Some mornings I wake up early.
Some mornings I stay in bed a little longer. It’s not like anyone’s going to notice if I don’t start working until 8:30. Or 9 a.m.
But back to those mornings when I arise a little earlier. Those are the mornings when I wake up with a start and for just a minute, I think I’ve heard my brother’s car. But it’s not him. And it won’t be.
Because he died. And I’m finally finding a way to get past that and get back to work.
(Me and my brother Steve as toddlers)
Have you ever had that happen?
Something disrupts your life so much that it’s hard to get back into the routine?
You’re sad. Your concentration is nil. You don’t feel like talking to people.
The mornings are the worst for me. On most weekdays, my brother stopped by my house for morning coffee. That was our routine. It was a ritual and after he left, I’d get to work.
Sometimes his visits would only last 5 minutes. He had things going on. Sometimes, when I had lots of work to do, it would feel like hours. But always we’d have coffee and talk. We’d share news and gossip. We’d talk about our workday and solve life’s problems and sometimes we had crazy discussions. And whatever it was we talked about–or didn’t talk about, I guess it worked because we’d both be ready to get on with our day by the time we finished our coffee.
I miss reading him the quotes of the day that arrive in my email every morning. Steve would store some of those quotes in his head – “to use later” on his buddies, I suspect.
There were mornings we’d sit quietly. I’d be checking email. He’d bug the cat. Sometimes he was a little hung over from too much drinking the night before and I’d tell him so. “Don’t act like my mother,” he’d say. Other days when he tried telling me what to do, I’d tell him, “Don’t act like you’re my husband.”
A few weeks before he died, for various reasons Steve stopped coming for coffee. He’d still stop by for a brief minute or send me a text message but he didn’t come for coffee. He’d done that before. Stopped coming. Trying to get an earlier start on hot summer days or maybe we’d had a little tiff…whatever…it wasn’t that unusual that he’d not be around so much for a few weeks. That was Steve. I always knew he’d return.
Except this time he didn’t.
Loud. Silly. Funny. Annoying. Helpful. Obnoxious. Stubborn. Sentimental. Mostly he was just my brother. We spent most of our lives around each other. We shared friends and teachers and secrets. We held hands in the dark when our father died and I consoled him on more than one occasion when a girlfriend broke up with him. I drank beer with him when he was in a wheelchair after a truck accident and snuck out with him after his stag.
The ashtray he used to use—he was the only one I still let smoke in my house–still sits on my counter by the sink. The coffee cup he liked to use in the mornings is stuck in the back of the cupboard but every so often it comes out and I remember.
I still think about him in the present tense. I think I’ll give the leftovers to him. Or I’ll wonder if he needs anything at the grocery store. The sound of a car racing a little too fast down the road sounds like him. A song on the radio reminds me of his rock band days.
Running into one of his friends brings him back. So does the price of scrap metal. Pork hocks. And Crown Royal. Our cat when we’re going away and we need someone to feed her. Little things. Every. Single. Day.
I don’t want to forget and yet I try to forget. Especially first thing in the morning. Because that’s when I feel it the most.
Damn, I miss him.
I wrote this right after my brother, Steve died unexpectedly on September 24, 2015 but was unable to click “publish” till now. I’m finally getting fully into work again and although the pain has lessened, I still miss him. Should I be thankful I’m self-employed and was able to lighten up on my workload when I needed to? I like to think so. It’s hard to fathom why things happen but they do. Carrying on with living doesn’t make us bad people. And it doesn’t mean we don’t still ache. We just learn to deal with it.
How have you dealt with bad things in your life and carried on? Have you had to make yourself work when it wasn’t in your heart? What tips do you have to offer to others trying to get it together? Please share your thoughts in my Comments section.