I wrote much of this post in July 2015:
I spent a lot of the day with my brother, Jim, reading prayers he liked (Psalms), ones I like (Buddhist), telling him I love him, talking to him about family, telling him his love for me was always something I cherished, that we would make sure his wife of 52 years is okay. After I said good-bye I wandered around Costco and waited for a storm to pass while I nibbled samples and bought nuts and energy bars for the road. And waited for a nephew from another brother, Roger, to call me. He did not call. So I just went out to his house and found him there. I do not understand everything about the way he is living, but he has had to cope with so much all on his own. His dad had dementia for a quite a while longer than I knew before he really began to physically deteriorate. My nephew took the brunt of it. I offer support as best I can, but I have never been close or a real part of his life and he heard his dad’s paranoid rants about me, and everyone else, for much of his life.
I am really tired, and the closing of some of the last of the doors to my natal family promises a kind of sad peace. It is sad as when there is no one with whom to share memories of a time; the time becomes less and less real.
I only have my husband and daughter, the rest of my immediate family is gone. I am so very proud of my daughter and will do nothing to impede her progress. I’m glad we have a good relationship. Seeing her once or twice a year at best, is so very difficult. Hubby and I have settled into a quiet friendship. Different interests, but again no terror. I lived in terror and in full tilt fight or flight mode for so much of my life, I cannot go there ever again.
So much has happened this past week. A week ago I said good-bye forever to my eldest and last surviving brother. He died on Weds at 3:25 a.m. I was in Chicago with my daughter. I picked her up at O’Hare on Monday evening and had dinner with long time friends of mine. Tuesday we went wedding dress shopping. Wednesday we met another friend who happened to be in Chicago-land for drinks and dinner. Thursday we drove to visit my daughter’s fiancee’s and my grand dogs place in Minneapolis. Friday was a fun day and we took in the Walker Art Center. Saturday I woke up with a migraine and scrapped any plans for driving to eastern Indiana that day for my brother’s funeral as driving on the medication I take for migraines is not safe. By today I realized I could not endure the 12 plus hour drive to Indiana, through Chicago, with the tail end of a headache and the nasty weather that is moving through MN to IN today.
The truth be told, I would take little to no comfort from attending my brother’s funeral. I said good-bye a week ago. I have the feeling he moved on Tuesday but his body did not cease functioning until Wednesday. I do not understand all the preoccupation with, and preservation of, the bodies of loved ones. It seems barbaric to me. I just do not want to remember my brother as a dead body. I would take no comfort from a Fundamentalist Christian Service. Most often they, from my experience, have been more about hellfire and damnation than love and the departed person. I doubt that I could provide much comfort to my brother’s widow or sons.
I hope no one will think me to be a horrible person for not attending the funeral of my brother. Tomorrow I will stop at the time of his service, wherever I am, and meditate on his life.
I did stop that day at a state park with a lake, fishing, playgrounds, campgrounds, stables and riding trails. It was the kind of place that my brother Jim would have loved taking his family when everyone was so much younger. I cried. I sang. I meditated and listened to the jumping of frogs and fish, and the whish of wings and bird song. I recorded some of the quiet sounds so I can listen whenever I need to commune with his spirit.
It is now much later in the year, November 6th to be precise, and the All Souls Procession will be on Sunday evening, two days hence. It will be a year that I have mourned my brother Roger. My brother Jim has traveled away from this life for almost four months. I found a picture of them both together, with Roger as a little kid, and Jim as a teenager, sitting together cuddling, before I was even born, that I will carry in the procession this year.
Did I tell you that I found out last year, on the way to the procession, that Roger was gone? The procession will always hold a special place for me.
This is what I will carry in the procession.
This year I walk to remember and honor the two brothers I lost this past year. Another year I will include a portrait of all my brothers including the two brothers who passed on earlier, Max, who I lost in 2005 – ten long years ago, and Dave, who passed on in 1998. Of course I walk remembering them all along with my parents, and cousins, and aunts and uncles. But this year I walk to help me say goodbye and to honor the most recently passed who have joined with my other brothers in the land of the departed.
Ruth Curran says
I am filng this piece under “Even better the second time”! You inspire me to carve away at those pieces of history that shaped me not to unearth hidden meanings or to practice some kind of self discovery but to honor them, however that feels right!
Ruth Curran recently posted…A Challenging Word Puzzle That Force You to “Be Complicated”
Nancy Hill says
It took me such a long time to get to the place of honoring. It is worth the effort.
Carol Cassara says
You did justice to your brother with your way of remembering him. Funerals are for the living but you? You honored the dead.
Nancy Hill says
Thanks Carol. Honoring is what I most care about, although helping the living grieve is important too.
Lois Alter Mark says
You totally paid tribute to your brother by remaining true to yourself and honoring him in a way that was significant to you. I hope the All Souls Procession brings peace to you and you feel your brothers with you on the way.
Lois Alter Mark recently posted…“joni mitchell: in her own words”
Nancy Hill says
I hope so too Lois. Thanks.
Corinne Rodrigues says
What a meaningful way to honour your brothers, Nancy. It must be hard to be the only surviving sibling. The procession will be a great way of connecting to their spirits.
Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…25 Inspirational Quotes On Creativity
Nancy Hill ( says
Corinne, It was meaningful. I’m so glad I did it!
Nancy Hill ( recently posted…“Doing” Gets Easier with Each “Done”