It's nice when posts can be of cheer and celebration and such. Not all days are like that.
Two days ago I got a call that my older brother had suffered a massive stroke, caused by advanced lung cancer none of us knew he had. He will not recover from it.
Our last words were accidental, and were spoken in frustration and lack of patience. Not the way I would have chosen for it to go between us.
but isn't much of life like that? Not the way we would have chosen? Not another chance, knowing what you know, to go back and have another conversation, smooth over the rough places, say what needs to be said.
I am that person that wakes up every single day, anxious to jump out of bed and start my day, looking forward to what lies ahead, and the color of the sky never alters that. I am blessed to feel so, as I know this isn't the way with everyone else.
These past two days, since I got the call, have not been like that. Fitful sleep, tossing and turning, my head swarming, full of thoughts and aches and hurt and regret and wishing things were otherwise. So many long phone calls full of words hard to speak. A few that broke my heart to speak words - to my elderly father, saying the hard things nobody ever wants to hear. Feeling them as they go out into the air and can't be taken back, knowing how they'll fall on the hearts receiving them. Hearing my mother speak of how much she will miss him, and knowing it's more so than she can even imagine. She was always his biggest cheerleader, his place of refuge in the storm, as a mother should be. She was not ready for this. This is the second son my parents will have to say goodbye to, and if there's anything in life that I'd scream 'not fair' over it's that. Too hard, nobody should have to go through that, but sometimes that's what life gives you.
You never ever ever ever know when you don't have anymore time. You don't ever ever ever know when you won't get another chance to say "I love you', even to those who may not receive it perfectly.
So as I'm living in this space and time of days beyond difficult, my mind is skimming over past times, and I'm remembering.....
the playhouse he built just for me when I was a tike, so I could play with my dolls, and also so he could use our father's hammer and nails.
the little wooden cat I received in the mail, from states away, where he'd gone to live when he couldn't live with us anymore. Less than 1" x 1", I still have it. Amazing how something so small can mean so much. A little wooden cat that arrived with no written words, but I heard them anyway.
the day I spent with him, asking him about his life and what he did, and listening for almost two hours while he told me, showed me.
the tickets I sent him to go see the Rockies, with his buddy, on his 60th birthday. Some of the best money I've ever spent. He lost that friend to cancer just a few months ago.
the phone call I made to him, when I wasn't in a hurry, with no agenda, and I was able to get him to really talk to me about how he was doing, what he was feeling, dealing with, etc. Even when we hung up I knew it was a conversation I'd treasure for years to come.
There are plenty of hard memories, and I'm not one to romanticize anyone. I don't want to be remembered as better than I was, I want it to be okay, to those who love me, that I was the whole package, good and bad and soft and hard and conflicting and making mistakes and moments of getting it right, and being loved and valued for the whole mess.
So that one, last conversation that would have been so different if I'd know it would be our last, it'll stand in my memory as it was. But it'll sit alongside other moments and conversations and I'll hang onto knowing that he knew I loved him. No matter how much time went when we didn't speak, or the words weren't all lovely, or I didn't care as much as I should have, or he didn't either.
At the end of the day, and you never know when that's going to be, letting those you love know you do, for good and bad, that's all we can do.
I know that he knew. I can live with that.