Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ache

A phone call changed the entire course of your day. Your brother is sick. If you want to say goodbye, you need to get on a plane.  That night, you waited hours at a busy airport for a standby flight to take you to an unfamiliar city and an unfamiliar hospital. You just saw him a month ago and you spent a week talking about your childhood, where your lives have taken you, and countless memories in between. Now, sitting in the hard plastic seat of the terminal, you realize how unprepared you are. 

You spent your hours at the airport watching families. No one knew why you were there.  It made you realize that while many people get on planes to attend business meetings or reach vacation destinations, there are hundreds of other people getting on planes every day to say goodbye in late night whispers under the false and distressful light of hospital rooms.

You were the youngest and the only girl. Two older brothers who adored you but also knew you had a bit of spitfire in you. They were your first friends, your first confidantes. And also your first accomplices in many shenanigans around your neighborhood.  You had already lost one brother unexpectedly, and now there are no siblings left. Your family was small but complex in varying degrees. And this was the genesis of you instilling the significance of family in us at a very early age.  And the value of telling your family they are loved. Were any children told more often and more sincerely they are loved than we were?  

Both of your brothers packed up and stored their tiny hometown roots to seek out a bigger space, and liberation from a small town.  This brother lived on the Oregon coast most of his life. He and his wife didn’t have children but he certainly created space and opportunity for yours to come and visit. I believe he once told you he could teach you a thing or two about raising children. I know this involved sending your kids outside to pull weeds from the garden for about 8 straight hours. But he had a hidden candy jar not exactly well hidden. We both know that was the intent.

And then an unexpected ringing. Reminding us how quickly change presents itself, all within the narrow space of one phone call. I think of my own brothers and know I would hate that phone call. I know you hated it too.

But you went, and I am so glad you did. The last face and held hand in your brother's memory. But I am so sorry for your loss. Goodbye came abruptly and I wish you had more time. There is an ache in your veins no one can heal right now. A suffering even your kids and your friends can do little to diminish.  But it is ok to ache. The world doesn't need you to be fine with this right now.

I know you feel like ghosts are crowding into all the family pictures of your memory, but make space for them. Those two handsome ghosts had a lot of verve too. Your family history book isn't closed yet. And you, with all your love and brightness, still have much living to do. 

Your brothers and your parents are probably talking about you now. Laughing about how you used to do your hair around an orange juice can. Your family trips to the beach house. The serious crush you had on Robert Mitchum. Or how you used to tell the paperboy, Alger Vass that he had gass that came out his.....

And now, those guardians of yours will be watching future stories unfold saying, she is still a spitfire.  So live your life knowing you are very loved.  And give your brothers some more great stories to talk about....

I love you.

122 comments:

Simone said...

You are a wonderful writer JennyMac.....this was beautiful and, not for the first time, your writing brought tears to my eyes.

Most poignant for me was the image of the airport - so many going places and all for many different reasons.

You are one special girl :)

Hizzeather said...

Oh wow...powerful words that brought me to tears. My condolences.

secret agent woman said...

I don't think anything prepares you for the loss of a sibling. I can still feel the shock of the call telling me one of my brothers had drowned. It never occurred s to me that he might not be around my whole life.

Jules said...

What a heartfelt story. I'm sorry about your loss but thank you for sharing.

Sarah said...

Wow. I don't even have good or enough words for this. Beautiful.

ViSart-DaLi Designs said...

I am truly sorry for your lost. I have lost my father (54) 5 years ago, and I still some time cry at nights.

the walking man said...

There is nothing more to say to this bracing support. Well said JennyM.

Dustjacket Attic said...

This makes you ache inside, so very painful...makes me think about my own brother...I don't want to lose him.
xoxo

Maria said...

So sorry to hear of this loss...Saying goodbye is ALWAYS hard, but with memories gathered throughout a lifetime, healing will come; the ache will lessen. Thinking of you and yours...

SmartBear said...

How beautiful written, yet sad. Thanks for sharing. I always feel so honored when folks can share something so raw and honest.

Brian Miller said...

sobering thought this morning...it all goes so quick...

My name is PJ. said...

When you write, each finished piece is perfect in its own right and made in a size that magically fits each of us. Even those that we're somehow afraid to get close to and try on.

