July 21st, 2010
Three days isn't nearly enough time to say goodbye. I'm still cycling through shock, disbelief, sadness, anger, guilt, love, and grief. Just when I think I've made sense out of it and realize I'm not dreaming this nightmare, the throng of emotions cycle through again.
Jeremiah and I are both true Stearnes which means we don't really talk about our feelings or emotions too much, so I'd like to use this time to say the things to Jeremiah that I wish I could have said in person.
My dear Me-Mi,
After hearing the heart-wrenching news, I fell into a cycle of guilt. Guilt for my own selfish attempts at self preservation. Guilt for past things said between us. And guilt for present things never said between us.
My selfish attempts at self preservation came during your first few years of living with epilepsy. In hindsight it's understandable that you wanted to live as normal life as you could. This meant going against a lot of the doctors advice that would make the seizures less frequent. For me, it meant protecting myself by realizing that you most likely would die as a result of wanting to live life on your terms. I feel the guilt of trying to protect myself instead of accepting you. As it turns out, you turned your life completely around and for the past several years you were following the marching orders to keep the epilepsy under control. And it was working. And my guard came down. My initial attempt at self preservation was completely blown, and the now the guilt rushes in.
Regarding my guilt for the past things said between us - I was too hard on you for many years. "Take your medicine" "what's going on with your health insurance", "quit smoking", , "stop drinking so much caffeine", "stop eating so much fried food ", "eat your veggies", "stand up straight" , "stop being so juvenile", "call me more often". No wonder you didn't call me as often as I asked!! I never knew how much I nagged you like a mom, instead of helping you like a big sister - yet you never complained.
My guilt for present things never said lies in my slow realization over the last year that you weren't the one with the problem. You are a grown man who has been taking care of himself, purchased a new car, running a business and cultivating relationships. I was projecting on you what I had from our childhood about being juvenile. Our last 8 - 10 conversations reflected a change coming from me about how I perceive you, but I never got to tell you what I started to focus on or exactly what I love about you.
I love you for always being there for our family. You never rejected any important event, holiday or celebration. You were very dependable to show your love and support. You were always the first to call me on my birthday, and this year was no different. I feel guilty for being out of the country for the last 6 weeks on my birthday and not being able to call you back. I love your sense of style. You always presented yourself at your best. I love your overall unselfishness and generosity with your time. I love your ability to be so forgiving and not hold a grudge. He was dealt a sub par hand but I never heard him complain about it. If anything, he bluffed and told us he was "doing just fine & dandy, how 'bout urself" I can imagine you saying to me now "It's ok, sister blister ___". You always meant well and never meant or wished anyone harm. The control freak in me admires your masterfulness of being so easygoing. It takes a special kind of person to handle the stress of customers yelling at you about how expensive it is to fix their car. If you hadn't taken over the shop, I could see you as a baseball umpire or any kind of sporting referee. At least they have the fun option to eject the players from the field! Finally, I love you for being the sweetest brother to us. It actually hurts to hear from your friends how much you talked about me, loved me and spoke highly of me. And it's absolutely wrenching to hear that the only thing on your dresser is a framed? photo of your brother and sisters from the last time we got together - Thomas, Alex, you and me at Thomas' baby shower.
I try to placate myself with some of the positives from your passing, but honestly, this bleeping sucks. Here's my feeble attempt to look on the bright-side: I am happy to know you won't have to go through this pain of losing someone so close to you (see above about how much this bleeping sucks). Also, though I can't confirm it, I do believe the privilege of passing in your sleep is the number one choice when you have to go, (and we all have to go and will be with you again someday). I'm happy you got a lot out of life - worldwide trips to Jamaica, Grand Caymen Islands, Mexico, Amsterdam, ski trips to Colorado, trips to Los Angeles to see me, snorkling with sting rays, experiencing jamaican greens, pool tournaments, poker tournaments, lots of Braves games, football games, road trips, and the thousands of other life experiences that we have memories and photos of Ultimately, I'm so happy you didn't pass alone. In your life you were in a adoring relationship, treasured by your friends and so loved by your family. You definitely didn't pass alone - you took with you a piece of everyone of us here today and beyond.
I'll wrap with up with a small representation of what I'll miss about you:
I'll miss -
-your beautiful blue eyes
-your funky folded ears
-future photos of you getting caught licking your lips
-your chapstick addiction
-conking out on the sofa like dad
-scaring me with the freaky doll at Uncle Donnie & Aunt Barbara's
-your cleaverness with words - most recently when renaming the hogbarn after nanny (aka Ruby Faye Bates) moved in to either - "ruby faye's get away" or "bates motel" were the gems
-your love and patience for nanny
-the way you looked in blue...actually the way you knew how you looked in blue. If you were still here, I'd ask you for another clever term for "chic magnet".
-hearing you recount the story of how you think I tried to push you off a cliff in childhood.
-watching you laugh as you immediately recognized the framed 8x10 photograph of that cliff a few years ago for Christmas
-during our adult years, I'll miss your ability to always be the first to sniff out the Christmas Cash hidden in the stocking.
-hearing you call me your favorite nicknames for me - "sister blister" "lino skabino" and "b.reakfast l.unch s.upper" (a play on my initials, b.l.s.)
-finally, I'll miss the way I used to sing the opening lines of"Jeremiah was a bullfrog" to you and you'd chime in with the guitar riff "nuh - nuh -nuh"
I love you so much, me-mi.
Farewell, for now.
Your big sis, Brandi.