It seemed to take forever to arrive in Corpus. We were both so tired. Sleep did not come easy, though. The swirl in my stomach would not cease. The weight on my chest was heavier than ever. I wanted it all to go away. Instead, both the swirl and the heaviness were planning a long term stay.
Finally, morning broke. Ronnie left to go to the office. I piddled around in a daze. I tried to take care of some of the chores I had left undone earlier that week. Those chores did not seem to matter. I decided to get all the lists and addresses and RSVP's together so I could drop them off to my Matron of Honor. She was going to contact everyone to make them aware of the situation and inform them the wedding would most likely be postponed.
I walked around aimlessly...lost. I started sweeping. As I did, I happened to look up and see the crucifix hanging by our back door. Prayer seemed to flow from my heart though my mouth into the quietness of our home. I didn't even realize I had started to cry until I tasted the saltiness of my tears as they streamed past my lips. I stepped up on the love seat and grabbed the crucifix from the wall. I fell to my knees, I could not stop the tears. I sobbed and sobbed and begged the Lord to please, please heal my brother. "Please, Father!!" I begged. "I cannot make it in this life without him." I could finally define the heaviness in my heart. It was fear and desperation...and sadness. I curled up in the corner of the love seat as a calm seemed to wrap its arms around the sadness. I stood up, put the cross back on the wall and again began to sweep.
About twenty minutes later I heard the key in the door. I was relieved to see Ronnie. I would drop everything, shower and get dressed so we could leave. I walked through the dining room to greet him. As he walked toward me he grabbed my hand with one of his and pulled a chair from the dining room table with the other. He sat down and took me in his arms. "Oh," I thought, "this man knows just how to comfort me" as I waited for him to pull me close.
But he did not pull me close. He looked me in the eye and said, "Leo called." His voice broke and tears streamed down his face. "Chris is gone."
I stood there, hearing what he said, but not really processing it. He pulled me close.
"No." "Oh God, NO!" The swirling and the heaviness had prevailed. They were there to stay "When?"
"Leo called me about fifteen minutes ago." he said. "I came home as soon as I hung up with him."
I spoke through my tears. "Was he ok?"
"No. He was crying."
It was true. Leo was crying. It must have been true.
This is where the person I am today separated from the person I was. It was as if even when we moved from that spot I could still see a part of me standing in that same place. As if the essence of me stayed right there and a shell of a person carried on.
My brother died. He died alone. My mother went in for the morning visitation and they were taking his IV's out. She thought he must have been better. Then reality set in. She has told me that she threw herself across him and asked him repeatedly, "Why? Why did you leave me?" She said she felt someone's hand on her back. Leo later told her it was the doctor.
I often wonder if we were wailing at the exact same time.
Today is the ninth anniversary of my brothers death. It was a senseless death. The night he went to the emergency room a few weeks before and had all the tests and was diagnosed with indigestion...he did not have indigestion. He was having a heart attack. This was later discovered by a kind doctor. The same doctor who comforted my mother. The damage to his heart likely caused congestive heart failure which led to pneumonia.
I have not told anyone the full story. I have shared parts of it with my friend Monica W. and bits and pieces of it with my friend V. They were kind enough to listen, not afraid as some are, and they asked questions, but I was afraid to tell the story. I was afraid that the shell of a person would fall to pieces and completely cease to exist. Who was I kidding? I ceased to exist the moment I found out he was dead.
I could not cry after that last release of emotion before I found out Chris had died. Oh, I cried. Tears fell, but the sadness did not leave. I could not let it go. I truly feared that if I began to let it go, I would never stop crying. I truly believed they would have to commit me if I even began to allow the full sadness out. I did not even wear black to the funeral. Talk about denial. I knew my brother. I knew he would not want us to mourn long. He used to say mourning was for the person left behind, not for the person that died. I wore a blue dress with flowers and Mom wore white. Some may have thought it was disrespectful, but we knew what we were doing.
I denied my pain, but it forced its way out in hives that Thanksgiving and in anxiety and panic attacks ever since. I tried to quiet it with food. I gained 30 pounds in a couple of months. The weight is still with me, in my heart and on my boodie. So, I write this as a way to release it. Perhaps as I release it I can become whole again.
My brother, Chris, was an incredible person. He had so many friends and people that loved him. He was everyone's confidant. He took so many secrets to his grave. Still today, people tell me they miss him. We miss him, too.
I miss his advice, his kindness, his generosity, his sixth sense of knowing exactly what people needed, his dry humor, his way of putting me in my place in a funny way.
I miss his laugh, his smile, his presence.
I miss jumping in the car and going for a ride with him, I miss going out for a drink with him, I miss dancing to Love Shack with him.
I leave you with two songs.
Every lyric in Because You Loved Me, my brother did for me. I can give you tons of examples of something he did for me for every single lyric in that song.
The Wind Beneath My Wings...he loved Bette Midler. He SO would have loved the humor at the beginning of the video. Perfect. I took him to one of her concerts in Houston. It was fun. He was always pushing me to be my best, to go out there and live life. I believe he is still here with us, and I believe he is still pushing me to fly. And I will again...someday. Hopefully, someday soon.
I LOVE YOU CHRIS.