Saturday, June 28, 2008

I hope you are listening...

I remember how much I looked up to you. How I couldn't wait for us to get to the age where we could be best friends and our five year age gap wouldn't be so significant anymore... And I remember when I first found out about your cancer... How I couldn't believe someone I loved, especially you at 23, was going to have to get brain surgery! I was so scared, but at the same time strong, because I didn't want to scare you. You acted as if it was nothing, and although you were never a typical tough guy, you acted calm as I had ever seen you that night before your surgery. The entire room was filled with family members, but I remember we seemed to talk the most... I remember thinking that, for one of the first times, we were closing that age gap and talking to each other like friends instead of a big brother to his little sister. It would be the first of many talks as friends, but, unfortunately, it would be the last time that you were ever completely the same old David. I'll never forget that day. I was there with you as much as I could be over the next 20 months of treatments. You had times when you seemed as if you were recovering, only to be torn back down by the realities of your disease. The magnitude of your treatments wore on your fragile body and I saw more and more of my brother slip away. There were moments I looked at you and wanted to cry because I could hardly recognize the frail figure that sat in front of me... But nonetheless, I never lost hope that you would prevail in the end. The Thursday before you died I spent the entire day by your side. I asked you about your beliefs in the afterlife and if you were scared... I shared my feelings with you on life, mom, Derek and Josh. I massaged your sore neck, aching from bed rest. I remember I went and got us the triple play from Chili's (One of your favorites) and felt horrible that I had to feed it to you... Not because I didn't want to, but because I knew how torn apart you had to be inside that your body wouldn't work enough anymore to do it yourself. It had to be so scary in the end David, not knowing what was going to go next, not knowing if you would make it through the night. It breaks my heart to know that you had to feel those feelings, experience that kind of pain. On Wednesday, July 13Th, 2005 at 5:23a.m. I heard my phone ring... I knew before I even jumped out of bed what I was going to hear. I picked it up and it was dad... He said, "He's gone." in shock I started to ask a bunch of questions instead of crying... I wanted to know what you last said... Dad told me that before he went to bed that night he went in to check on you and you told him that you were scared... and God, it made me wish I could have been there with you so badly! But I knew that it was something that could not be undone. Dad told me that you had finished your will that exact day... I thought that was interesting... Like some sort of closure. As I hung up the phone and laid back into bed I felt the strangest wave of emotion I have ever felt... My body started trembling and shaking uncontrollably, and tears streamed my face as if I had been holding them in for years. I cried for my loss, for the loss of the world, for your freedom from pain, for all the pain you had to go through... I cried for my future without you. I cried like I will probably never cry again. And when the tears finally ran dry I knew there was a job to be done.
I knew you deserved a beautiful funeral... One that was personalized and memorable... And I also knew that no one in our family had it in them in that moment to pull it off besides me. At my core I knew it was my job to put together something special for you. I worked day and night for 72 hours searching through eulogies, pictures, poems, and songs... and by the day of your funeral, somehow, everything was finished... And it was just as I hoped, beautiful. As I stood in front of all the people that loved you so throughout your entire life and spoke about what an amazingly strong and gracious person you were in life, I knew in my heart that you were that same person, standing right next to me, in death. I was so comforted by your presence that I don't remember crying the entire day. I loved hearing your friends talk about you the most... I guess because they got to know you as a friend far before I had the opportunity to. With each of their memories I felt like I had been given the chance to be closer to you... Get to know you more than I had in life.
One year had passed and I swear I hadn't gone a day without thoughts of you... Every time I went on vacation I took your suitcase, as if you were coming along with me... and every time I heard Green Day "Time of Your Life" I cried... I volunteered at Hospice to learn to understand death better and to fill the void I still had from not being able to say everything I had wanted to before you passed... I made scrapbooks of all your pictures for Grandma, Mom, and Kelly for Christmas... as gifts for them, but as therapy for me. I spent a lot of time alone searching for answers as to why... But none were ever good enough for me, so I stopped searching and started accepting.