The tear generator in my heart was in overdrive this morning when I read this, JMac...because there always has to be a lone survivor.

Beautiful. Poignant.

Busy Bee Suz said...

This is very touching and written with heart.
My heart aches for her as well.

Brandi said...

Very well written. I am sorry for your loss!

Lauren said...

Beautifully put! I have gotten that phone call and sat in that airport before and there is no worse feeling.

kilax said...

I am so sorry :( Sending big hugs!

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

Your friend is very lucky to have you.

*uncorked said...

Beautiful and heartbreaking. You have such a way with with words and making them come to life. My condolences.

Chez Zizi said...

Never have I felt so in touch with words that completely describe how I feel. You brought me to tears reminding me of my own phone call, only my brother was already gone.

My condolences and I understand.

You are an absolutely amazing writer.

Zizette

Mommakin said...

Oh, the stories in an airport...

Beautifully expressed.

The Mommyologist said...

This was so beautifully written! I am so sorry for your loss.

Menopausal New Mom said...

Your post made tears stream down my cheeks. I have done that trip, by car for nearly 3 hours to be by my own little brother's side as he took his last breaths.

He was only 32. Life was not fair to him, that was 12 years ago and I am still mad as hell for his suffering, that he lost his precious life, I still hurt as much as I did then.

Time does NOT heal all wounds. Some wounds are too deep to ever heal. This is a pain that I will carry along with the wonderful memories of an outstanding brother that I grew up with.

Ginny said...

(I want to comment, but nothing worthy of your writing today comes to mind.) As a writer, I know how such an intimate piece brings both comfort and aching for the reader and writer. It is truly beautiful.

M@ said...

this is something no one wants to understand, and yet you make it so easy with your words. My condolences.

Slamdunk said...

I'm sorry to hear about this loss, and thank you for sharing it with such an inspirational post. My condolences.

Linda said...

Jenny I got that call about my Dad and I waited in the airport so sad and knowing I might not make it, I didn't he passed moments before I got to his bedside. His spirit was still there and I did get my last goodbye. I am sorry for your loss and I know the love you have for family will help you.

Plentymorefishoutofwater said...

A really moving post. And brilliantly written.
*Read about my dating disasters at plentymorefishoutofwater*

singedwingangel said...

My heart goes out to you and I send you lots of hugs. Beautifully worded and written...

Liza said...

I know you wrote this for someone...you did it beautifully.

Laoch of Chicago said...

A very sorrowful and evocative dirge.

Chic Mama said...

A beautiful post which must have been so hard to write. x

Shorty said...

Such an eloquent piece. Thank you for sharing. All my best to you and your family.

Rita/Fighting Off Frumpy said...

I'm so sad for the person you intended this for. It reminds me of my mother, who lost both of her brothers tragically within three months of each other. I wish she'd had a friend like you at the time ... someone to understand and sympathize the way you do.

Beautiful. :)

MJW said...

You are a wonderful writer! Never stop writing! Sorry to hear about your loss. :( Sending prayers and happy thoughts your way!

Mandy's Life After 30 said...

I'm very sorry for the passing that has hit close to home. Writing a post like this one is a wonderful way to honor the memory. I know that thousands of virtual tears and hugs are being sent toward Atlanta and Oregon today....

Pricilla said...

My condolences to whomever you have written this for. She is lucky to have you.

a H.I.T. said...

I have goosebumps just reading this - my mind immediately went to my own siblings and our memories together. Life is too short. I hope everything is OK and this was just a beautifully written post reminding us that we should live our lives to the fullest. Either way, my thoughts are with you.

Susan Erickson said...

One of my best friends lost both of her brothers as well. The loss is so enormous and painful. Life IS short..or loved ones SO inportant to us...CHERISH your family. LOVE keeps us strong. My condolences,,,,

Doula said...

Having just lost my older brother this past Christmas, I know just how she feels. It definitely puts life into perspective. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your friend.

Elle said...

What a powerful, touching post. I have tears in my eyes. Having lost my baby sister a little over two years ago, I understand this ache.

ShellSpann said...

I wish I had the words....but I don't.

Just know that this brought tears to my eyes and it was written so beautifully.

WannabeVirginia W. said...

I am so sorry for your loss. You've shared that with the rest so beautifully.

