I woke up early this morning in a fog of sadness and worry.

I assumed it was my job situation. Everyone has been helpful, kind and sympathetic. Still, it’s stressful to change jobs, hours, type of work and method of payment. Today, I had three people to talk to about supplemental work for the summer. I also had to go back to my old place of employment, to pick up my final paycheck. Coming onto the first of the month, bills were coming due.

Sleep was impossible; I got up and made coffee.

I wrote a couple checks, in anticipation of my bank deposit. I looked over my day book, trying to memorize my schedule so far. What I really needed, I decided, was a purse-sized calendar that would show me a full week – or even month – at a time. I know I have at least two…but where? The file drawer – not the one with actual hanging files in it, but the other one…with stacks of miscellaneous papers – was the obvious place to start. I started working through the layers.

The warranty papers for my new phone,  I filed correctly. The stack of hand-made paper samples went to a drawer in the studio. A stack of photos diverted my attention for at least a half- hour. Christmas cards, purchased on sale and never mailed, went into my new correspondence drawer, where they will – I hope – be remembered next winter. A scrap of wrapping paper…the fat, county phone book…a map of Michigan…my page-a-day book from 2010…

I have kept a daily planner for at least twenty years. I keep track of my work schedule, hours worked and tips, if any. I keep track of the medicine dose for my dogs. I used to have a “to-do” list, but it suits me better to jot down jobs as I finish them. I get the sense of accomplishment without the angst. I have a master list of goals in the front, and a wish-list in the back. I keep a Christmas list in there, and write down gifts as I buy them. At times, I’ve kept a food diary. I always keep track of steps and/or miles walked, plus any other exercise I fit in. Letters written, phone calls made, visitors to my home are noted. Book and movie recommendations, and quotes from books and magazines are in there. Photos and letters are sometimes tucked in the pages…”2010,” Now there’s a distraction!

At first glance, nothing much had changed. A couple things could be checked off the wish-list, but the goals were pretty much in tact (note to self: choose easier goals!) I flipped through to today’s date.


I drew in a breath.

My brother, David, died on June 29th, two years ago.

Too young. Too soon.

Ten years younger than me, David and I had little in common…

No, that’s wrong, though I say it all the time. I always have.

It’s true, we had many differences. David was loud. Sometimes crazy. A big tease. He was a party-er and a big drinker. He worked, but not steadily. He never saved. Other than a short stint in Texas with two of my sisters, David always lived in the family home. Dad was generally mad at him: Mom did him no favors by being overly generous and protective of him. I was second to the oldest; David was second to the youngest.

Still, we had the same parents and the same brother and sisters. We grew up in the same big, rambling household. We attended the same church and the same schools. We shared many of the same memories, both tragic and joyful. We shared the same dark sense of humor, that caused us to laugh at the most inopportune times. We were family.

He was born on a Sunday morning in September. Dad came home and gave us the news, then packed us up to go to Mass. In the excitement, he forgot to give us dimes for our collection envelopes. When the basket came around, Dad just dropped in a few dollar bills. I taped the pink collection envelope, stamped with the date, into my scrapbook, as a memento of the day my little brother was born.

I rocked him to sleep, helped to entertain him, babysat for him and helped him with his homework. I watched him grow up.

As adults, David helped me move a couple times. Beyond that, I saw him at holidays or other occasions when I visited my parents. Sometimes we’d have a little chat; sometimes he’d join in board games or cards with the rest of us. He always impressed me with his memory and wealth of knowledge. David was always good for a hug.

David wasn’t a big part of my life when he was alive, so I’ve puzzled over why I miss him so much now that he’s gone. David was pure energy. Like a firecracker – or a lightning bolt – his presence seemed to change even the quality of the air around him. I think sometimes it’s not so much that I miss David – though I do – but that I miss the world the way it was with David in it.

I have a photo – not found this morning – that I took, at age sixteen, with my brand new Kodak Instamatic camera. We were here on Beaver Island, on vacation, on the beach at Iron Ore Bay. David had stripped down to his underwear, and was headed for the water: hands in the air, arms every which way and legs at a dead run. I caught the moment when both of his feet were in mid-air.

That’s the image of David that I hold in my mind.

