27 October, 2007

I miss my brother

I don't know why I do this to myself. I was browsing my mp3s to make a playlist for tonight and there it was, staring back at me. I know why it's there and I also know why I don't listen to it much. The song I'm writing about is Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." The reason I don't play it much is this. I cry every time I hear it. That song was a favorite of my brother, Mark. This coming February will be five years since he died. Every time I look through my music I see "Born to Run" sitting there, in the place assigned to it, the "B" section. I'll stare at it for a few minutes while I try and make up my mind whether or not to put myself through four minutes and thirty one seconds of guaranteed grief. The emotions that I experience while listening to that song are difficult to explain, but have been experienced by everyone at some time. I usually start out smiling, remembering the good times. Then the memory of his deteriorating health nudge their way in and I start to get misty eyed. Eventually, against my choice to not go there, I remember that he's gone. By this time I'm sobbing like a child. Mark was twelve years older than me which made him a prominent figure in my life. He'd been a diabetic since his early childhood. I didn't understand exactly what diabetes was until I was much older, but since I grew up around it, the things Mark went through were normal to me. The possibility that diabetes could kill him never really entered my mind. I knew that when he went into shock things were pretty scary, but he always came through. I can't remember when he moved out, but he was living in the next county for his last fifteen years or so. My mother would call him every night mainly to make sure he was awake and going to work. Sometimes he wouldn't answer and that caused quite a commotion. We wouldn't know whether he was in shock or just not answering because he was in the shower. Sometimes Mom would drive all the way there if he didn't answer the phone or call my sister because she lived in the same town. We all knew that Mark didn't like the "baby sitting" and we respected his desire for independence, but if we didn't do what we did, he could've been dead much earlier in life. Towards the end of his life there were a lot of drives to Mark's to pull him out of a reaction. It put a strain on everyone's lives but what could we do? We weren't going to let him die. After one particularly bad night I remember telling Mom that even though things can get scary at times, we'd miss them if Mark was gone. Unfortunately, I was right. One cold night at the end of February, 2003, Mark didn't answer his phone. My Mom drove up to Mark's place and found him in his bed. He'd slipped the bonds of this earth and was free of all the pain he'd been suffering. I was numb for the next few days. Nothing seemed to phase me much. I cried at his funeral but that was about it. That is, until we set about cleaning out his place and packing up his belongings. I was going through his desk, sorting through what was trash and what was going to be kept, when I found a letter from my late grandmother. I don't remember the specifics, but grandma was helping Mark through some tough times, offering encouragement etc. and I lost it. I couldn't stop crying and continued to do so for about half an hour. Going through the rest of his things was very difficult because each thing I saw only made me miss him even more. It's a terrible feeling when you miss someone so much and know that you'll never, ever see them again. I've only been to his grave twice. Even five years after his death it still hurts too much to go. When "Born to Run" comes through my headphones, everything I remember about Mark comes flooding back. Good and bad. I miss my brother.