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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

He would have been 39 today~

Today would have been my brother, Donnie's, 39th birthday. The following is a journal entry that I made on the ninth anniversary of his death. I still miss him but have come to know that he is in a better place and appreciate that all things Do work together for good to them that love The Lord. There is a peace deep inside of me that I never had. This can be a sad read, so do not feel obligated to read it.

Much love and many hugs....Phyl

*****

Tribute to Donnie(my brother who died in 1992)
Today, July 19, 2001, at precisely 3:19 p.m. I held in my arms a tiny male infant, only 2 months old. The time is important because at that very moment my brother, Donnie, had been dead 9 years.

Irony? I think not. Rather I think it quite fitting that I would be quietly celebrating life and all of its miracles as that dreaded time rolled around. Time unfortunately,or is it fortunately, stops for no one.

Although I know Donnie is in a much better place, I find I still miss him. What I would give to feel his arms wrapped around me in a hug!

I have allowed myself permission to mourn...miss him. I allow myself the pain....sometimes sharp, sometimes dull, some times it sneaks me, sometimes I know it is coming.

Never once in the 32 years prior to Donnie's dying did I ever consider that I would live life minus a sibling. Not once did it occur to me what it must be like to bury someone birthed from the same womb, raised in the same house, as I was.

I do know that once faced with that horrid reality, I thought I would never draw another pain-free breath in this life time...I was convinced I would never live another "normal" day. Everyday life without Donnie in it just didn't seem a realistic possibility.

I hurt, I ached, I cried. Due to the nature of the wreck...it was on a motorcycle...his body was in such shape that it would have been easy for me to deny that it was in fact Donnie's. Somehow, though, even in the deep dispairs of my grief I KNEW that I had to find him in there. I knew the importance of my own healing and that healing began with acceptance of the most horrendous fact imaginable to me at that time.

Could I do it? Could I find my Donnie in that swollen excuse for a corpse? If so, then could I forgive God for taking him and Donnie for allowing himself to die? Could I work through this pain to any sense of healing? When I had originally heard the news my heart literally ripped...I screamed from the torturous pain. Could anything hurt this bad? Why my 23 year old brother? I reminded God of the fact that Daddy was older and that he would not be missed nearly as bad as Donnie...and then asked him why he let my Dad be here this long anyway. Why didn't he take Dad and leave Donnie here?

The next few days were a blur for a long time. I counted minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, then years...all relevant to the time and date that Donnie had left this planet. I thought time would never again not be related to that one event in my life.

I remember going to Mom's for 2 weeks afterwards and lying on her couch looking up at the pictures of all of us kids. Next thing I knew, I was sobbing as my Mom held me. I recognized the hand in the picture as the same one in that damned casket.

Later, Alan told me that the undertaker had shared concern that they would not be able to have any of Donnie's body out from under the cover, as he had suffered terrible road rash. Alan explained to him that having his hand and arm out were mandatory to those of us left behind. Our family has always been and will always be a great bunch of huggers...the guys always did the manly thing and shook hands before hugging. Sure enough with the help of the undertaker and a long sleeved white shirt, we were able to clutch Donnie's hand one final time.

I remember frantically-almost maniacally-searching through hundreds of photographs until I found one of just Donnie and I together. Try as I did, I couldn't remember his face before the wreck, couldn't feel his arms wrapped around me, couldn't see his smile, or hear his voice. I HAD to know that he HAD been and that he loved me. I found a picture finally-one of him with his arms wrapped around me-baby and all. He and I were giggling. It was wonderful to see...somehow soothing my ravaged heart.

I was so mad...angry that my brother had died, angry that Alan had had to identify his body, angry that we lost Donnie, angry that it hurt so deeply...I even considered that Donnie had committed suicide. I was just good and ole mad!

Fearing that I would never function again, I sought counseling through my church. I know that nothing short of God's love, comfort, grace and mercy that pulled me through that time. I also learned that while screaming,"Why?!?!?!?!?", at the heavens may be therapeutic, there isn't always an answer.

As the old adage goes--time heals all wounds. Lord knows, how I hated all of those polite, trite sayings that folks would spit out when they could think of nothing else to say instead of just sitting in the uncomfortable-ness with me. I can only hope that I was not rude. Thing is...no one could comfort me. I cried when I needed to cry, bitched when I needed to bitch, felt sorry for myself when I needed to, and screamed when I needed to scream. I also prayed constantly. I knew that I had to work through this. I do so appreciate those patient people who allowed me to share my pain with them...and those who carried it for me when it was too much to bear. I talked and talked and talked about Donnie...the gory details of the wreck, how horrendous his body looked, and constantly recounted as it came back to me the awful details of that horrible week.

By the time the third anniversary (is there an appropriate word???) rolled around, I noticed some healing. I was crying less often and for shorter periods of time. I was able to recall with a smile or giggle some of the times Donnie and I had shared. I could see his face, feel his hug, hear his voice. I knew I was getting better.

Today, as I write this, it has been 9 years...I don't know how many months, weeks, days, hours, or minutes. I have "normal" days....)whatever that is:)! I got to the point during that 3rd year, where I gave myself permission to not be miserable, to forgive God and Donnie, and to not feel quilty because I was still alive.

Even though my heart will never totally heal, it is now capable of having "Donnie" moments without ripping further and with time and age I have concluded that all is as it should be.

