Monday, July 23, 2012

Thirteen years

I am not normally too serious or morose, but today is a sad anniversary.  Thirteen years ago, my older brother Gabe passed away very suddenly.  I often find myself wanting to talk to him, so I decided that today, I would write him a letter.  If you like, you are welcome to read it too.  Maybe you will be able to get a glimpse of him and know how much he is loved and missed.


Thirteen years ago today, my life changed.  For the first time, my heart was truly broken, never to be the same. You left us.  Without a goodbye.  A part of me is still so angry that you are gone.  You were there for all these important events in my life and then suddenly, there is an emptiness. 
When Dad called to tell me, I couldn't even figure out what he was saying.
He was very blunt - "Gabe died."
I said, "Who?"
I was sure I had heard him wrong. He had to repeat himself a few times before it sank in.  He had to say "Gabe, your brother," before it registered. 
The next few hours, days, weeks, are all just a blur.  Trying to get a hold of people who should know, comforting others, being comforted.  It was all in a daze.  Having to plan your funeral (which turned into an ugly family fight), figuring out how to explain to your little girl, joking about how many women were going to show up at the funeral and throw themselves on the coffin.  The shock, the pain, the disbelief.  I would look around at everyone - the aunts, uncles, cousins - and I kept looking for you.  There was a blinding rage in me.  I was mad at you, I was mad at God, I was mad at the EMT's for not saving you, I was mad at your girlfriend for not taking better care of you, I was just MAD!
Of course, mixed with all the anger was a healthy dose of denial.  The phone would ring on my birthday and I would expect to hear your voice apologizing for forgetting to get me a present.  I would see someone in the mall that looked like you and I would hesitate and do a double take.  I would make up outrageous stories in my head, stories where you never really died.  But, denial is short lived.
I often wonder what you would think of my life today.  Would you be shocked that I have FOUR kids? I know you would adore them.  Sebastian reminds me so much of you.  You would have so much fun playing with them, teasing them, teaching them, just like you always did for me. 
Would you be surprised that I came back to the Church? Who would have thought that the know it all college girl who didn't have a need for religion would end up married to a future Deacon? You may be surprised, but I think you would also be happy.  You were always a man of great faith and you tried so hard to get me to understand how important it was. 
It is because of your great faith that I can write this letter, write the thoughts and feelings that are inside me, and know that our Lord shares them with you.  I know that we will meet again, in our eternal life.  But be prepared - I will probably need to give you a good punch on the arm since I am still mad at you for leaving too soon. 


Nathan Gonzales said...

This is the first time that I've completely forgotten the anniversary.

Gabe, I'm older than you now. I was also mad at you for some things.
1. Not taking care of your comic books. Turns out they're all movies now. I didn't take care of mine either. They were too fun to read.
2. When things got shitty growing up, you never once asked me how I was. On the other hand, when you lived in the condo with us, you were always bringing over beautiful women that would hang around in bathing suits at our pool. Teenage Nathan thanks you.
3. Dying long before I would be capable of talking to you and asking you all the questions little brothers ask about life.

I never got to know him as an adult. I never got to share any of my accomplishments with him, that I think he would have been proud of, or at least thought were cool. I watch every super-hero movie that comes out, regardless of how terrible I know it's going to be, because I know he would probably want to see it.
I was mad at Gabe for a long time, but I also owed him 60 bucks when he died. I slipped a 20 in the casket, because it's all I had, and he'll probably never get the other 40. We'll call it even. I can't believe I'm going to pay money to see ANOTHER spiderman movie.

Anonymous said...

I think both of you wrote something personal emotional and beautiful. Thank you both for sharing. And I do understand the anger part. I went through same thing with my dad.

Anonymous said...

Hey Gabe, should I tell them that at Mass while receiving the Holy Communion they can talk to you. Yes, of course first give thanks to Jesus then chat with you. Because God is for the living... All the saints, and our dearly departed who are in heaven. Talk to you and my Pops tomorrow morning at Mass. Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.