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Stuff – A Conversation One Year Later

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.


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Comments

  1. I just love you.

  2. Fifteen years later, I still think of conversations I wish I would have had with my dad. We talked a lot about “stuff” in those last days, but he left me with a reminder to not wait, to do it now. Your post reminded me of those words. Thanks for that.

  3. Beautiful post and such true words! It’s so hard when we all get caught up in life’s busy moments to remember how lucky we all are! Always live each day like it’s your last because as we all know, you just never know! Thanks for the reminder!

  4. You SOOOO deserve the summer you are having this year! What a beautiful and moving post Kristen.

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. Sometimes the grace of life is getting to live in the “stuff.” It is impossible to have every important conversation before it is too late. I imagine you gave your brother very happy moments speaking of the little things–like sports and family and vacations–that make a life one’s own.

  6. I’m so very sorry Kristen. Your words were so touching and thoughtful.

  7. Beautifully written. Regretting what you wish you would have said will probably always be there in the back of your head but I’m sure he’s looking down upon you knowing how you feel, feeling completely at peace himself. So sorry for your loss.

  8. This is such a great post! You are a wonderful sister.

  9. I wish I could say I know exactly how you’re feeling but I can’t, my perspective comes from the other side. I was initially diagnosed with cancer at the age of 34. I was six months out from going through a painful divorce and 1 month into meeting a wonderful man, all while trying to maintain my home and two young children. I went through surgeries, chemo, radiation and all that that entails, all while working.
    I was blessed, by my faith, my soul mate-who stood by me, my children, the wonderful medical personnel who treated me and life.
    I went on to re-marry, have two more beautiful children and then it hit me again 7 years later. Eleven years on from then I have lost my breasts, but I have gained so much more. Reflection on the past is bittersweet and I hope yours will always be filled with beautiful memories. My Past has gifted me with my Present, I’ll always be forever grateful.

  10. What a beautiful post—thank you for being brave enough to write it! I know all too well what it’s like to wish you took the time to have more meaningful conversations before it was too late. I would do anything to take back the conversations I had the day my brother died…it’s been three years and it’s still so hard.

    Thank you for writing this!

  11. This really stuck with me “I wonder how this past year has changed me. How will I let this change me? ” It’s true, we chose to let things change us, either good or bad it doesn’t just happen to us. Thank you for reminding me that we have a choice.

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  14. You have a good conversation and I like the flower.

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