Writing has always come naturally to Jeff. It was never that easy for me and Today, I found myself dragging my feet when it came to this post. I knew I wanted to write something about the anniversary of my brother’s death–because part of the reason why I write is because of Jeff. What he taught me about the shared human experience. Just as I experience ups and downs about my own image in the gym with my clinics. My knowledge and fashion sense (and sometimes lack thereof), I also experience pain, grief, and loss. None the more poignant or heartbreaking than the loss of my brother, Jeff, on October 13, 2013.
Jeff lost his battle with cancer on a Sunday. I was sitting out at our lake house enjoy a nice fall day when I got the phone call. One of my fondest memories was out at that house. Me and my brothers together one last time.
The hardest thing for me is that his two wonderful children will never know the Jeff that I knew.
All the death, gloom, pain and sadness that filled my life in the months that followed prompted me–perhaps in some strange way of escapism–to start this blog. I wanted to carry on Jeff’s writing. I wanted to fill it with funny thoughts that would make people happy. I wanted to fill it with all of the things that made me happy. And this is what it has become. So in a way I have Jeff to thank for this wonderful journey so far.
But I’m sure you will understand that I would give it all back in a heartbeat to have just one more minute with my baby brother. Just one minute. 60 seconds. Just long enough to tell him that I loved him, just like I had the urge to do via text message, sitting at the lake house writing gymnastics articles mere hours before he died. Cell phone service is sketchy out there and I never sent the message. My single biggest regret of my entire life.
So bear with me today; I fear I will be unable to avoid replaying the events of exactly one year ago today in my mind, over, and over.
I am glad that I didn’t have to speak at his funeral or write his obituary. I spoke at his wedding and that was much, much better. If I wrote the obituary:
My little brother. I love you so much. I will miss you forever and always. I wonder what Thanksgiving and Christmas will be like without you. I cry just thinking how you will not be at the wedding wedding of my children or walk your daughter down the aisle. I am sad because I feel in this world you did not fully comprehend how much you were loved. But I think now, in Heaven, you do. Now you are free. I never thought you would be the first of us to go. You were supposed to write MY OBITUARY. I know I will never get over the loss of you, my little brother. But I hope the memories that now make me sad will one day make me smile in fond, loving memory of you.
Poem: Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep,
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die
During the last few months of his life, I tried to send an e-mail a day. Just keeping him informed on what was going on. At the end, I knew he couldn’t read them. But I still HAD to write them. If I where to write something today.
Hope you are feeling strong today. Can you tell me about heaven? The afterlife? Anything I should worry about?
I want you to know that your kids are doing great. B. is doing a great job with them. They miss you of course but they have a good support network. Chase and I took O. to a hockey game. Hate to tell you, He LOVED the fights. Maddie and I went up and taught O. and F. how to play street hockey. Sorry about the window I broke.
B. has come down and spent some time with Steph and kids. They had a great weekend out at the lake. You would love what we have done with it.
Love you brother. Miss you every day