This I Believe

Stephnie - royal palm beach, Florida
Entered on October 25, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: death, family, love

“The Loss of a Brother”

I had my day all planned out. I would leave school at the end of the day

with my friend Norma. She had agreed to teach me how to bake a cake after much

begging and pleading. The end of the school day could not have come any sooner. I was

filled with excitement as it was now 2:45 pm and we were on our way.

Upon reaching home, I noticed my mother’s car in the driveway. The

heat coming from the hood of the car was an indication that she had not been there long.

I wondered why she was home this early. This was unusual, as she was not expected

home until 6:00 pm. Was she sick? I entered the house curiously walking around each

corner. I could not have imagined what the real reason for her presence was and how

much it would change my life.

After briefly looking around, I went into my parent’s room. I found my

mother and sister both crying on the bed; and from the looks of it, it seems like they had

been crying for a while. I started crying, almost instinctively, as if somehow deep inside

I knew something was grievously wrong. My sister muttered Dwight’s name. He was

my oldest brother. While I was asking her what was wrong with him, I was

simultaneously wishing that she would not say. She told me that he was killed in an

accident and immediately I thought of the last time I had seen him that morning.

As family and friends arrived, I sat out on the front patio, wanting to be left alone. I sat there looking in the direction from which Dwight would always come

home, anticipating his return. I wanted to tell everyone that he was ok and to stop the

pain we were all feeling.

In the days leading up to the funeral, I was still in denial. Even though

he had not returned home, I convinced myself that he was away on a trip soon to return. I

thought of all the possible scenarios why he was not home yet. I refused to accept the

reality of his death. This was until I came face to face with his cold still body on the day

of the funeral. Dwight was gone.

We went from a home filled with laughter to uncontrollable crying.

There were days that we sat silently without conversation, as if we had cried all we

could. We were inconsolable. Even with the house filled with well wishers, we thought

that our pain was unique and that no one knew what we were going through. How could

they? They did not know him like we did. I could hear strangers passing by laughing

and chatting unaware of our sorrow. I remember thinking, how is it possible that we

were going through this much pain yet their lives are continuing as though we did not

exist. My grief was so profound that I thought joy would have been non-existent even for the

strangers walking by.

Our family had been ripped apart. We thought of ourselves as the

‘even’ bunch; a well balanced family, two boys and two girls. We were each other’s

best friends. Now one of us was gone. Although I could not have imagined the loss

being any worse, I somehow felt especially bad for my other brother. He not only lost a

brother, but a best friend, a constant companion and a roommate. He must have felt such

emptiness every minute of his day.

. My mother’s pain was so deep that she expressed she no longer had a

will to live; whilst, my dad sat quietly with eyes that were drained of all emotions. He

looked defeated as if he had given up. Their first child had died causing them

unimaginable and unbearable pain. They wanted this pain to stop. Pictures and memories

of Dwight were removed, in fear that it would trigger a traumatic episode for my mother.

In our grief, my siblings and I became shadows to our parents. They were not allowed

to be alone. We spent our time rotating between parents trying to convince them not to

give up on life or us. However, there was no time to feel rejected. I am grateful that we

were able to gain strength from each other.

Dwight would have been 36 years old this past August 5th . It has

been 15 years since the accident happened and with time we are better able to deal with

our loss. Pictures and other memories of Dwight have slowly returned to our homes.

As we have grown older and have gone through different life experiences we wonder

what he would have been like today. Would he have been married with kids? We will

never know; however, the memory that we have of him and the contribution that he has

made to our lives will forever be with us. Through this tragedy, my family bond has

strengthened. I have found a greater appreciation for life and the love that I share

with loved ones. I also learned that comfort and strength can be found in the most

unexpected places.