The world as seen through the eyes of an exhausted, caffiene addicted, homeschooling, atheist mama.

Posts tagged ‘brother’

Images and Words

Pictures of my brother as well as some of the trip to and from. The first few are pretty low quality, but I don’t have the savvy energy  to figure out how to change that.

Me and my brother, circa 1980ish

That look was always on his face. The look that said “My sister is a freak. I can’t possibly be related to her.

My brother(middle) and childhood friends. They were like family.

These three kids and my brother were like family. It blew my mind to see them all grown up.

Jer, posing with me just before my Jr. Prom

He made fun of my poofy hair, but later confessed that I looked pretty. I felt like a princess in that dress. How embarrassing!

New Year's Eve. 1994?

I’m not positive on the year, but I think it’s about right. I always thought this picture showed his personality really well.

In the Philippines

This is the most recent image I have of my kid brother. Not a kid anymore.

Giant cross just outside Amarillo, TX

This is what most of the 12 hour trip looked like

The door to nowhere, Arkansas

Natural Dam, AR

A few hours before the viewing, I was feeling restless and cooped up, so Hubby took us for a drive to distract me. We almost got into a crash. That would have kinda rocked–to die two  hours before my brother’s funeral.

Somewhere in the Ozarks...

Not too far beyond this, we came across the house from Sling Blade. Well Hubby is convinced it’s the house. I’m not so sure. Anyway, he tried to pull into the drive and take a picture of it but I reminded him that we were smack in the middle of the Ozarks. People get shot for going onto someone else’s property out there.  And  nobody knew where we were.  I guess dying right before Jer’s funeral had lost its appeal.

So they sell homemade moonshine in mason jars out there.

Hubby decided to take me “Over the bridge” (that’s local slang for going over the bridge, into the next county to buy liquor) to get me some good bourbon. You know, to take the edge off of that whole dead brother thing. I was this close to springing for the mason jar of moonshine, but it didn’t look very sanitary. It didn’t even have a self-sealing lid with the middle that pops if the seal has been broken. These were like mayo jars. It really is a different time and place out there.

Ole Smokey Moonshine

Move over, DC and Marvel! It's the Action Bible!

My favorite thing about the Action Bible is that it wrapped up and secure so the local youth can’t sit around and read it without buying.

Frankly, I can’t believe that Hubby didn’t leave me at the hotel after seeing where I come from. What a brave and wonderful guy!


Promises To Myself

I will allow myself time to feel the sadness when it comes.

I will acknowledge the pain and the regret.

I will hold his memory in my heart.

I will breathe in and out. In and out.

I will allow myself to smile.

I will acknowledge that laughter in not a betrayal.

I will take time to enjoy the way the sun feels on my face.

I will make sure to eat good food and drink lots of water.

I will allow myself a break when I am overwhelmed.

I will acknowledge my fear but I won’t let it consume me.

I will write. I’ll write for me and I’ll write for my brother. I will write so that I don’t forget–so that the things we went through together will not be lost. I will write so that my son can read about his mom when he’s older. I will write so that he can better understand my quirks and fears, so that he can know how hard I try to break the cycle I was born into. I will write not only to honor and remember my brother, but also to honor and help the living and yet-to-be-born.

I will remember.


I am sad.

The simple, everyday tasks of living overwhelm me;
Yesterday, I went to the store for vegetables and forgot why I was there.
I stood in front of the vitamins and the herbal teas
Does my son have a sore throat? Does he need tea?

Driving to a friend’s house, I missed my turn–
I knew where I was going, I just forgot how to get there.
When I turned around I missed the turn again.
And coming home was the same story.
I just kept driving, right past my street.

The sadness is making me distracted– forgetful.

It is hard to find the energy to cook meals for my family.
My legs don’t want to hold me up–
They are weak and wobbly, like I’ve run a marathon.
I want to sit on the couch–

I want to cover my head with a blanket–

But my boy needs his mom.
He needs breakfast and snacks and dinner.
He needs to show me his Lego creations
He needs me to be present.

My brother is dead and I am sad.
But the living need tending–

And as I stand at the stove, turning crepes and bacon–
Even as I forget what I’m doing–
I find comfort in the mundane tasks of life.

Picking up the Pieces

I laid my little brother to rest on Saturday; what a horrible fucking day that was. Hell, this whole week has been among the worst of my life.

It feels like it happened a lifetime ago, but at the same time, it feels like it was only moments ago. Things happened at warp speed and in slow motion at the same time. I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced that sensation before.

The trip itself was exhausting. A friend took BB and another friend took the dogs so Hubby and I could go to Arkansas alone. It was a long and boring drive, and I think I cried more tears during that drive than I’d ever cried  in my life. And I’ve cried a helluva lot of tears in my time.  I passed the time, between crying jags, making plans with the funeral home, getting cost details, and passing information on to other family members. It was somehow surreal and appropriate to make funerary arrangements in the same desert landscape that my brother and I drove through as kids. Talking to a funeral director on a cell phone with no reception in the middle of the desert is probably a situation that rarely happens, so at least I experienced something that few people have.

