Friday, October 28, 2016

Death Comes to the Archbishop--and Everybody Else

My brother died this week.

We weren't terribly close, as children or adults. We saw one another infrequently and phoned irregularly, although when we were together we had a lot in common. I didn't just love him; I also liked him.

While it's sad in and of itself, my sorrow is compounded by the realization that the people I care about who are near my age do not still have plenty of time left. Our earnest efforts to eat healthy, take our medications as ordered, get some exercise, keep our minds active, the endless denial of our slothful candy-crunching, steak-chewing urges doesn't stave off death for long.

I suppose in a way my brother was luckier than most. He was born to a white couple who valued education. They were able to live where it was safe, where the schools were good, where everyone seemed to have everything they needed and much of what they wanted.

Because he was both driven and smart as well as lucky, my brother was able to get a good education, marry a fine woman much like himself, have a series of good jobs that paid well, buy a nice home in Silicon Valley before it got so crazy-expensive, have a child, pay for her education, see her enter the Peace Corps, meet a good man, marry, and have children of her own.

This is so very much more than many people get, yet it seems unfair. He was 68. He took care of himself. And he's gone.

All of us accept on some level that we'll lose our parents. They're old. Then one day, you lose a brother. You realize that it could have been your long-time friend. Your sister. Your spouse. Yourself.

And with the new understanding of how great loss can be, you realize how deeply each of those losses will slice. Your tears aren't just for the brother who's gone, the sister-in-law who is alone now, the daughter who's lost her dad, the grandchildren who won't even remember Grandpa, but for your own connections who will one day feel this way when you yourself are gone. This is going to isolate my husband, devastate my daughters...

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