Sunday, May 4, 2014
On Good Friday I was out for a run and my phone went off. It was my sister. "Mom says Kevin (our brother) is in the emergency room. Are you back in town? Someone has to pick her up. So she can run home and take care of our aunt." Important to know, everyone in my family suffers form major medical and health problems, except for me. I was back in town. I did pick her up, I helped with my aunt. I dropped her back at the hospital and I was heading home when my phone rang again. This time it was Mom. "It is stage 4 cancer: colon, lung, and liver. I have to go he is headed to emergency surgery." Late into that evening my small family sat in the surgery waiting room to have a macabre discussion with the Dr. "Understand this is grave. His liver is completely covered in cancer. He can't live without a liver. I don't mean to be harsh, this isn't curable." On Monday, April 28th at 6:03 AM my 46 year old brother, my Irish twin, died.
In my 45 years, my brother and I probably never agreed on anything. We may have been Irish twins, but we were polar opposites. He never worked, I recently recovered from pneumonia that most of my close friends attribute to my being a total workaholic. He was scared of everything and paralyzed by any choice. I try to live fearlessly, I don't always succeed but I give it the old college try. I make all my own choices and stand beside them good or bad and learn from them. He never made a good choice about his health. He never exercised, never ate fruit or vegetables, only ate processed meals and fast food. Choices, we live and die by them.
I make lots of choices everyday; we all do, even when we are too scared to make one. My mother asks fruitlessly "why didn't he tell anyone he felt sick, before it was too late." It was a choice. I would be the last one to know the thought process behind it. I have made a lot of tough choices in my life, especially about my family, not everyone's family is a healthy for them. Things like the last few weeks demonstrates that there is a cost to every choice; Kevin's was severe. Mine was more subtle. The obvious separation between me and my family, most of whom have made similar choices to my brother's. When I returned from the service on Thursday, feeling estranged and awkward. My husband helped me see my choices in a different light. "Just look at your whole life: your marriage, career, health, and friends as it is now. Knowing what you know would you make a different choice?" The answer, I think he confidently knew, was no. I usually choose optimism. I choose health. I get up and lace up and do strength training, and eat right. I choose a happy life, not free of stress, but not welcoming additional chaos. I prioritize my husband and career. I choose peace and harmony, I choose honesty and reality.
I can mourn my brother and the choices that brought us all here. I can take away that things like this are a reminder to hold those you love closer, to push the envelope, to try the difficult, new thing, and to continue to make the choices I have.
Hoping all of you have healthy happy loved ones to share your life. I am very grateful for my husband, a true life partner and the good friends that reached out and provided so much support for me the last couple of weeks.