23 years ago today, my brother died.
My family life growing up was never "normal" but this put us well into the dysfunctional category.
When he died my Mom, sister grandmother and I were in New York City. At the same show I saw just yesterday with my children and some friends.
My mother, queen of all secrets, did not want my grandmother to know the extent of his illness. My father, I'm not sure whether he was overcome be grief or out of allegiance to Mom, refused to tell us that he died, even when asked directly multiple times. (My Mom had immediately flown west to be with his widow). My Aunt, who hadn't been in the loop on how sick D was, broke the news to us, with my grandmother's wails coming from the living room, where my Uncle was informing her.
I don't think I ever forgave my mother for putting my sister and me in such a terrible position of knowing all about D's illness, without being allowed to mention it to family, especially my grandmother. Mom claimed it was because she couldn't handle my grandmother's sorrow and worries on top of her own. My belief is that it was a combination of a power trip and shame.
I'll never really know if this is true, but his death seems to have been the subconscious trigger of many subsequent life choice. At 15 I was at an impressionable age. How/why does any of this really matter to me now - a 38 year old mother of 2 in suburbia? I have now outlived him by 5 years. He lived in a different world from me. But it does.
I am still working out in my head all this old anger. For one, I hate secrets of any kind! Nothing makes me more angry than when people hide things from me.
Let's just hope that this residual anger and fear of loss doesn't dominate my relationship with my two (thankfully) healthy and fantastic kids. My greatest fear is losing them! It is built upon seeing my mother's devastation 23 years ago today.
Yesterday I was in NYC at the same theater that I was at 23 years ago. We take our kids to the Radio City Christmas Show every year. Every year I remember that I had been there when D was dying. I still go. It is proof that life goes on. But I still cry - just little - during every performance, and yesterday was no exception.
I wish you were here, D! You'd be 56... but instead you are forever young to those who remember you.