Keeping On Keeping On (Eleven Years and Counting)

My brother is dead.

It’s all right.  He was killed eleven years ago.  I’m at peace with it now; as much as I’ll ever be, I guess.  Right after it happened, I’d think of something that would remind me of David.  Maybe it was something we did together.  Maybe it was something I thought he would have liked or appreciated.  One thought would lead to another, but they kept ending on the same one: David is dead.

With time, I found my thoughts didn’t automatically descend into the “death spiral”.  I wasn’t in denial exactly; more like thinking of a favorite film where you recall that anticipation of a certain scene though you know how the movie ends.  Still, there were things that were hard.  Conversations with strangers about my brother could be awkward.  It took me ten years before I could write about it.  It felt like David was in limbo; a Schroedinger situation where he wasn’t truly gone until I said he was.  It was a little too DeForest Kelley for my tastes.

The last place I have to watch myself is when I go out to the cemetery.  Part of the problem is he was never there when he was alive.  No one else we know is buried there, so I have no other memories of the place.  It’s also quiet; too quiet.  The cemetery is off a main road, across from Harper College, but you can’t hear the traffic noise or see much.  In retrospect it seems too peaceful for David.  We should have buried him closer to the city in a subwoofer cabinet.  Unless I bring Daniel, I tend to be one of the youngest people visiting.  I sit for a bit by his wreath and then fix anything that’s blown loose.  After that, I walk around the area a bit, straightening up the neighborhood.

I was 27 when I placed his temporary marker there in the snow.  Driving out this past week, I was a month away from turning 39.  When I’m there, I see the old people slowly and painfully working the ground around their loved ones and it occurs to me that – best case scenario – I will be one of them someday.  That’s the biggest problem with death: it puts things into perspective.


One comment

  1. Hi Bob. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now. With much enjoyment, too, I might add. I love your stories and this one struck a particularly poignant chord in my heart.

    I lost my little brother when he was fourteen. I was eighteen. Every year on his birthday, and on the day he was killed, I spend time thinking about him and what he would be like if he lived. He would be 56 this year.

    As a friend of my parents told told them after their youngest son’s death: “You’ll never be the same again.” And he was right. As you say in this lovely remembrance piece, the best we can hope for is that it gets easier every year.

    All the best from a reader in Costa Rica.

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