26 responses »

  1. Awww-what a grin he was–I will never, NEVER forget the first time I saw him, and him, me. He was so little and running full force, without a stitch of clothes on, down the hallway. When he saw me standing there he stopped like he had hit a wall and then buried his whole face into the coats that were hanging and the rest of his body was still uncovered, 🙂
    The last time I saw and talked to David was a couple of years ago….My brother and I were traveling around Lapeer and other areas we had always hung around when we both lived at home. We ended up at your moms house and I began to take photos so I could email them to you. David happened to be out in the garage, and he saw me–started walking towards the car saying, “Why don’t ya take a picture–it’ll last longer” LOL! I said,” I AM, David!!” and he looked so funny at me like how did I know his name? Had to tell him who I was then he laughed….I took a couple of him–when I can find them, I will send them to you.
    It always amazes me at how for a week or so in May I get more weepy/aggitated/scatterbrained than normal and not even knowing the date, really…then it hits me–I start getting emotional and not even knowing why–until I actually look at the date. Strange. You did that too.
    And again, rest in peace, David…….You are loved.
    You too, Cindy.

    • Oh, Linda, I remember that “meeting” so well, too! I was actually going to write about that as well…I’m glad I didn’t, as you told it perfectly!
      Yes, I think sometimes it’s body memory…the sadness is there before our brain catches up with the reason why. Thanks for your constant love and support…it means the world to me!

  2. Your post hit a soft spot in me. I know what it’s like to be blindly hit with emotions stemming from subconsciously registering a painful anniversary. I also know what it’s like to lose a little brother. Mine tripped over to the other side almost six years ago now.

    I’ve never experienced anything so surreal as the loss of a sibling. I hope you can pass through the anniversary with whatever it takes. *hug*

    • Oh, Sara, thank you, for your understanding and kindness. You’re right about the loss of a sibling, too. We lost a sister and brother a few years apart when they were infants. It affected our lives in numerous ways, starting with coming face to face with the idea of our own mortality at a young age. We all agree that helped contribute to our strange sense of humor. Now, in the last two years, we lost David and then my sister, Sheila, who was four years younger than me. It IS surreal…totally unexpected, and like the world is turned upside-down. I’m so sorry for your loss, as well. Take care.

  3. Oh Cindy, this is lovely. What wonderful writing. I so resonated with this sentence: No, that’s wrong, though I say it all the time. I always have.

    Yes. We saw the wrong words all the time; our words just aren’t big enough to describe the complicated relationships we have. Thank you, though, for trying. Your words softened the heart…

    • Kathy, you always get to that kernel of absolute truth that I stumble around for whole paragraphs. That’s what it is…relationships are complicated. I remember my young cousin, at her husband’s funeral, saying, “I’m gonna so miss having him around, pissing me off and making me crazy all the time!” Thanks for reading!

  4. I came here on the strength of a reply you wrote on Promenade Plantings…. a simple comment, really, but something about the way it was written nudged me toward your blog on the day you posted this amazing– ASOLUTELY AMAZING!–short memoir.
    I’m truly speechless.

    • Thank you for stopping by, and for your kind and generous comments. I took a look around your site, and look forward to having a better look when I have a bit more time. Thanks…I’m glad you felt nudged in my direction!

  5. My first husband, my kid’s dad, died at 33. It was the thought of a world without him in it perhaps. The colors seemed a little less vibrant. I’m sure he’d be pleased to know he’s alive in your memories.

    • One thing I often write in sympathy notes is, “the larger they lived, the bigger the hole in your life when they’re gone”. I’m sorry for your loss, as well. Thanks for reading, and for your kind words.

  6. H Cindy! I have recently quit my job too, not really your circumstances but I can understand how you feel. I took these days off like a holiday, you are very well organized indeed! Reading about your brother has been very touching, thanks for sharing this sweet memory of yours.

    • Thanks for visiting, Alberto, and for your kind comments. The last time I quit a job was not so sudden. I planned for it, and set some money aside, so I was able to direct my time and energy the way I wanted. This time, I had to get back to work as soon as possible. One sweet day of “holiday” was all I had to congratulate myself on taking a stand.
      My brother was quite a character, and I miss him very much. I’ve been very touched by the tremendous show of support here. Thank you!

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