For the first 5 years of my life I spent my days playing Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles with my best friend and brother. He would be gone for short periods of time in and out of the hospital but we always made up for lost time once he got back. Sometimes I was allowed to go with him, other times I would have to wait patiently for his arrival back home. My brother Tommy battled Leukemia for over 4 years, from age 3 ½ to 8. His strength and courage throughout all his treatments was an inspiration to everyone who knew him. Unfortunately, the one thing that we all feared the most happened on November 7th, 1995, the cancer won, and Tommy left us; this time forever.
Although my brother’s death completely crushed me, I believe in seeing the glass half full. In life Tommy suffered and was always sick, in death he found health again. For a few years after Tommy’s death my family was a complete mess. The idea that we would never all be together again was almost impossible to grasp. Although it seemed like we would never be able to overcome this huge obstacle that life had thrown our way, we took each day as it came, and supported each other through the process. Now, I feel like my family is closer than ever. Instead of regretting anything we did wrong, we cherish every moment we got to spend with Tommy, and appreciate even more, all the time we still have with each other.
I choose not to be angry, regretful, or sad anymore. Instead, I am happy for all the time I got to spend with my brother and how he has helped to shape me into the person I am today. I volunteer at a hospice in memory of him, I am a huge fundraiser for cancer research, and my family has started a foundation all in memory of Tommy. My hard work trying to overcome my brother’s death has all been worth it. I have been blessed with the chance to help other children who are going through the same thing. I spend time with boys and girls who have experienced significant loss; talk with them and council them with the hope that one day they can see things the way I do. By doing these helpful, constructive things, it becomes easier to see the positives a death like this can bring with it.
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