One Thought, Two Truths, Three Memories
"It's so curious: one can resist tears and 'behave' very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer...and everything collapses." - Colette
One thought: For me it is the butterfly that lingers by the back garden. A monarch, thirsty for nectar, flitting among the perennials and potted flowers, reminding me of his vibrant and engaging personality. It is then the tears arrive and a little more grief is released from my body, making room for gratitude.
"I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at." - Maya Angelou
Walking along a nature trail that I know he also loved, I come across a nosegay of Forget-Me-Nots, a flower that always reminds me of our dad and now will also remind me of him. I will forget not his smile, how he loved to make others laugh, how he lived life to the fullest, especially in his final year. He did not let his cancer defeat his resilient spirit.
Two Truths: My brother and I had to work at out relationship. We may have been two threads from the same cloth but he was the gold embroidery that glitters and shines while I was the frangible thread, prone to fraying when stressed. He was energy personified; I was introspective. We often butted heads, for one of the things we both had in common was a stubbornness inherited from our Sicilian grandfather.
Even during the years we spent at odds, there was always a tie binding us together. I imagined it as a silver filament, fine and yet so strong. As we grew older we also grew closer. The differences in our personalities no longer mattered for we shared the same values; a love of our families, an appreciation for our friendships, a mutual respect for one another. We were no longer just sister and brother, we were also friends. When my sister-in-law called the morning of his passing, it was as if the tie had been severed, allowing his spirit to move on, leaving me bereft.
Memory...is the Diary that we all carry about with us. -Oscar Wilde
I am seven and my brother is five. We are sitting side by side in our shared bedroom, watching Superman on an old black and white television set. It is late afternoon and our mom is making dinner in the kitchen. Realizing how well we're behaving she brings us a treat, glasses of ginger ale and a snack. "You are being so good that you deserve something special," she says, handing us each a glass. We look at each other and grin, pleased with ourselves.
It is the night of our wedding and my husband and I are being coaxed to leave the reception so that the party may begin to wind down. My mom, dad and brother stand by the door to bid us goodbye. As I kiss each in turn I begin to cry, overwhelmed by the emotions of the day and the recognition that a new stage of my life is beginning. My brother looks at me, feigning alarm. "Grace, don't tell me you're changing your mind! I was looking forward to having you out of the house!" He grins and we both laugh as I promise that that is not the case.
We are sitting on the front porch of our parents' house. It is an early spring evening and we've just spent the day with our family. He begins to whistle the theme music to Leave it to Beaver which evolves into our taking turns singing TV theme songs and having the other guess. I am amazed at how many we have each remembered but shouldn't be so surprised. We both have always loved watching TV (comedies in particular) and share an amazing retention of the most trivial entertainment tidbits.
Rest peacefully, dear brother. I will miss you.