Some day we'll all have perfect wings

"you can use pain to self-destruct or reconstruct."
-Ellen Goodman, journalist [paraphrased]
Things stood still for several weeks, after my younger brother died unexpectedly, on July 21, of unexplained heart failure, he was thirty-eight years old. His home was a short walk from ours, my daughters adored him, and my husband and he were friends. Over the past month we've taken time to grieve, to think about my brother's life, to remember the person that he was, and to say good-bye. Some moments, and some days are better than others as life slowly returns to some kind of 'normal'. Part of me is 'dealing with it' because I have to go around and get things done. Another part is still struggling and to some extent, remains in denial about what happened. I think a part of our brain keeps the person alive in our mind, stubbornly refusing to let go. Eventually I suppose it sinks in.

At the same time, something seems to have shifted for me in my thinking about how I want to go forward with my life. It's something subtle, because I can't really put my finger on what it is, and I often feel I'm in a state of suspended animation waiting for some additional insight to get me moving in a forward direction again. A close friend whose brother is dying of lung cancer, wrote to me and said, "when you lose a part of yourself, you can simply never be whole again. That is what we have to live with." Sometimes, life seems so meaningless, other times so beautiful, a gift. Basically, cognitive dissonance reigns.

For now, I have decided to slow the pace of my activities way down and leave lots of open, still space in my life, I cannot really do otherwise. I have decided to stop blogging except that I will continue to post photos of work in progress, and finished pieces. I'll also post quotes that are meaningful to me, related to creativity and personal growth. This is the most useful way that I know of to keep track of what I am doing, and document my creative journey.

The title of this blog post is a line from a song called 'Don't laugh at me' written by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin. Country singer Mark Wills recorded it, as did folk singers Peter Paul and Mary. Peter Yarrow has made it the foundation song for the Don't Laugh at Me Program whose mission it is to stop bullying in schools. The song reminds me of my brother, who was a childhood survivor of cancer and was often teased in school because he was very sick for many years and developed a disability due to the aggressive nature of his cancer treatment. You can listen to the song here. Thank you to Christine Kane for introducing it to me.


paulahewitt said...

I am so sorry to hear about your brother. my thought are with you.paula

arlee said...

Juanita, so sorry to hear of your loss. Sending hug thoughts your way.

fiona d said...

Juanita, I'm very sorry and thinking of you

catsmum said...

I lost my only brother [ only sibling actually ] to an unexpected brain aneurism at 34, so I have been where you are and it sucks. You have my deepest sympathy and a BIG BIG cyber hug. Take the time you need. I didn't because ... well ... life ... sick mum ... disabled child ... STUFF! It crippled me artistically for about a year ... and I think I've only really come to terms with the waste of his potential in later years.

shiborigirl said...

"you can use pain to self-destruct or reconstruct."
-Ellen Goodman, journalist [paraphrased]

so very very true. reconstruction is the better choice. very hard when you lose someone so close to you. so sorry you have lost your brother and that part of yourself. when my husband died following a BMT for leukemia at age 37 i felt the same way. i was 27 and knew which one to choose. the good thing is that they remain a part of us in everything we do and even now, i have conversations with him in my head and can conjure him up whenever necessary.
time does dull the ache and strengthen the bond.