A year ago this week, I was sitting in a hospital room next to my brother, just shooting the breeze. I had learned of his diagnosis just a few days earlier, and yet, even though I knew it was cancer, I still felt like everything would be just fine.
Our conversation was so completely normal. We talked a lot about sports, which was something you could talk with Larry about any day, any time. I remember specifically asking him for advice about a baseball situation with Jacob, and I clearly remember his advice. I can’t sit at one of Jacob’s baseball games now without my brothers voice entering into my head.
This couple of hours in the hospital is what I think about when I think back to last summer. I think about our last “real”, normal conversation before cancer took it’s stronghold and quickly took my brother away from his family.
Shooting the breeze, in a hospital room, talking about nothing significant at all. Just stuff.
Sometimes I wish I could re-do that conversation… to say things more meaningful than what I did. I wish I could have told him that I was sorry about a few years before when things were really strained between us…all the hateful things I said to him during that time. I wish I would have told him how proud I was of him… how much I admired how hard he worked to give his family the life they had. I wanted to tell him that I think he turned into the most amazing dad, and along with his wife raised some of the best kids on this planet. I wish I would have told him that I was sorry I didn’t spend more time with him and that even though there were so many years between us, I had a lot of really funny and vivid memories of growing up with him as my brother.
One such memory is cemented in my head like yesterday…it was the middle of the night before Easter, and Larry was so gingerly hiding the Easter eggs, acting as the Easter bunny. I remember him telling my mom he wanted to get it “just so” because I was at a “critical age” and he didn’t want me to stop believing… only what he didn’t know was that I was peeking around the corner watching him the entire time. It was that night that I found out the Easter Bunny wasn’t real… but I didn’t let on. I never shared that story with him because on that day in the hospital and all the other days, we talked about “stuff”. I feel like we went through our whole relationship as brother and sister talking about “stuff”. Shooting the breeze…stuff.
A couple weeks later after that day in the hospital, he had gone down hill significantly, and exactly two months after the “stuff” conversation, he was gone.
Tonight, as I am on a high from a wonderful family weekend yet also in a fog because of the memories I am having from this past summer, I wonder how this past year has changed me. How will I let this change me? My husband and I drove home in silence today… we had over 4 hours of opportunity to talk about more than just stuff, but we were tired and zoned and moving through life with four kids, jobs and a busy calendar.
It’s easy to say “give grace”, “live like there’s no tomorrow”, “tell people you love them” but doing it… moving beyond just “stuff’ is hard sometimes. It takes time, it takes a lot of effort and sometimes it takes a conversation, or lack thereof, to give you that gentle push into reminding you how quickly things can change. Tomorrow is a new day and I want it to be a turning point – a tuning in point – because we never know when there might be another chance to say what we want to say.