Leiah said...

Such a beautiful tribute. As someone with a father battling cancer and a brother who's a drug addict, I live with the daily fear of that call. Condolences to your friend but also congratulations to winning the friendship lottery when she got you.

staceyjwarner said...

wonderfully poignant and the distance created for protection by using "you"...sending you love

The Boob Nazi said...

I couldn't imagine all my siblings and my parents being dead. I'm glad she got to say goodbye.

The Bug said...

I remember sitting on the plane when I was headed to visit my mother for the last time - & thinking that all of those people just had no idea what I was flying to...

"The world doesn't need you to be fine with this right now." - this is so true - & something that all people who grieve need to hear...

Snafugirl said...

This literally gave me chills. Beautifully written!

~Snafugirl
http://snafuliving.blogspot.com/

Bossy Betty said...

Beautifully written and so moving....

Just Add Walter said...

thank you for sharing this.. it is so true. We need to spend every second we can with the ones we love because you never know when it could be too late. So sorry for your loss.

Leah Rubin said...

You said it all so beautifully. This is a wonderful reflection of your inner strength and your loyalty and friendship. Your ability to write it in such a way, and touch so many hearts, is nothing less than amazing. I can't imagine anyone reading with with dry eyes... I'm sure it must be a soothing balm for the woman who got that call, took that flight, endured (endureS) that loss.

Ela said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this, Jenny. I'm keeping your friend and her family in my prayers. You too because I know it's so hard to watch the people you love hurting.

2 years ago my dad got on a plane to say goodbye to his mother who we just found out had Stage 4 colon cancer, when the plane landed it was too late. I know he always wishes he got there sooner. I'm so happy for your friend, that she got to say goodbye and see him one more time.

McVal said...

How beautifully done! I will never look at others in an airport the same way again.

Reins In Seattle said...

Thank you Jen for your beautiful tribute. You have touched me so profoundly I can not even begin to express it in words.
Thank you all for your kind words and condolences. My brother, Jen's Uncle Robin is smiling down from heaven so proud of his niece and thanking each one of you too.

AmyLK said...

so sorry for your loss. Its never easy to say good bye to a loved one but I think your words are a lovely tribute to your love for him.

Michael Rivers said...

Wonderful post. Loss is never easy.

Simply Suthern said...

What greater gift can you give than to let someone know they are loved. My thoughts and prayers for you and your family.

The warrior in me said...

That was heart-wrenching but the end made me smile.

I've never thought about all these people looking at us in our daily life, laughing- cute.

I hope this reaches someone in need of reading it- i know it'll heal them.

Kristina P. said...

Very sweet and touching, Jenny.

Mommy Lisa said...

Brothers are important...

your writing is a tribute to those brother/sister relationships.

Peace

mbkatc230 said...

This is so beautifully written, JennyMac. You truly know how to touch our hearts. The description of the airport just tore me up. But I love the last image of beloved family members looking down and smiling, beautiful! Kathy

Lisa and Laura said...

This made me cry, JennyMac. Beautifully written. You, my friend, are a writer.

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

Ok, now I'm crying. So beautiful and meaningful.

Just swinging by from SITS

Lots of love,
Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner
www.mawhats4dinner.com

Dumblond said...

A beautiful post.
I've lost more than a few family and friends over the years but not once did I get a chance to say goodbye and "I love you" one last time before they were gone. There are still holes in my heart from that feeling that I missed something important...At least your friend got to say those things one last time.
I guess it just proves once again how important it is to be with your loved ones as much as you can and to say those important things while they are still here.

Heavenly Housewife said...

Very sad. Its hard for me to show certain emotions, so i applaud you for doing it so beautifully here.
*kisses* HH

Eva Gallant said...

You are such a powerful writer; you grab the reader by the gut and squeeze. One can never walk away untouched. Beautiful. And so sorry about for the loss of someone who was obviously dearly loved.

Kat @ www.TodaysCliche.com said...

Unbelievable, JennyMac. I've been following you for a while, and I have so much to learn. This loss is just awful. So unexpected. My mom is slowing losing her battle here on earth, and your writing surely struck a chord in me. Best to you and yours...
- Kat

Poindexter said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this touching remembrance.

M-Cat said...

