of them.

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  11. how beautiful both of you look together. I'm so sorry for your loss and pain, and I'm so conscious of the fact that whatever I say will probably be grossly inadequate. it is wonderful though that you did get to spend such quality time with him before he left and that you have those good memories to cherish still. you are in my prayers, big hug.

    'When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"'

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    1. Thank you BIKBIK AND RORO! I can't tell you how happy I am that I had those moments with him. Had I not taken that trip back home, I wouldn't have had that, and it would have made his passing that much harder. Those are blessings that I notice and am grateful for.

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  12. Dear Martha,
    What a wonderful tribute to your brother. Thank you for sharing your very personal story with us. Only those who have lost a close family member can truly understand the pain one goes through and my heart goes out to you. We all grieve in different ways, don't let anyone tell you that you should get over it and just go on. You will know when you have turned that corner. It is a process and it can take years. Hold those memories close to your heart and do not loose hope....you know your bond with him will never really be broken. ~~Diane

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    1. You are very right, Diane, no one can tell us how long to grieve. Everyone's journey is different. I am so much further ahead than I was a year ago, but certainly far from over it. I don't think I'll ever be 'over it'; I'll simply get used to living with it. Thank you for your kind words.

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  13. Sorry to hear about your loss. I too lost my brother when I was thirteen. We were not as close as you were as there was five years difference between us. I often wonder if my life would have turned out any different if he was still here but that is a question that will never be answered.

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    1. Thanks, WebDebris. I'm sorry about your brother. It does make you wonder if your life would have turned out different. Some questions can never be answered.

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