Death, Grief and the Damned

My brother is dying because of extreme alcohol abuse. His liver and kidneys are dead. I’m told it’s a matter of days at best.

How do you deal with it when someone used to be close to you who was abusive and horrible to you your whole life is dying?

I’m trying to think about the good times only and not the bad.

This is some of the bad: My brother made it clear that he didn’t want me in his life. He told me I wasn’t good enough to get to know my niece and nephew. He hung up on me and laughed when I called him when I was young and begged for him to come and help because I was so so scared for me and my little brother.
There’s this enormous hole. Like a rotten tooth that’s caused you pain for years and is suddenly being extracted.
He was a miserable bastard even when he was a little kid he’d do stuff like pinch me really hard to make me scream and get me into trouble. He staple gunned my hand to the wall when I was seven. He ‘bench pressed’ me with his hands in inappropriate places.
Now his liver and kidneys are failing and I’m told he has days to live. I haven’t talked to him for years and made every effort to reconcile with him while he and his wife thought my offers of friendship were ‘working an angle’. The last time I talked to him on the phone he yelled at me for missing our mother’s funeral and I didn’t know she was even dead for years after her death because I had severed ties with the whole family due to abuse. I responded by making a birthday party for him and my dad who had birthdays only a few days apart. My brother didn’t speak to me ever again after that although he said he had a wonderful time. It was also the only time I ever met my niece and nephew because I’m just not good enough.
As part of the eulogy he gave at his own mother’s funeral he said, ‘Maybe she’ll finally stop being miserable now that she’s dead.’ I hope the same for him.
He was a hypocrite. A preacher who drank himself to death and never forgave or was giving his entire life.
My mom used to make us say three nice things about each other when we fought. That’s what I’m going to try to do.
1. He taught me how to use a slingshot.
2. He used to give me books he was done with without letting our parents know about it. That was how I got my first fantasy book and fell in love with genre.
3. He was sensitive. So sensitive I didn’t know how my brand of honesty hurt him to the core and made him hate me. I didn’t know my acumen was damaging to him, I thought I was helping. I think that he was far more sensitive that is ‘acceptable’ for a guy to be and that that’s part of why he was such an asshole.

There mom, that’s the best I can do for Len but I tried real hard.

len and frank

Hurt people lash out. I never meant to hurt him but it was hard for me to hear my girlfriends at slumber parties talk about the pain he had caused them. He took one of my best friend’s virginity and then told her she would burn in hell and made her cry. It’s hard to see the sensitivity in someone who could treat my friends like that. It was hard to have my friends always relating the latest traumas and humiliations visited on them. It hurt me and when I tried to talk to him it, it drove him into a rage with me that will burn well after he is dead.
I choose to remember him from an earlier time. He wasn’t kind then, but he was at his kindest, believe it or not. The brother I followed in the fields and forests even though I couldn’t keep up with him. I loved him so much but he was always eager to get rid of me. One day my dad warned him after he ran off with friends and left me to sadly trudge back to the house on my own. He said, “That little girl worships the ground you walk on and one day you’re going to break her heart one too many times and you’re going to regret it until the day you die.”
Too bad neither of them listened to those words.

Oh, I thought of a fourth nice thing to say about him, we had a lot of fun when we lived in the house in Arrowwood. It had secret passages in the walls and we would crawl around in them and play all sorts of games. He was rarely ever cruel to me then. We’d eavesdrop on everything that happened in the house and play games like ‘the floor is hot lava’ when we weren’t playing in the walls. He let me play in his tree fort too and we played sky pirates and all sorts of games.
We had a playground that was practically in our yard and we’d try to wrap the swings around the bar by swinging as high as we could. We smashed rocks together, using bigger rocks as anvils so that we could discover the patterns inside. Secretly we talked about finding diamonds in the rocks and what we would do with our wealth

Mom was right, there is always something nice to say about someone and you always feel better about them afterward. It’s too bad that it’s all too late and still unreciprocated. All hope is gone that it ever will be. I don’t know the man he grew into and I don’t love him. He made sure that I never got to know that man and so it’s hard to feel anything for him as he dies. That’s a sorrow all of it’s own.

baby len with debbie


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