Today is my brother’s birthday.
That normally wouldn’t be significant enough to post on a public blog for the entire world – after all, you’re probably only interested in my siblings’ birthdays if you know them. But for him, it’s different.
This is my brother’s 30th birthday. That isn’t really what makes this different. What makes this birthday different is that two years ago on August 14, 2010, my brother passed away after a nine month battle with cancer. I guess the first year after someone dies every day is like their birthday. I don’t remember feeling any significantly poignant feelings on his birthday last year, but I do remember being an emotional wreck for a year after his death.
Today was hard. I woke up thinking about him. I did my yoga thinking about him. I posted on Facebook thinking about him. My sister called and we talked about him, then we talked about life. I made breakfast thinking about him. I ate breakfast thinking about him.
And I cried.
Then I texted my husband and told him we need to make a cake for my brother today. And then I decided I needed to write this post. For me. And for anyone else who feels like their opportunity to build a relationship with someone they love was cut short.
At General Conference, Elder Richard G. Scott talked about revelation – but something slightly unrelated to revelation stuck with me from his talk. Elder Scott said,
“Relationships can be strengthened
through the veil
with people we know and love.”
I didn’t know my brother super well. He was 4 years older than me and left for college just after his junior year of high school (yup, he was that smart). I had always looked up to him, and I still do. I miss him a lot.
My first thought when we received the news that his cancer was terminal was that I wasn’t going to have the next 60-70 years to get to know him. I always imagined us siblings living til we were 100 and having family reunions and just enjoying each other. My siblings are all so very smart and it’s always a good time when we’re together.
The loss of my brother was a loss of hopes and dreams for our relationship.
So Elder Scott’s promise that our relationships can be strengthened through the veil made my ears perk up. I definitely hope that is true. I feel like it is true. I still pray for my brother, all the time, even though he is gone from this mortal life.
Rather than write a bunch about my brother, I am just going to repost here a piece I wrote for my brother just before he passed away, a piece I never got the chance to read to him. I am going to take it to the temple with me next time I go – I always feel close to him in the temple – and read it to him in the celestial room. Do you think he would hear it?
Ross passed away Saturday, August 14, 2010
in the presence of his wife, father, sister Christy, brother-in-law Adam,
and other friends and family.
His passing leaves a very large hole in my heart,
and I am aching with the desire
to say more, do more, and be more to and for him.
I am actually writing this on Friday, August 6, 2010.
Two weeks before it will post. (I was originally intending to post this the day I left for Seattle -which was going to be August 20.)
I’m not ready to face what is coming, and so... like anyone else, I’m denying it will happen, and pretending it won’t, until it’s too late.
Yesterday we talked with my oldest brother, Ross, on Skype.
He beat brain tumors, and swelling from a fall, and is getting stronger every day in rehab.
Meanwhile, the tumors in his chest are growing and growing.
The doctors have given him a timeline – weeks, maybe a few months. Probably more like weeks.
They gave him a choice to do some more chemo, but it won’t help, they say.
So, I’ve booked a flight to Seattle to see my brother. Probably for the last time.
I would like to tell you my story about my brother.
Ross from my perspective
Growing up, I loved my brother. I wanted to be just like him. I wanted his stuff. I wanted his friends. I wanted his talents (he is so talented!). In fact, when I started junior high – I wanted to even dress just like him. Big baggy pants and big baggy shirts (what was I thinking? I got a little smarter the next year, and realized that I could be like my brother without sacrificing fashion).
Ross played the violin. Really well. I wanted to play the violin just as well as him. So I practiced every day until my fingers were raw. I even tried to get into the BYU Music School. No one made me love music more than Ross (except maybe my mother – but he got it from her, too). Ross played the piano. Really well. I wanted to play the piano really well, too. I didn’t practice all the time. Piano and I have never really gotten along, as far as practicing-to-get-good goes. But I do enjoy playing. Then Ross learned how to play the guitar and got good. I wanted to play the guitar, too. So I practiced every now and then.
Ross is great with computers. He even taught me about RAM once when I was in high school, or maybe college. He showed me how to install new RAM in a computer. I developed a new level of admiration for my brother. He is so smart! My interest in computers at all is because of Ross. I wanted to learn some programming languages. I wanted to learn how to build my own websites. I wanted to learn how to fix computers and mess with them and stuff. I even wanted to learn how to use Linux (which I did, sort of, for a while... but then I got lazy... er, had kids).
Ross loves to read. He loves music. He loves to learn. He loves to play games (my love of European board games? From Ross). My love of reading? Ross. My intense desire to Google anything that I don’t understand? Ross. Probably the only things Ross didn’t inspire me to do is read my scriptures, pray regularly, run, and eat healthy.
That was Janie (his wife).
I hold him on this pedestal (and Janie goes right beside him on it). And I don’t think he knows that.
Really, all I want to be I want to be because of my brother. Because he is such a great example of hard work, honesty, learning, knowledge, having fun, and being a good person. I plan on telling him all these things (and more) when I get to see him in person. I hope it doesn’t sound too cliché – making amends with him as he’s dying.
I would have said these things before, but I never knew the right words to say, and I worried that he wouldn’t want to hear it. But now it doesn’t matter if he wants to hear it. There are no bridges to be burned. There won’t be another chance. If I want him to hear it, I need to tell him now.
That is my story about how much I love my brother.