While we were there, I got to meet and hang out with some of my brother’s friends. It felt good to listen to stories about him and it was nice to know that he wasn’t alone; he had a network of people who loved and supported him. I’m so thankful to his friends for all they did for him while he was alive and for helping me in his death.

Now we are home and it’s time to pick up the pieces of my life and move on. In about a month we are moving out of state, so on top of the grief for my brother, I have to get us packed and ready to go. I have to help BB say goodbye to all of his friends. I have to say goodbye to mine, too. I have to go through our stuff and have a yard sale, I have to help Hubby figure out where we’re going to live, and I have to figure out how the hell I’m supposed to make friends as an atheist homeschooler in the bible belt.

There is so much to do. Too much to do to leave room for grief. Somehow I need to find a way to set it aside for now so I can focus on the tasks at hand. That’s what got me through the funeral. One task at a time, one hug after another, one foot in front of the other. Forward momentum keep me going and allowed me to keep the tears at bay. It was only in the hotel, when there wasn’t someone to comfort or a paper to sign that my grief seeped out. When it was just me and Hubby, I cried. And cried. And cried. At night, when the lights were out and I was floating in the unfamiliar darkness of the hotel room, I had vivid flashbacks of my childhood. The memories played in my head so vividly that it was like watching a movie. I laid there in the dark, crying and watching memories until I passed out from exhaustion. Then I dreamed that my brother was dead and I was planning his funeral.

My brother was almost like a son in a lot of ways. Even though we were less than two years apart, it fell to me to be his parent. When he had asthma attacks, I fixed his nebulizer treatments; when he had bad dreams, I was the one who nurtured him back to sleep. When he needed food, I figured out how to cook for him. I beat people up when they called him a sissy or hurt him. I raised him.

And now he is dead.

The sorrow, the regret, the depth of the anguish I’m feeling is unimaginable. It’s like I’m stuck in a black hole. I can’t think. I can’t breathe. I can’t move.  How do I keep going when I can’t breathe? How do I move forward when I can’t think clearly? My words don’t even come out right when I’m talking.  The book I’m reading doesn’t make sense. I can’t find meaning in the symbols on the page. And when I do find the meaning, I can’t hold it in my head long enough to understand the context. I go back and re-read a paragraph and I think: I didn’t read this…I don’t remember reading this…

How do you pick up the pieces when they are shattered into dust? How do you keep putting one foot in front of the other when you can’t even pick up  your leg? How do you do this?

Goodbye, Little Brother

My little brother died yesterday.

He wasn’t really little. He was less than two years younger than me, but I practically raised him. We went through hell together when we were kids. My parents would disappear for a day or two at a time when we were little and I had to figure out how to scramble him an egg when he was hungry. When he had a bad dream, he woke me up and I helped him go back to sleep. When I was about ten, he developed a fear of the boogey man after we had been  home alone for a couple of days. I was afraid of the boogey man too, but I didn’t tell him that. I told him that the boogey man was called the boogey man because he carried a boom box into kids’ rooms and boogied the night away.

He said I helped him be brave and strong. The truth is, he made me  brave. I couldn’t have faced the demons of our life if I hadn’t had him to help him face them.

He gave me a nickname around that time: Little Mama. He said I was more a mother to him than our mother was. The nickname stuck and eventually our parents started using it. At the time, I took it as a badge of honor. I was a good person. I was helpful. I was responsible and I was grown up. Looking back, it breaks my heart that I had to take on that role. And it breaks my heart that the only kind of mothering he got was from a sister a couple years older than him.

Don’t get me wrong. We fought. A lot. Siblings do that. But we also depended on each other. Siblings do that, too.

As we hit puberty, we started to get on each other’s nerves, but we were still really close. All the moving, all the uncertainty, all the fear bonded us in a way that seemed unbreakable.

When I went away for college, I cried for the entire first year. I felt so much guilt for leaving him behind, but I knew I had to get out of there. I knew I’d die if I stayed where I was. We started to drift apart. Bad shit happened to him and I wasn’t there to help him through it.

He told me he resented me for abandoning him.

How could he not? I was the only mother figure he had, and I left him with a strung out mother who dragged him half way across the country to live with her drug smuggling boyfriend.

I had BB and we tried to reconnect, but I think he was too far broken to ever let me back in all the way. We fought. A lot.

Apparently grown siblings do that.

I abandoned him again. He was so angry with me and we couldn’t have a conversation without fighting, so I just stopped contacting him. He stopped contacting me. We just let each other slip away.

I didn’t expect him to die. In the back of my mind, I always thought we’d come around again. I always thought that’d he be there for me to bounce my memories off of. I thought he’d be there to help me make sense of everything we went through together. I thought he’d always be a witness to our childhood.

But the only person who could attest to what we went through together is gone. The only other person who has the same memories as me, the only other person who can validate my past, had a seizure and died.

My brother is dead and I’m alone with my memories. The good ones and the bad. I’m alone with nobody to understand-nobody to laugh when I sing “Pour Some Sugar on Me”. There is an entire lifetime of memories that are only half-memories now.

Jer, I’m so sorry for all you went through. I’m so sorry you felt I left you, and I’m so sorry I didn’t get to tell you goodbye. No matter what you may have felt or thought, I always loved you, I always worried about you, and now I’ll always miss you.

your sis.

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