Seven years ago today it was a Sunday. The weather was beautiful that day. We went to church, had lunch and we were visiting outside with our neighbors. I was outside with the kids and Stew was inside. He came out and told me I needed to come inside. I am usually annoyed by this kind of thing. Really? You can't come out here? Either way I went inside to see what important thing he had to say.
He just stood there for a minute as I looked at him, probably annoyed by the ordeal. He then said "Larry died." I honestly looked at him and said "Larry who?" My brother was two years older than me. I certainly KNEW who Larry was but he isn't the only one. He was named after our biological father. There was a brief moment, the only time in my life that I HONESTLY wanted someone to be dead. I shouldn't say that I wanted someone to be dead - I wanted it to BE someone else. In the moment I came to the realization of what I was being told I was on the ground. I am pretty sure why in the movies and on TV when someone comes to tell you bad news they tell you to sit down first. I sat on the floor in my living room for a long, long time. Neighbors came in, said a few words, cried a few tears and left. I stayed on the floor.
It is amazing how in a matter of seconds a beautiful day outside turns in to something else. I sat in the family room with the lights out, in silence for several hours. Hundreds of miles away the weather had never been so nice. The roads had been icy. The grass was wet and slick as ice themselves. Whatever caused the actual accident will never be known but the results will certainly never be forgotten.
The evening was a haze. A good friend came and took me to the store to get out of the house and to sort of buy things to provide for my family for the next week. My husband and a close family friend in California spent hours on the phone coordinating travel plans. My kids spent the afternoon and early evening with friends and then came home. Their routine was normal. Read a story, say a prayer, go to bed.
I then went to bed. The realization that I would be giving the eulogy/life sketch was very clear to me. I only had one sibling. He was gone - this was my responsibility. My mind went blank and I couldn't remember a thing. I was in a full panic that I couldn't remember a single childhood story. How could I be 9 days from my 31st birthday and not remember a thing about someone I had known my entire life??
Somehow I slept, somehow I packed my things and we headed to Phoenix. I was going alone, leaving my husband and children at home. We couldn't figure out the expense or I was too out of it, I'm not sure. I flew from Phoenix to Denver where I was to meet my parents who were flying from California. I made a few phone calls, calling my great aunt who we had sent to tell my Grandmother the news. Grandma was suffering for a bit of old age memory loss but we're sure she understood for a brief moment what had happened. I called friends who cried with me while I sat in the corner of the airport. My parents flight landed and I was supposed to board their plane. I'm pretty sure if they hadn't walked off during the brief layover that I just might not have boarded. It was just too much.
During all of this we were figuring out other logistics and letting people know. The "biological father" that was spoken of earlier? He decided not to come. His response was that it had been to long and that it would be to uncomfortable for everyone? Really, for EVERYONE?? You mean uncomfortable for you?????
The next few days were a roller coaster of emotions. Dealing with an exwife, a new wife, a 10 year old son and a 4 month old son as well. Taking phone calls and fielding calls. Making arrangements that nobody wants to make. Writing a life sketch.
It was amazing to me the moment I started writing about Larry's life I couldn't stop. I wrote memory after memory, story after story. I almost worried that I would talk forever. That I would forget something. Somehow it all made it's way on to paper. Thankfully the hotel staff let me use a computer in their office that was hooked to a computer. I don't know what would have done if I had to write a pen and paper.....that's a bit crazy!
The weather in Illinois had been indifferent. It was just dark and grey. No sun, no rain, no snow. Just as grey as how we felt. The morning of the funeral there was snow. Everything was so beautiful and white. Instead of grey dirty snow and ice it was all crisp and clean. As the funeral was ending and I stood at the grave site alone that is how I felt, alone. How could he do that to me? How could I go from having a sibling to being alone? Didn't he know that meant I had to take care of my parents all on my own some day? Don't people who decide to have ONLY one child know what they are doing to them?
We ended our week long ordeal with some family time. Just me and the parents. We had experiences that were just amazing. We cried and we laughed. The first laugh is definitely the hardest but once it comes you sort of know it will all be okay. You know that life will go on. You know that you will all make it and that together we can do anything.
This is honestly a post I've started and stopped many years. I probably even have drafts on this blog I could go back and look at. Do I sit here and wonder if I will hit post? Sure I do? But today - I'm just going to post. The day I lost the person that had been my friend longer than anyone else on the earth. The person I thought would always be there. I had plans to call him - it had been about three weeks since I had talked to him last and I kept forgetting to call. Is there a moral to the story? There always is. Either way I'm thankful for the 31 years I did have. I am thankful for the calls we did make. The visits we had. Even the fights.
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