Riding our Big Wheels on the long front porch in front of our house was always one of my favorite summertime things to do with my younger brother. One of the things that made it the most fun is that we were absolutely not allowed to do it. Our porch was several feet off the ground and my wise parents knew this was a disaster waiting to happen. My little brother and I would sneak onto the porch and ride, ride, ride. That is, until one day when my brother’s back wheel accidentally slipped over the edge of the porch, landing him in the middle of a gigantic rose bush, with an open fracture to his right arm. I was terrified! My first thought was not that my brother’s bone was now sticking through his skin, but that we were in big trouble for disobeying….again! I wasn’t sure which scared me most. Looking back on that day, I can’t help but laugh and laugh. What a mess! But then, we were always getting into some type of mischief: my little brother and I.
On Thanksgiving Day 2011 my little brother died suddenly. He died of pneumonia at only 43 years old. My world was upside down. I had never experienced this type of grief. For several months, it didn’t seem real. I kept expecting him to walk in at family gatherings or to call me on the telephone and say something funny. When none of those things came, the realization that he was gone began to sink in. It was permanent, and I fell apart. I had to find a way to move forward, and find solace. All the questions that were swirling through my mind had no answers. “Why?” “Why him? And why now?” It didn’t take long for me to realize, sometimes we don’t get to have those questions answered.
As days turned into weeks, and weeks into months my sadness did indeed change. I could think of him, and not cry. After a few more months, I could even talk about him and not cry. I actually discovered that there was great peace that came to me when I would simply relive some of our escapades we had as children. I could even laugh! Though it may seem strange, I found a way to move forward, and it was by looking back. I have so many memories of our time together. These times are simply of two kids playing and growing up together, but for me they are priceless, and more importantly, they are healing.
I can’t tell you that I never think of my brother and shed tears. There are days when I miss him terribly, but typically my conscious choice is to go back in my mind to all the adventures we had and laugh. Those adventures bring me great joy, and none of them so hilarious as the one including Big Wheels and a broken arm!