Favorite "Meditation of My Heart"

Call unto me,

and I will answer thee,

and shew thee great and mighty things,

which thou knowest not. --Jeremiah 33:3 KJV

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My brother

I've never talked on my blog much about my little brother Daniel.  Since he passed away in 2007, it has been hard to come to grips with his unexpected death.  My brother had a huge impact on my life.  Perhaps so huge that even almost 4 years after his death, I am still realizing and processing the full weight of the loss for me personally. 

Daniel (age 1) & I (age 6) 
Daniel was the most pesky little brother that you can imagine.  He came into my 5 year old world and turned it upside down!  I have tales of mean tricks, hair pulling, wrestling, arguing, and purposefully annoying me.  However, I'll only tell you my side of those stories...just like the ultimate fight where I had him pinned and he spit and squished gum into my very long hair so it had to have a chunk cut out of it....the result was not pretty.  However, once again you will only hear my side.  Let's just say Daniel taught me to love REALLY annoying people, and he taught me to ANNOY the people that I REALLY LOVE! LOL!

As we grew up, Daniel always thought he was big enough to do what I was doing.  If I went with friends to a movie, he thought he could too.  If I got to go to camp, to Aunt Jean's house or anywhere, then he begged to go on his own or with me too.  When he was about 12 and I had started driving, our age difference was REALLY starting to annoy him, but one day in a style that only Daniel could do, he let me know that he didn't care anymore that I was older, AND he truly SEEMED not to care!  I asked him why he didn't care, (I might have been enjoying irritating him with my new freedom with a car.) and he said very nonchalantly, "You're older, you're going to die first."   From then on when age difference came up, I was reminded that my expiration date was going to be before his...as we got older he would even adjust my expiration date to be sooner for the stress that my type A personality carried. 

Dad, Daniel (age 4) & I (age 9) 
Since Daniel's death, I've realized that only a pesky little brother will adjust your expiration date based on your stress levels.  I've also had to realize what life is like without someone to share your history.  Sure my parents were there, but they weren't in the back seat "pit" of the 1973 Chevy Charger trying to argue without getting caught!   There is a whole OTHER set of stories there!
So you may be asking, how else did your brother impact your life?  Well, he did teach me more than how to to love REALLY annoying people and how to ANNOY the people that I LOVE.  Daniel shaped my view of adoption as being just as "real" of a family as any other, even though I had no siblings by birth, I was sure I had the REAL deal for a brother!  We were a family forever, no matter what!  When Daniel was diagnosed with schizophrenia, it was a big adjustment for our family to realize that in many ways Daniel and I had switched expectations.  I as the "disabled" child was living independently, while Daniel the free spirit, super talented child would need help at various times taking care of himself while he battled with his own mind.  Through the toughest times of schizophrenia's episodes, mom and dad modeled again for me that "real" families struggle and adjust and struggle and adjust together.  I never doubted it.  I just hadn't yet realized how tough some family struggles could be! 

After Daniel's diagnosis, I mourned for the brother that I had once enjoyed such witty banter with, especially as he would converse about far off plans without logic, reason or reality to ground the conversation. However, a new side of Daniel emerged that was fun loving, but quieter. He enjoyed listening to others and just checking in for no apparent reason at all hours of the night and day. His calling my work to chat with me, the "executive director", during my workday was not real convenient and I never learned to fully appreciate or accommodate this new side to Daniel. I was simply too busy to think our time together might be short.

I appreciate the time he took with my kids. Daniel was a fabulous uncle. He connected with each child differently and perfectly for their personalities and interest.  He was especially good with Hannah who at that time could be very difficult to reach out to and get a meaningful response, but they spoke each others language...music and food.

On May 14, 2007, I stopped for my kids to give Daniel his birthday cards a day early.  He had forget that the next day was his birthday which seemed unusual, but he seemed to be doing well.  We had a nice visit and I hurried off to get on to something else.  The next morning mom called before 7am to say that Daniel got sick in the night and it was serious.  She had called an ambulance when his flu symptoms started including breathing problems.  He lost consciousness within minutes of arriving in the ER.  Later on in the day on Tuesday, on Daniel's 29th birthday, we would learn that he had a colloid cyst in his brain and recovery was unlikely.  By just after 4pm on the 17th, Daniel had passed away.   My parents seemed stuck unable to move and I laid out funeral plans for the brother who knew that I would die first.   He was buried next to our grandparents on May 19th.  It was exactly 29 years before that we had first held him and that he had made our family complete.

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