It’s been a while since I’ve written. And really, not for any tragic or dramatic reason. Nothing’s happening… except that it’s May.
I’ve started a few posts in the last week, but only one of them made it to your screen. The most recent draft was full of complaints – so much so that I actually titled it, “No One Likes a Complainer”. For realsies.
I’ve been on myself about this… why am I not writing? I’m sure I have something to say. And I’ve got a few minutes to bang something out too, so.. why not? And then it hit me:
You may be wondering what the month has to do with anything. Well, really: May’s a big month for me. In fact, it’s not really the whole month, but rather just a couple of days in short succession. To be sure, there’s good and bad in those days. But still; it’s a lot of emotion to process in 3 days. Generally it takes up my whole month.
On May 18, 2002, I was at a friend’s house, playing board games with a bunch of other friends. We had a great night, and when all was said and done, MOMD & I went home to our apartment to call it a day. We were tucked in bed for the night, and about to be asleep when the phone rang.
It’s never good news when the phone rings at 1:00 in the morning.
It was my parents calling. They were at our life-long retreat (it was a trailer on Rice Lake, north and east of Cobourg that we always called “The Lake”) for the long weekend and were now making their way back to the city, following the ambulance that was carrying my brother. Could we meet them at Sunnybrook? Umm… yes. Yes we’ll be there.
We hung up the phone and called my sister who lived a few blocks away from us. We got a cab, went down to get her, and then all 3 of us went up to Sunnybook to meet my parents and my brother.
It’s funny the things you remember… moments of that night seems so clear to me. Like still photos in an album, except with emotion attached to them. The 3 of us (MOMD, my sister & I) got there before my parents, but at about the same moment that my brother arrived. We had been nervously joking in the cab that he had probably broken another bone, obviously seriously since he was being rushed to Toronto, and that all he really wanted was some attention. “That’s younger siblings for you,” was the overall tone. Because you see, we didn’t really know what had happened… My parents – who can blame them really – could not tell us the extent and severity of the accident. You know, I’m not even sure that they knew what had happened at the time.
Anyway. So we get to Sunnybrook and I overhear the emergency triage nurses talking about a patient who just arrived via ambulance, and I hear them say that his blood type is B. “HA!” I said to my sister, “Mom lied to everyone! I bet you’re type B too,” I said with a laugh. Why his blood type mattered, why I said my mom lied, is another story. I just remember this moment so vividly… so clearly… and I think it’s embedded in the fabric of that terrible morning because I was not grasping the severity of the situation.
Eventually my parents arrived, along with various and sundry cousins, aunts & uncles. No one knew what the outcome would be, but I think that some of them had a better idea than I did. It was 2:35 in the morning when a chaplin and a doctor came to the waiting room to talk to us. They saw everyone there, and decided to ask the “family” to come with them. So we went – Dad, Mom, Amanda, me & Mitchell. Actually initially Mitchell stayed behind: it was just my parents, my sister & I. Then my Dad said, “Go get Mitchell, he’s family.” So I ran back to get him.
Never has a hospital corridor seemed so long…
We were taken to an operating room. Glenn was there, lying on a table. I think he was in a hospital gown, although I really do not remember what he was wearing. This is where the night moves from a photo-like memories to images trapped under water, shimmering and shifting, with sound sometimes penetrating the barrier. I imagine this is the effect of shock.
His face was bruised, and his eyes were protruding so badly… like they were trying to get out of his head. The doctor – a neurologist – said a lot of things. I remember him saying phrases like “sustained blow to the head”, “swelling on the brain”, “not reducing”, “fatal”. I remember my Mom standing alone, stroking Glenn’s hand… I remember my sister falling to the floor, sobbing, clinging to my Dad’s legs… I remember that I did not know what “fatal” meant when the doctor said it. I remember at some point Mitchell moved to my Mom’s side, put his arm around her… I remember we didn’t want to leave him. We wanted to stay in that room so that we could wake up. So that we could leave this awful dark place and return to our honest and real realities. Because this? This was hell.
We didn’t want to go back to the waiting room. We didn’t want to have to see all those loving faces, fear and knowing in their eyes, and tell them that Glenn was dying…
We didn’t wake up. It’s been almost 10 years now that he’s been gone. We know this reality now. That our kids will only know who he is from our telling of him, from pictures, and sometimes we’ll see him in them. That’s probably the hardest, good thing about genetics. Although I don’t know what I’ll do if this baby I’m carrying is born with his eyes… that might be a little much for me to handle.
Although there was a time when I would have said loosing my brother would be more than I could handle. And 10 years later, I’m still here, handling the situation as best I can. I suppose that if she has his eyes (which, incidentally are also my Mom’s eyes) then I’ll get through that too.
I started out telling you that there are good things in May: there are. On May 18 one of my longest and dearest friends was born. On May 19, my brother died. On May 20, I married MOMD. So you see, there’s a lot of emotion packed into May. You’ll forgive me, I know, if my posts are erratic and then emotionally charged when they do happen. Because really: it’s just May.