Beautiful writing, and to the person whom you have written it, is surely comforted.

Well done, JennyMac, well done indeed!

Herding Cats said...

I'm so sorry :(

foxy said...

Wow, that was so moving, JM. Just beautiful, really...

obladi oblada said...

Beautiful....it made me ache just reading it.

Erin said...

Moving and powerful and amazing, as usual, JM.

This is a heartbreaking story and one that many of us can relate to, at least on some level.

For me, it was my grandmother, only my flight didn't make it there in time to say goodbye in person.

Thank you for sharing this and doing it so well. You always evoke such emotion. Your writing is just incredible. I know I always gush and you probably think I'm creepy/stalky. But it's the truth.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Whomever in your life is suffering, I wish them peace and happiness. So sad. :(

nightowl said...

Beautifully written and heartfelt.
I can't imagine having to make a plane flight with all those emotions. So sorry you lost someone who was so special to you.

Sabrina said...

Found you through SITS and I've been reading ever since.

Beautiful post, wonderfully written, and it shows what a great and caring friend you are.

I'll never forget being in an airport one day waiting to board my flight. An older lady, who was alone, in the terminal beside me received a call and immediately became hysterical. My mother-in-law immediately went to her side. She didn't know her but she was at least able to be there for her. Turns out her husband had died unexpectedly.

Ever since then I think about where people are going when they are at the airport. It can be a sad world sometimes.

Conquer The Monkey said...

reading the words will put a pit in anyone's stomach. my condolences.

Dezzy Lou Where Are You said...

never really considered all the reasons for boarding a plan- especially the heartbreaking ones. so sorry for your loss.

Taylor-Made Wife said...

I love you writing. It is always such a treat reading your posts. My sympathies to whomever this was written for. I'm sure reading this made their healing journey a little easier.

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

So moving. You have a way with words.

Something Happened Somewhere Turning said...

This is written with such clarity, and yet there is an air of mystery as to when it happens.
If it was recent then I offer you my deepest condolences. And if it's been a while then you have my condolences and a sincere prayer for all your heartache.
In any regard I am giving you a hug and I hope that you are all right.

Anonymous said...

Sending e-hugs.

Jaime said...

Beautifully painful post. I have a younger bother and those words hit home. So sorry for your loss.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

given all the time in the world, we are never ever ready are we?
hugs my friend. there is comfort in memories.
i will be saying a good bye on saturday.
<><

Heather@WHMB said...

I have two brothers, both younger, and they truly mean everything to me. Siblings are so unique, the way you portray the relationships in this post is beautiful. I'm so sorry for the loss and I admire your ability to portray perspective.

Kristin said...

I can't imagine the pain. My sister is my world. I'm so sorry.

Secretia said...

You do miss him, you loved him, this tribute is perfect. I'm sorry for your loss.

Secretia

carma said...

so sorry. Your writing is so heartfelt makes me want to reach out and comfort the girl at the airport...

Brittany said...

So sorry for your loss. You are an amazing writer. Thanks for posting this.

CountessLaurie said...

beautiful and well done...

Mighty M said...

Oh, Jenny. :(

Intense Guy said...

The ring of the phone can be shattering - Having learned of my dad's recent heart attack via the phone - only a short time after talking to him, I have a feel for what you have written - but not to such depth or intensity. Not knowing the person this was written "for/to", I was left sorry to hear about the lost of the sole remaining sibling - one that was such an integral part of someone's younger days and so ... much a part of the foundation that makes a person - what they are.

I wouldn't dream of prying into the "who this person is" that you wrote for/to. I can only say, they are fortunate to have you "there" to comfort them in such a remarkable way.

Christine Macdonald said...

As a fellow writer I know you feel somewhat lifted as you wrote this post. I also know you can still feel dragged down with the Ache at the same time.

Thank you for sharing this personal story. You are loved.

Christiejolu said...

Wow! I am sorry for your friends loss. This was a beautiful post, made me feel sad,my sister is in Phoenix battling cancer, I am scared of getting that call myself!

DeNae said...

Watching my mother grieve over the last five months with dignity, humor, and optimism has been, without exception, the most profound lesson of my life. She learned it from her mother. I hope some day to be worthy of such a strong heritage and example.

Beautifully written, Jenny.

