You know how, sometimes, when something important happens in your life - like you meet someone special or something awful and life-changing happens - and later on, you can't forget how you were made to feel, but you can't remember the day of the week that it happened on? I've had that a lot in my life.
I can remember meeting my first serious lover and I can remember being asked for my hand in marriage, but I can never remember the day of the week it happened on. Of course, that's what calendars and diaries and old cards are for.
I won't ever forget, though, that it was on a Monday that my big brother died.
Saturday is my day to do laundry and change my bedding. It was on last Saturday that I was putting in my second load of clothes when my phone rang. I had a strange feeling. My stomach fluttered and hot saliva filled my mouth.
My sister was calling to tell me that I needed to get to the hospital. My brother, Chubby, was doing way worse than he had been the night before.
For some reason, I took the few minutes to finish setting up the washer for the second load of clothes - my whites - and putting the first set into the dryer. When my jeans were tumbling and my whites were suds-ing, I ran around to get my purse and keys. I drove like a crazy woman to the hospital.
I don't remember much about that Saturday or Sunday except that I was irritated by everything.
Monday, when we all had to realize that Chubby wasn't going to get better and that he was in a lot of pain, I left his room and took a walk around the parking lot. I got into my car and went home. Two hours later, someone called to see where the hell I was at. I was home, finishing my laundry.
It seems like a crazy thing to do, to go and change clothes from the dryer to hangars and drawers, from the washer to dryer, from hamper to washer. It seems crazy, but it was soothing and normal and like everyday living.
When I did get back to the hospital, I only stayed long enough to go and tell Chubby, once again, that I loved him. This time, he didn't squeeze my hand or look at me like he knew what I was saying. This time, he just slept or dreamed or was already breathing his way home to After.
I left and went over to my niece's house and held my great-nephew.
DJ didn't know that something was happening that was hurting so many hearts. He was tired and wanted to cuddle while refusing to actually go to sleep. He just lay in my lap with the back of his head against my chest, reaching back to put on of his warm toddler-hands to my face while he sucked a bottle of milk. He didn't see the tears I was trying to hold back.
Some friends came by to bring cold drinks and paper plates and stuff for sandwiches and salads. They stayed long enough to let me know they cared.
My sister called and told me that Chubby was gone. She said that he had been given enough medicine so that he wasn't in pain when he left. She didn't cry - not then - because my sister is very, very strong and knew that I couldn't have taken her crying just then.
That was on Monday. I won't ever forget that my brother died on a Monday.
“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
― Anne Lamott
“It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”
― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
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