One Long Day

Reflecting On My Brother’s Death And Birthday — One Year Later

My brother, Eddie

On the first year’s observance of my brother’s passing, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Whenever I’d pause to think about Eddie, I’d slip into a funk. Emotional most times, when for months I had stopped crying altogether.

In July of 2017, Eddie passed away in a house fire on the morning before his birthday. The tragedy happened on a Sunday. That Monday, my brother would have turned 52.

I’ll never forget the phone call with my parents as my mother spoke on one line and my father handled the other.

“Is everything all right?” I asked.
“No, it’s not. I need you to sit down,” my mother told me.
“Go ahead,” as I sat.
“Your brother Eddie died this morning,” my mother said.

Twenty-four hours later, I’d be in a funeral home with my parents and nephew, Edward. Instead of celebrating my brother’s birthday, we planned his memorial service. We also decided to have Eddie’s remains cremated in lieu of a traditional funeral with a church service and burial.

“I can’t imagine how you feel,” people would often tell my mother. It might sound consoling, and for months, my mother never responded.

“No, you cant,” is what she wanted to say, but didn’t. Now, she does. It’s too painful to keep quiet, and for her sake — the mother of a lost child, she answers.

“I cry everyday,” my father recently told me.

My dad turns 84 in November.

I’ve encountered my own moments, but didn’t let them get to me. People crossing boundaries with their comments or trying to start a conversation. Their connection doesn’t carry the weight to discuss something this personal.

On the other hand, it’s friends and family who I talk to. The ones whose time and charity I treasure. The ones who loved and miss my brother.

There’s something of a pain threshold that’s also arrived. A newfound strength towards failure, setback, and nasties providing a fresh outlook:

You can’t hurt me. The world has already taken away my brother. Nothing you do or say can cause any pain that I can’t overcome.

I wish I could tell a varnished story. Down in the dumps on the day of Eddie’s death, lifted up on his birthday. I can’t, ’cause that’s not how life works. Life plays for keeps. And it’s times like this when you’re reminded of it.

Instead of a typical two-day cycle, that Monday and Tuesday blended into one long day. Most of it full of sorrow. 48 hours compressed into a 24-hour vacuum, or so it felt.

Eddie’s sons: Edward and Enrico.

I remain helpless as my nephews resume life without their father. I’m also watching my parents navigate their twilight years in anguish.

I also experienced something out of the blue and unexpected. Back in my daily routine, I reflected on others. Strangers I didn’t know.

Eddie’s death was my family’s turn and that’s life. Because of this, I couldn’t help thinking of those dealing with their own tragedies.

I’m neither a religious or a church-going guy. Despite this, I sensed the need to pray for the fallen and their heartbroken families. The ones dealing with sudden loss and a plea for guidance on their behalf.

Please, God. Find these people and comfort them.

One year later and I’m at the crossroads of time, memory, and mourning. Instead of closure, the wounds remain. Some days are more painful and depressing than others.

Moments come and go when I sense the connection with my brother fading away. This part scares me. Is it my emotions getting the best of me or just personal and uncharted terrain?

The edge of this first year simulates the end of a long goodbye. The beginning of the second feels like I’m leaving my brother behind. Waving as we part.

I don’t know where this next year and the ones thereafter will take me. Will it circle, as if in orbit and keeping us within reach, or travel further away?

Only time will decide where this goes. I hope it’s all a phase in the grieving process — an ocean’s mystery of shifting, rising, and falling tides. And just like the ocean, it’s forever and infinite, but then again, so is love.