I forgot I have a dead brother

There was a two year age gap between me and my brother, M. It wasn’t a conventional brother sister relationship. We never fought over toys, we never beat one another up, we never competed for attention, we never pretended we didn’t know one another at school, we never pooled our pocket money together to buy presents for our parents and we never spoke.

M couldn’t speak so we never had a two way conversation. He couldn’t walk so we never ran around in the park or raced one another. He couldn’t feed himself so we never begged our parents to take us to McDonalds. He required round the clock care so there never was a question of competition for attention. He got it.

Being the sibling of a severely disabled brother is tough. To this day, any phone call post 11pm fills me with fear – someone must be on the brink of death. I lost count of the number of times it happened yet he pulled through. I watched my parents grieve constantly, although that grief evolved as he moved through life. When M finally died, aged 16, I was at university with my mother and grandmother visiting. Mum told me the news, I cried, and then promptly went off to perform a gig with my a cappella group. After, the girls sat in a circle in tears as I broke the news.

Ten years on, few people know I have a dead brother. My friendship group has shifted so much. Twice. During my father’s speech at mine and wife’s wedding, it came as a surprise to many to hear that I had a dead brother. He has shaped me so much, teaching me how success isn’t all about money and fame, and that not everything is plain sailing, yet I don’t talk about him much. Heck, I forget him. However, I still grieve for him. I get teary. I’m in a pub and my eyes are watering just thinking about him. I want to leave that pain behind.

I can go weeks without thinking about M. Possibly even more. My grief for him has been totally eclipsed by my grief for my wife. Will I forget about my grief for my wife? Will the people I’m with not know my history? Will she stop being on my mind every single day? I hope so, yet I don’t. She’s not on my mind all the time like in the early days of agonising wailing on the floor like a madwoman pain. Grief’s such a bitch full of conflicting emotions.

Life is good again, so will I leave all that pain behind me, live in the now?


3 thoughts on “I forgot I have a dead brother

  1. You ask an interesting question.

    But I think the answer is no, you won’t forget about your wife.

    There is something about choosing to love vs loving because you grew up with them that makes the grief and the remembering different.

    My siblings are not people I choose to love. We have nothing in common save a common upbringing. We aren’t friends. If something were to happen to one of them, I would cry, feel sad but it wouldn’t dog me like a shadow on a sunny day.

    We don’t like to admit it, but there is a hierarchy of importance.

    And we do, more or less, leave the pain behind us. The pain, imo, never changes. It just recedes and the distance makes it easier for us to manage. If we were to inspect it up close, however, it hurts just the same.

    But we stop doing that as time passes and we become more connected with living (like really doing it again rather than pretending) and we develop a disinclination to pick at the particular scar.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You will never forget. It’s important to cope with the loss and move on. They will always be with you, even if you don’t think about them every hour or every day. It’s important to let go if you want to move on with your own life. That doesn’t mean that you don’t miss them…


  3. Pingback: Ten years since my brother died | Eerily Cheerily

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