I am tweeking an earlier post in tribute to my wifes brother, Richard Peoples, who recently passed…
The rain began to patter on the window that looked out over my brothers backyard garden.
I was holding his frail hand, the one with his “green thumb”.
I smile at this…
He always laughed like hell, when he’d told me that he could kill a plastic plant…no problem.
I’ve seen it happen.
But now his eyes were closed, his breath labored.
….. today was a good day for him, considering everything….
He may have been asleep but, his fingers gripped mine as hard as he could squeeze.
I could barely tell I was holding his hand at all, as weak as he was.
It’s so painful, beyond belief really, to try and imagine strength draining away from one of the strongest people you have ever known.
….like sand in an hourglass, it seems….
I laced my fingers thru his, gripping them a little harder, tracing the veins on the back of his hand with my other fingers.
I can’t believe I’m losing him….he’s been here all my life
My big brother, bestest in the whole world, is dying………Dying! Like a normal people!
I can hear the thunder in the distance, the rain coming and going, the branches of the trees scraping lightly across the panes of glass
In the storm graying light of the small bedroom I turn back into time to think of our lives together, times apart….
Too much time spent apart, life getting in the way and all that
I have done this more than usual lately….regret
…..Way too damn fast.
Doesn’t it seem weird that when you are about to lose someone close to your heart, a piece of your very soul, that we start to reflect on our memories of them more, as if though trying to burn them deeper into our hearts and minds….
It’s as if though we are afraid that we might forget something important….forget them?
I look at his face as he sleeps….if you can call dying sleep.
He’s so handsome……..even now.
The sun is leaving his eyes.
The rain reminds me that I must not cry……
Cloud tears trickle down, the beads of sky diamonds ornament his window…..
I won’t weep…..
Not now at least, he gets upset when I cry.
I sit there holding my brothers big old hand, staring out the jeweled window as the storm drums the shutters.
The lightning is bright, the thunder is closer….the rain, more insistent…..
I can smell the trees….
In my heart of hearts, I begin the stroll down our memory lane; it isn’t raining here.
There is only laughter, joy……family.
There is only skinned knees, gum in my hair; friends and family we grew up with….
I am brought back from my breaking heart to the bedside when I feel him stir under the blankets….
The thunder moves him.
His eyes are open and I follow his hooded gaze.
He is looking out the window, watching the storm.
Shadows of the window panes, rain drops and lightning dance across his face…..
Richard is quiet….Still.
Oh, so still…..
I notice a small tear is running down my big brothers pale cheek and across his dry lips…
I reach up and wipe his tear away with my finger.
All of a sudden, I feel guilty that I am alive.
Richard grabs my hand and presses it to his lips and then….he drops my hand with a tired sigh.
Richard turns his face toward me….
I raise my finger to my lips and kiss what’s left of his tear….
He gives me that shit eating grin of his and turns back to the storm outside his window.
“Will you do me a favor?” he asks in his Cajun drawl; a weak voice now; the stormy sky reflecting in his dimming, big brother eyes.
“I don’t know” I say “I’m kinda busy” I grin.
Richard squeezes my hand again before turning to look at me, his gaze imploring.
“I’m serious” He says.
My face softens, I will not cry….
“You bet” I whisper, both my hands pressing his to show my promise.
I can’t squeeze hard.
Richard lives very close to pain that I can’t imagine.
He turns his face back toward the window as the rain dances across the roof, the thunder making the panes tremble….
I cannot cry in front of him….
I will not….
My big brother is slipping away like a dream, like water thru my fingers….
“I hope it rains forever” I say….
His eyes are closed now…
His fingers relax in mine….
“It doesn’t hurt anymore…weird” he whispers.
I thank God for this small answer to my anguished prayers….and I curse him.
“No…don’t go…” I say
I feel like an asshole for remaining here on this earth, for staying alive.
I never thought that would be the last thing he would hear from my lips.
No God….not Richard….
Not my brother….
Take me instead, I’ll go. I’ll go right now!
Richard dropped my hand.
His heart has finished its toil.
I can’t breathe….I gotta get out of here….I…….can’t…..breathe….Oh my God! Oh my God!!!
My big brother has gone away from me, into the storm….
He lives where lightning is born….
Our joined lives continue as memory….
I guess I can cry now….
But, I think it still upsets him
I will dance in the rain with the memory of my friend, and we will laugh…
I rejoice in the fact that as long as I live, he will be here with me.
He will watch my children grow.
He will watch all the children find best friends, be with our family.
It is time for me to weep for my big burly guy…
I thank God for Heaven and eternal life….
Oh my God, why is it so hard to breathe when I think of him?
I can already hear his voice in my head…
“Cry baby” he’d say….
Richard’s here…..right now.
As long as earth lasts forever, He’s alive in the thunder and rain.
I will think of him….
My big brother is gone, until it rains.