“Mark My Words”~Attributed to Miles Coverdale (1535).
My brother died, suddenly and unexpectedly. So strange to write those words. (Another word I have used a great deal the past three weeks is ‘surreal.’ This is how the entire experience has been for me.)
There is a different tenor to the loss, especially after parents, aunts and uncles, and that ‘line’ or hierarchy have already passed. Suddenly there is the realization that there are no more “them” left as a buffer, and now there is only “us.” When the “us’s” start going ….. well, boy howdy …. puts a different spin on viewing mortality. There is also a recognition of (gulp) “we” are the buffer for the sons and daughters, nieces and nephews. Everyone has bumped up a notch in that hierarchy.
It is interesting, fascinating, confusing, and sometimes baffling to share memories with remaining siblings. Perspectives are different. (Heaven’s, birth-orders are different so of course perspectives are different!) The person I ‘knew’ is not necessarily the person they knew. Different interests, different focuses [or ‘foci’ more appropriately] of conversation, shared dreams, points of likes/dislikes, etc., etc., etc. Different childhood relationships even. (Not to mention different adult relationships.)
The one sensation that sticks with me the most is that Brother left as quickly as he arrived. One day, when he was about 18-months old, he was carried into the household by military Dad. Into a household of five awaiting females. (Whoa Nellie! Poor little bugger didn’t stand a chance!! Hahahaha!!) He was an AmerAsian adoptee. Tiny little guy with a military buzz cut (of course!) and big wide eyes, who spoke not a word of English. He looked a bit shell-shocked, and more than a bit scared. Make that terrified. (Didn’t help a bit when the 5 females flocked around him like mother hens with a single chick ~ cluck, cluck, clucking in a language he didn’t understand.) Dad interpreted.
He arrived suddenly; he left as suddenly.
It’s interesting, the memory pictures that come flashing into Mind. I’m blessed, because most of those memory pictures I am choosing to hold are amusing or down-right funny, or poignant, and some are sweet. His childhood and early adolescence. A smile that would burst forth that would light up his whole face (and his eyes). A smile that would lighten him up even in older adulthood. Nice to see.
For you, for each of us, there are memories too that probably are suckie. Arguments, frustrations, disagreements, judgments of behavior – on both sides of the street. Yup, those memories are there too; yet today I choose to release them like balloons – up, up, and away. To purposefully choose to let go of the painful (to me). To retain the sweet, the melancholy, even the bittersweet. (And, no, not to ignore or ‘pretend’ what was, wasn’t. Or to romanticize. Simply choosing not to carry that into the life I have left.) I know some who experienced nothing but the suckie ….and carry memories of only that. I am eternally grateful I have different experiences and memories.
So – Snapshots: He L.O.V.E.D baseball. Was a great player in kidhood and adolescence. He was an Orioles fan, although he followed all the teams and stats. (We’d bet every year on the World Series; dang if he didn’t usually win!) He was a purple-wearing Ravens fan. He had an infectious laugh. He had a low tolerance for frustration. He has an adult daughter, and an adult son, and had great difficulty saying “I love you.” There were fascinating conversations about NASA and the projects on Mars, and potential colonization that he and I would have. (Yes, we both agreed we’d ‘go’ if the opportunity arose.) We agreed to disagree politically. We talked about old movies, and History Channel, and Discovery, and funny, funny jokes. We had fascinating conversations, until we didn’t. Sound familiar?
I had the honor (and I consider it such) to be the one to dismantle his home, down to the bare walls. Some surprises that were another ‘whoa nellie!‘, and some that were ‘no way!’ He was a published poet. Who knew? Not I. He at one point was learning music and wrote a number of songs. Again, who knew? And again, not I. He was a clothes-hound. He had some fascinating books. And, he was equally fascinated by and identified with lions. (Funny note: He also had all of his yellow-paper shot-records from our 7 years in Korea, and our years as Military Brats. Now THAT was a trip down memory lane for sure! Ouch and double-ouch.)
As each ‘thinks’ they know someone else, I guarantee you, there are aspects of them, their inner life, and sometimes their outer life, of which You. Have. No. Idea. Think about yourself – and I am pretty certain there are aspects of You that others are not privy to. Why is that? Lack of trust? Embarrassment? Fear of being judged? Or …. simple and simply a sense of privacy where one holds dreams and ideas close. (Don’t know for you …. yet probably all-the-above for me.) Huh. What will my loved ones discover about me as they go through the evidentials of the life I have lived?.
As you reflect on the passing of a loved one… As you rummage through those dusty memories in the back closet of your mind … As you attempt to make sense of the why’s and how’s, the when’s and where’s … remember to remember to be kind ~ to yourself. Feel what you feel. Allow what you feel. Heal what you feel. And know, one day, others will be doing this for and about you.
In closing ~
Mark. My words: I love you. I’ll miss you very much.
See you on Mars! 😉
Mark Ken Church
“Beautiful, well thought out, gives lots to think about personally and as relates to friends, family, colleagues and so on. Loss is inevitable esp, as we age. Must remember the good, funny, challenging, loving and more. Well said my friend!” ~ Helen 04.13.21
“That was a fantastic article that you created…I learned things about him I had no clue of….I see where I get my low tolerance of frustration from….I didn’t know he wrote either…..” ~ Victoria 04.13.21
“Absolutely beautiful! Xoxo .” ~ Kathy 04.13.21
“Poignant and pointed. For me, this submission very much mirrors the theme of my thoughts recently. I ‘ve been ridiculously distracted by thoughts of folks in my life becoming the “buffer” group, watching the “buffer” group dwindle, and being annoyed at the very persistent and heavy nudge to take my “proper” place in the advancing cue. It’s the exact perspective, imagery and words I need to begin more effectively “choosing” the way I’m steering this ship. Thanks for sharing this honest and open perspective from your journey.” ~ Darren 04.13.21
“I loved your writing about Mark, Lin. Please accept my condolences and my wishes for comfort and reassurance. Keeping you and family in my healing prayers. Love.” ~ Rita 04.14.21
“This was a beautiful celebration of the love you felt for and from Mark. Thank you and I love you for this. Xo, much love!” ~ Susi C. 04.14.21
“What a beautiful work! Truth! Truth. The spirit of your brother came through your writings. What an interesting man you presented him to be. But not only that, what you wrote reached all the way to the soul and reality of our existence on this plane. All the cycle of life. What you wrote also made me think I better find my stuff and maybe begin to throw some of my writings away! LOL. Thank you for that work; it struck me on many different levels. Thank you my friend! And yes, may your brother rest in Love and peace.” ~ Joseph 04.14.21
“Let me clear the tears enough for me to write: That was beautiful. No need to elaborate. You really had me thinking, again ..one day the baby in the family and then Boom, the oldest. It really does a trip on me every time I think about it. Call me….I’ll go to Mars with you, also. Love.” ~ Marty 04.14.21
“I just read your blog, more like a wonderful heartfelt dedication and remembrance of Mark. Touched me to the core. Truly one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever read. I feel like I knew him without ever having met him. Lin-all I can say is wow. How lucky he was to have been a part of all of your lives. This really makes you think about how many layers we all have and what we choose to share with others. Warm, heartfelt tribute, to say the least. Not your goal, but brilliant…… “ ~Lorraine 04.18.21