On February 4th, 2017, my brother was killed in a head on motorcycle collision. He was one month short of 54 years old. I flew down the next morning to take care of my elderly mother who had taken in my brother after there had been issues in his marriage and in his life. She had always been a safe place for him to fall to, much as she has always been there for me. Now, I had to be there for her.
For the next week, I helped her plan and keep busy. Neil was her oldest child and she was taking this very hard. I have said this to all those who know me, but the scream of her anguish when she told me he was gone is burned in my memory forever. Now I hear it when my own children leave the house, when I close my eyes and she comes to mind, or when I’m sitting here thinking about my brother.
Neil was 18 years older than me. We weren’t close. While my mom was raising me he was raising his five children. He didn’t have the ability to be an older brother and I was too busy being a selfish brat to recognize that I could reach out to him. Isn’t that what teenagers are? But over the years he taught me many things. Neil spoke at my baptism when I was eight-years-old, teaching me about the Holy Ghost and the faith it requires to have the whisperings of the Spirit guide you. When I was a teenager he took me on a walk around our neighborhood (he happened to be visiting) and talked to me about the slippery slope of immorality and how easy it is to fall. He was always there to help me when I had a car question. He was a phenomenal father, always sacrificing to give his children every opportunity he could and I in turn am my children’s loudest cheerleader and advocate, largely in part because of his example.
What I’m most grateful for was my brother’s loving care for my mom. While she had taken him in when life got hard, as any mother would do, he was there for her in her loneliness. Mom puts on a tough exterior but at 74, she’s very lonely in her solitude. I’m in another state and can’t always be there for her, and having Neil with her to celebrate holidays and then for the everyday “mom” things like making him breakfast meant the world to her. Since he’s passed, she and I have had many conversations about what her everyday is going to look like and how she won’t be alone on holidays.
Five days after my brother died, I flew home to my husband and children in Utah. I was exhausted, mentally and emotionally. I’m grateful that God allowed me to be strong to help my Mom, but now it was time for me to take a deep breath and allow myself to think about my brother and what he meant to me. I needed to mourn him. My husband’s work was so gracious as to give him time off to be with me, which gave me the strength to let go and let loose. Death has always been one of those things that I don’t deal well with and I needed his strength.
And now it has been a week since I’ve been home. I’ve pretty much gotten back into my normal everyday routine. I even made bread this week! Regular posts will resume next week. I’ve got great plans coming for the blog – including a penny-pinching feature that even college students can use! Thank you for being so understanding that this week simply wasn’t going to be the norm for me. I appreciate the private messages I’ve received over Facebook from those who knew what was going on.
I know I’ll see my brother again and that he knows how much I love him. I’m grateful for my faith. It sustains me.