Back on June 29, 2006 everyone was gearing up for a much needed long weekend (Canada Day on July 1st). My 3 sisters and I and my parents all had our own plans and had excitedly discussed what each would be doing. Our only brother Al was driving his transport truck out in Texas and was putting the pedal to the medal to get home in time to enjoy the weekend too. He made it home on June 28 but probably stressed with the long drive he had a headache and took 2 Tylenol and went to bed early. 2 Hours later he was discovered in bed in bad shape and the ambulance attendants tried to revive him but it appeared he had a devastating heart attack. He was only 46 years old.
I received the phone call at 5:00 AM on June 29 from my sister advising me to get to the hospital, she refused to tell me why. I got to the hospital and my whole family was there, I was the last to show up. My Dad took me by the hand and took me to the room where he lay and proceeded to tell me he was gone. He still had a tube in his throat and a hospital gown on. I walked up to him and touched his arm which was still warm. I said he can’t be dead he’s still warm. I couldn’t cry I couldn’t scream I couldn’t feel anything. We went back outside where my family was sobbing and I just stood there in complete shock.
I decided my boyfriend and I should go and tell his best friend before word got out. I proceeded to tell his best friend with not a tear in my eye, he broke down immediately. We then went back to my parents house where everyone was in a state of shock and sobbing uncontrollably. I on the other hand couldn’t shed a tear, it just couldn’t be real.
Eventually I decided to go home and try to lay down. On the way home in the truck the tears came flooding out. I cried all day long, I cried silently in the shower and I cried for the pain I was feeling. I actually felt pain in my heart that was very real to me. The next couple of days were a blur but I definitely remember feeling like a zombie. I actually said that the brain is an amazing thing because it shuts down to a slower pace so that you can only take in what you can handle.
We went through the planning and picking out the coffin but I couldn’t bring myself to go, it was just too real for me to handle. The funeral was well attended and I found out the more people showed up the more comfort I felt. It was heart warming to know others loved my brother like we did and they were in pain too.
After 2 weeks I went back to work and thought I could bury my loss in my work. I lasted until October when one day at work it suddenly hit me that my only beautiful, brilliant, protector and best friend brother, the other half of my soul was really gone. Needless to say the grieving had only just started. I had to take 5 weeks off work to speak with a therapist and work through my emotions. I didn’t know how to accept it and I felt so depressed realizing we would never be able to talk again or hang out for a beer or share his wonderful sense of humor. After a few trials of some meds I found a pill that after taking only 2 somehow brought me out of my emotional coma. I still loved and missed my brother very much but I could face the day again and things started to matter again.
I went back to work and found I could get through the days and weeks. I still cried for him often and I longed to just be able to talk to him but as time has gone by I found I can talk to him anytime, I believe he hears me. I don’t go to the grave site as I don’t like to think of him there but I cherish our talks no matter where I am.
Looking back now I can see the stages I went through, Shock, denial, extreme sadness, depression, acceptance and finally some semblance of peace. This whole process for me took 3 years and most of my family have recovered enough where we can mention his name and not break down sobbing. My mom on the other hand has never been herself since losing her only boy and is very afraid to let her emotions out, I think she feels she’ll have a complete breakdown so she doesn’t allow it to overwhelm her. We all grieve differently but as you know there is no loss comparable to a parent losing a child no matter the age.
As a family we hold our mom up and keep her going to try and help her through this devastation but I suspect she will go to her grave never fully healed. I don’t know that any of us fully heals but as time goes on it’s not so sharply painful and you can think of your loved one knowing that you have wonderful memories and were privileged to have spent time with them in your life. It has brought our family very much closer together and we are sure to tell each other how much we love them. In a way my brothers passing forced us to love each other the way we should have been all along.
Life isn’t easy but when you have the real love and support of your family you can weather any storm and know that you can get through anything, including another death in the family. No one wants it but it’s inevitable and what I thought would kill me really did make me stronger. Love and appreciate all those that truly matter in your life because no one knows when the phone may ring again. Love and Blessings to my brother Al and to anyone else who is going through the same experience. Please know that you can get through this and there is light at the end of this whole process. Life looks different, it will never be the same but you’ll find that the small stuff isn’t worth worrying about anymore and what truly matters most is LOVE.
Love and Blessings to you all.