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.