Thanking God helps me. It helped me three years ago when I sloppily put pen to paper and recorded the things below. It helped abate the rising panic I felt when reality would break through the numbing shock that my brother Dave had died. Giving thanks helped me breathe. It helped me find air when there was nothing but stifling grief and confused disbelief.
Thanking God helps me. I wrote these a couple days after Dave died, and they soothe my aching heart again today on the anniversary of his sudden, too-soon death. I set out to write 25, but it turned into more. That’s often the way it is with giving thanks. I'm thankful for that, too.
27 Thanks Amid a Brutal Grief
- That I got to spend six months living with my brother Dave, seeing him every day, at home, with him and his family
- That he saw A’s 21st birthday, saw him learn to fly, and set off on a career path
- That he saw H’s 16th birthday, saw her learn to drive, and taught her
- That I got to see her initiate a long, sweet hug with him for no apparent reason
- That I gave Dave and M a whole day together just the two of them through giving them gift cards to the Musical Instrument Museum for Christmas. They turned it into a whole day starting with breakfast
- That Mom and Dad are not here to know this grief
- That the Fisherman is here to share my grief, for his tears and pain with me and for me
- For C’s great support system, her wonderful friends
- For food showing up in abundance
- For 16 teenagers sitting with H in the living room and six young men sitting around the patio table with A
- For the gift of being together at the hospital, sharing our fear, the weight, the hope, the next plummet, and then, the final word
- For freely expressed pain, free-flowing tears together
- For a desperate clinging hug and crying in each other’s arms – P and me – the only ones in this who know the loss of our brother
- The raw connection, the deepest we have shared, as we held each other and twice my knees nearly buckled from the overpowering pain
- For seeing how dearly loved and highly respected Dave is in his circles of medicine and friends
- For seeing C’s love for him, seeing her wearing his jacket, his emergency medicine sweatshirt.
- For A coming out to the kitchen the night after, wearing an old sleep shirt of Dave’s. I heard about it the next morning. The story is that it was an old, ugly, ratty t-shirt Dave slept in for years until C finally said, “OK, I’m pitching this. Find a new old t-shirt to sleep in.” She tossed it, and that was that. Then, A came out to the kitchen wearing it the night after Dave died. He had a grin on his face,and C busted out laughing. Somehow he had snatched the shirt from the trash (possibly years ago?) and hidden it in his closet. C said she so needed the laugh it gave her, and how touching it was, too
- For amazing Facebook messages on Dave’s page. Condolences, grief, shock, thank-yous to him, and messages declaring his kindness and great contributions as a doctor, and how many people he touched
- Our last moment together, the night of his family birthday party – him lying on his bed not feeling well, getting rid of “the spins” before going to the E.R. Me leaning down and hugging him, hugging his head and telling him I love him. Having to interrupt a laughing moment he was having with JD as I said good-bye to him. His smile, his laugh, then his full attention, the good-bye, the hug. That The Fisherman wanted to leave before Dave went to check himself into the E.R. – to help quiet the house during the urgent need. Us leaving then provided me that hug, Dave’s laughter ringing in my ears, and the smile on his face as he turned to me and we hugged. His smile – my last moment with him
- At the hospital, L. there for H. PV there for A.
- Seeing H sitting on her BFF’s lap, staring off. L staring, too, her arms around H
- AW rushing to PV who hit the wall in angry grief, then crumpled into the corner of the waiting room outside ICU. Their vocal crying together
- Sharing the pain, the sobbing hugs with A. who had just lost his best friend, his dad.
- For getting to write Dave’s obituary, seeing his CV (resume), his accomplishments, and all the EMS and fire stations he served as Medical Director
- For J’s words. After I said something like “He was a lot bigger than his 5’6” stature,” she said, “Yes. He was 6’5” in my book.” I said, “He left a large footprint,” as I was beginning to see just how far his reach was
- Knowing that Dave is a believer in Jesus and that he is in heaven now. Not because he was a good person who believed in God, but because he believed in what Jesus did for him on the cross
- For HOPE – the uplifting hope that is a result of knowing this about my beloved brother Dave. (And David means “beloved.”)