“The the only good thing about dying young is that everyone will remember you that way. All my friends will age, but in people’s minds, they will only see me as I am right now in my twenties.”
This is what my brother said to me as he took a deep hit off a gigantic water bong while I attempted an Oprah style interview with him a few months before he died, twenty six years ago today.
My brother, Michael died at twenty five from adeno carcinoma of the lung.Like any young death, it was a traumatic interruption in life. Life is filled with interruptions. We think it is supposed to go one way, but then it doesn’t. Like the weather and the tides and the currents.
My brother and I loved the water, especially the water of the Atlantic. The Atlantic Ocean can be smooth as glass in one minute and wild and tormented the next. Grief is like this. In the early years of grief, it crashes against your heart, up-heaves you. You never think you will get through a day.
The only salvation is time. And time takes its time. No acceleration, just like a Nor'easter, you have to sit tight, batten down the hatches and wait it out. Only after it passes, can you go out and take a look around to see what damage it caused. What old oaks finally gave way and crashed into an electrical line, or how much water you got in your basement. Only in the after can you begin picking up the pieces and doing the repairs needed to get back to some semblance of calm.
As time marches forth, grief changes; its after effects linger, but they are not as pungent and debilitating. This is the only salvation, that time marched on and with it came new life. Two years after my brother died, I had my son. There is nothing like new life to help ease the daily pain grief causes. I named my son after my brother.
Early loss, like my brother’s, caused an unusual death awareness. I look at life as a robust exciting experience because I am hyper aware at the fragility of it all. Thank goodness for writing.