Our Mom never recovered from losing Donnie; it was not possible to focus on her "4 living children". She simply could not accept that Donnie was no longer here. Three years ago, she too left this planet. As I held her hand and she drew her final breath, I released her to go to Donnie. I miss her...but I know that she, too, is in a better place, at peace and whole again. What more could I wish for loved ones?

Within the first week of losing Donnie, everyone of of his siblings and our Mom heard this song-at separate times-and all of us immediately thought of him.

Jesus And Mom Will Always Love Me

Made a wish upon a star:
I could have a brand new car
Got tired of wishing, so
I stole one.
Twenty-three* and knew it all
My dreams were big but, my thoughts were small.
So many roads,
somehow, I chose the wrong one.

Jesus and Mom will always love me
even when the devil took control.
Jesus and Mom will always love me...
this I know.

I felt trapped most all my life
found new kinds of lows and highs
Never been a husband,
but I've had a lot of wives to hold me.
Headstrong, stubborn,
couldn't be told
like a wild horse that couldn't be rode...
a rainbow chaser hungry for gold
and still searching.

Jesus and Mom will always love me
even when the devil took control.
Jesus and Mom will always love me...
this I know.

I wish Mom could see me now,
how I've turned it all around...
lately I've been going down the right road.
Like a picture that you paint
with blues and grays and cans of paint.
Heaven knows,
I'm not a saint but I know...

Jesus and Mom will always love me
even when the devil took control.
Jesus and Mom will always love me...
this I know.
Note:
The song is by "Confederate Railroad" and it reminds all of us of Donnie.
*I took the liberty of changing "17" to "23".

14 comments:

Simply Heart And Home said...

What a lovely tribute to your dear brother. May God fill each passing day with sweet memories of the times you shared together.

Gina

Nicole said...

It's amazing how the hurt can stay so long, isn't it? I hear/feel your pain in this ninth anniversary account of what you went through after his death.

You're such a good writer, and I haven't been around your blog too long, so perhaps you've already done this. But, I wonder, have you written a love story about Donnie as you knew him in life? I bet you could make him come alive for those of us who did not get to know him.

=)

Candace said...

I'm sorry for your loss. As we get older loss is inevitable, but I know that it was too soon for your brother. The loved ones we have lost are in a better place, but we can't help but miss them.

Mike Golch said...

that is such a loveing tribute to your Brother. just know that he is safely home in God's hands and you will see him again.I keep telling myself that about Mom (2003) and Dad(1984),gone but never forgotten.

Amanda said...

Hope you can spend the day thinking of all the good times. It's always hard on the anniversary of a death - my father will have been dead 20 years on 9th May - but I always make an effort to something especially nice on those days. That way I still remember,but the pain gets less.

luvmy4sons said...

I am so sorry about your brother. We never know how long we will have our loved ones. Praying that Jesus will continue to minister to you through this anniversary!

mamichelle said...

That is such a sad story. We had something similar happen in my family but it was my uncle, my mom's only brother. He was 22 or 23 and got in a motorcycle accident. He left behind 8 sad sisters and two great parents.

Big hugs to you during this sad anniversary time. I can't imagine losing one of my brothers.

Storm said...

Thanks for sharing. Prayers being said for peace.

Carin said...

Phyl, I am deeply touched by the love you have for your brother. I am glad that it is easier for you with the passage of time.
HUGS Carin

Chuck said...

Oh my - your first paragraph is moving, but I couldn't go further. I now am getting so close to my brother - he's 44. I don't think I could handle it simply because I have such stupid phobias.

Good to see you again though, Phyl. Hope you're doing well and thx for visiting me while I was gone. I plan to get out more...see ya again soon. *Lots of Lov'n* coming your way.

SaoirseDaily2 said...

This was a nice heartfelt post. I have known loss, and I know how it hurts. I wish you peace and enjoy your memories.

Every Wednesday night we gather around the phyre (fire) and just chat. Next Wednesday please join us, the link is on my page.

Thank you for the kind words about the art I share. I am always on the search for new and interesting things to share.

Jay said...

wow what touching blog . That song was just the right thing to help you heal . you meet him again one day. Love ya

storyteller said...

This is such a poignant sharing about the loss of your brother … taken directly from the pages of your journal … written in the ‘moment’ with all your ‘raw’ feelings richly present. Death of loved ones is never easy to fathom … nor digest. Reading your words makes me wonder what I wrote at the time of my brother’s death. I suspect it’s much different than the more ‘detached’ piece I shared last week at Small Reflections. I’m sorry for the loss of Donnie (and of your Mom). Thanks for sharing.
Hugs and blessings,

Cute Girl aka Allie said...

i think i have to vote with fortunately time does not play favorites... isn't it another trite saying that only the good die young. for what it's worth in my personal life, i needed grandpa to stay around long enough to get to him and tell him how i felt even if he couldn't hear me or know what i was saying. I am sad by the days that the only thing i can remember is a smile and silky curly hair with a huge smile underneath. However, in my heart I know grandma would not have gone to heaven if she had not been greeted by uncle donnie when she got there. stubborn old broad :) this is a beautiful remembrance of uncle donnie, let alone any gone loved one. You are an amazing writer when you tap into that huge heart of yours. I love you and they do too... death CANNOT take that from you