J.J. in L.A. said...

Aww, this is making me cry! It's beautiful!!!

We had a death in the family this week too, and I felt a strong urge to blog it last night.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

What a beautiful and touching tribute.

Baloney said...

So sorry to hear about this loss. Losing family is like losing a piece of you.

A Year on the Grill said...

So sad, but so incredibly well written.

It hurt to be reminded of the times I sat with that last hand hold... But made me remember my friends and family

Thanks for the post

PJ said...

Hey Girl! Well, I tried your e-mail again, and it did me the same way. I typed the e-mail clicked send and it brought up a window which said, "What name do you want to appear in the From section? I typed my name. Another window came up and said what are your Incoming and Outgoing servers, POP3, or IMAP? I don't know how to get the answers to that without calling my Internet service.

Sorry for the trouble. I wonder if anyone else is having problems with this.

God Bless,

PJ

PJ said...

Hi! It's PJ again. Sorry, I got so wrapped up the e-mail thing I forgot the main reason for my new comment. Your post almost made me cry. I will desperately pray for your brother and family. As much as your brother needs prayer, your family needs it as bad or worse. You need strength. Things like this not only drain your emotions, but also your faith. I will definitely pray without ceasing for you.

God Bless,

PJ

undomestic chica said...

Normally you make me laugh, today you almost made me cry. I am so sorry.

Ms. Salti said...

Absolutely beautiful... now I'm curious to know who suffered the loss so I can go give her a great big hug!

citymouse said...

Your post was such a wonderful tribute to your mom and the love your family is obviously founded on. Losing the people you love is probably the hardest thing we do in life. Time does heal the immediate hurt but it never fills the hole their absence creates. Thanks for posting this. I've been through two big blows in this department this past year and it was very humbling reading many of your comments and seeing how many other people share the same kind of loss. The temptation is to think no one else understands, but that's not true. Thanks for putting words to this kind of grief and sharing some comfort.

Inge' said...

What a lovely eulogy for someone you obviously care very deeply for.

Even though my sister and i are not on good terms with one another, I cannot imagine my life without her.

Your friend is very blessed to have someone like you to share their pain with.

Cranky Mommy said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss. Your mother is lucky to have someone who can share the love for her so eloquently as well as the love she has for her brothers. My husband lost his mother last night so today has been hard here, too.

Vodka Logic said...

Beautifully written as usual JennyMac. Sorry to hear, you sound like you have a close family.

I am sure the pain never goes away.

xx

Ed said...

Sorry for your friends loss.

Damn you for making me tear up.

Just Breathe said...

I am so sorry. This post is so beautiful and so well written.
((HUGS))

Myya said...

This was so powerful. You have such a way with words. I hope that your friend can smile through her tears at the wonderful things you have written. I am so sorry for her loss.

Postman said...

I thought I had lost my faith in eulogies. I thought they were all trite, mushy, sappy, superficial. This makes me see that I was wrong.

My condolences to your family.

Jenny said...

oh wow. now i'm crying. /smacks xD

this was great.

Summer said...

Such beautiful words...my heart is with you dear girl.

Ashley Stone said...

beautifully written.

Kaela said...

Teared up reading this. Beautiful tribute.

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. This post was beautifully written and is a loving tribute to your relationship. Many healing thoughts and prayers to you.

Lola said...

So sorry for your loss. Reading this twisted my gut and brought tears to my eyes.

HalfAsstic.com said...

That is so sweet and well written. I know you provided some very valuable comfort to someone.

Kato said...

Whomever this was for JennyMac, I am thinking of them and sending warm thoughts their way.

Beautifully written. Your love for this person shines through and that in itself is a lifesaver to the one who needs it.

xoxox

MommaKiss said...

This hits home. Hard. My "terminal" was a 3 hour car ride to get to my family after "the phone call." You're a good strong friend, God bless you for it.

Chief said...

so beautiful...

thoughts that make me put things into perspective.

bless you and your family

Vivienne said...

I'm afraid of the day one when I will get one of those phone calls.

Thank you for the reminder to enjoy the moments that we have.

Marcy said...

I'm a little behind on my blog reading, but had to comment. This was absolutely beautiful JMac. Truly. Send your mom a big hug from me next time you talk to her.