A Bitter Change of Season

It is my hope that this blog isn’t going to become an anthology of depressing stories from my life, although that seems to be the way of things, lately.

My younger, and only, brother passed away the night before Thanksgiving. Died. As in, ceased to live on this earth.

Even as I type those words out, I can scarcely believe them.

But I was there at the hospital when it happened and I know them to be absolutely true. He had been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance that morning. I had spent most of the day in the surgical waiting room with my mom, awaiting word from anyone wearing a set of scrubs who could tell us what was happening.

Blood in his abdomen. Emergency surgery to find out why. By late afternoon, we knew of the aneurysm that ruptured near his spleen. For a very short time, we held on to the belief that things would be okay. The bleeding was controlled… until it wasn’t. For hours, the surgical ICU staff fought their best fight, bringing unit after unit of blood and platelets like swords onto a battlefield.

By late evening, they were still unable to stop the exsanguination—he was bleeding from everywhere, they had never seen anything like it—and his organs began shutting down. We were left with the option to keep trying, recognizing futility in the knowledge that he would be brain dead, or we could tell them to stop their aggressive efforts and let nature take its intended course.

Standing in front of my mom, holding her hands in mine, the same knowing expression reflected in both of our faces… we chose the latter.

“What else is there to do?” I remember how her tearful words cut through the silence as eight doctors stood, eyes downcast and bodies frozen in suspended animation, knowing just as we did that there was nothing left to do.

I will never forget that night as long as I live. The amount and complexity of the machinery that surrounded him. The staccato, repetitive track of beeping that kept time with the shushing, rhythmic utterance of his ventilator. The echo of footsteps as doctors shifted around his bed in choreographed motion. The way he looked, swollen and alien and silent as death.

The world around us was still as I hovered at his bedside. Medical instruments continued to automate his breathing but I knew—with absolute certainty—he was already gone. Where? I could only wonder.

He slipped away a little after 9:30 that night.

I want to know why. People who should have died a long time ago are still here. People who have done horrible things are still here. People who want out of their lives are still here, ready and waiting for Death to beckon at its earliest convenience.

My brother had everything to live for. Why did he have to go?

I can’t seem to find any answers to that question and I don’t believe I ever will, save for life can be cruel and the lesson is in how we handle ourselves whenever it is.

To be honest, I’m not handling it well. This internal and constant seething rage is something I’ve never felt before. I’ve been trying to stay active, trying to do all of the things I used to do before November 25th. I did some stuff for the PTO at school. I put some lights out around the porch for the holidays. Even put the reindeer antlers on my car. I have not done a lick of shopping and it’s December 19th, but that’s typical of me this time of year.

Sometimes I spontaneously cry while I’m driving, lost in thought. Or now, while I’m writing. I hadn’t written anything in weeks, until a few days ago when the urge struck like lightning. I realized I needed to do *something* productive and gods know I hadn’t submitted anything new to BLUNTmoms in a while. My novel… its characters and story line have finally started calling me back and it’s a welcoming sound. A new work, a children’s book, is beginning to form into something tangible.

I have things to focus on. Direction. Purpose.

I needed this sort of normalcy more than I could have imagined. And I know I have to keep moving forward or else I’ll drown before I can set foot on the shore.

“Fake It Till You Make It” is officially my new mantra. Go through the motions pretending you’re okay, and eventually, you will discover that you are.

I hope.

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6 thoughts on “A Bitter Change of Season

  1. Jolyn Bush says:

    You’re absolutely right, and I’m glad, relieved, that you are where you are at this point. It’s a shocking realization to experience one’s epitome of anger. It can be consuming. Thank the gods that it’s only temporary and your characters and motivations are calling out to you. Wise advice from an old seer-friend, (Something that I’ve not always done, but try to.): Listen to your angels.

    • It can be consuming, absolutely. When I ripped the toilet lid from the seat in the upstairs bathroom a week ago (half of it had broken already – it kept falling off to the side or flopping down and I’d finally had enough of its bullshit), I did it with so much rage that I had to laugh at myself afterwards. Really? I’m taking my anger out on a toilet? Ridiculous. It shows itself in moments when I least expect it to. Unless it’s in the drop-off lane at the school… I totally expect it then because people are assholes and they deserve all the rage I can muster. It’s almost therapeutic.

  2. Cliches are so annoying right now. I remember hating how people would say “Time heals all wounds” or “It’ll be OK” or my all time favorite, “How are you doing?” I know they all meant well, but I hated it. I didn’t want to heal, it’s NOT OK and I was doing terrible. I was so angry. Angry at the whole world. My mother was really worried. Something about screaming at the top of my lungs through tears that nothing mattered while trying to drive somewhere. But I also still remember the first time I laughed. For real. Not a fake one for show. But an actual laugh. It took quite a while, but it felt good. Tears are streaming down my cheeks right now. She died November of 2000. Life is not the same. Never will be. But it’s do-able. And in everything I do, I’m so happy she was there for me and helped shape who I am. Fake it til you make it sounds about right. I am reminded of what Tom Hanks’ character said on Cast Away and how he made it through the hard times. “Just breathe.” Sometimes that’s all we can muster. And it’ll have to do. Just breathe. Love you Ali.

  3. Hi Alison,

    Your post drew me right in and tugged at my emotions throughout. I’m sorry for your loss. Your question makes perfect sense to me, even if I cannot offer an answer.

    I lost a brother almost seven years ago. I wrote about it 4 years later — tying to make sense of it all, just like you.

    http://raycolon.com/blog/2013/03/02/etching-granite/

    ps I found my way here by Googling your name from your comment in the blogmut forum.

    • Hi Ray,

      I’m so sorry for your loss, as well. I think it’s something that only those of us who have gone through it can understand. I don’t know if we ever really do, actually. Some days I think I’ve made peace with it and before I know it, something triggers those emotions all over again. It’s rough, and it’s incredibly unfair.

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