33 years ago on May 1st, at 9:30pm, my family received the worst phone call of our lives! I had answered the phone. It was for my Dad, so I passed the phone to him and ran back to watch TV. Little did I know that with that phone call, life as I knew it had just tragically changed.
The phone call was from the President of the college that my brother was at. Earlier that evening when my brother was playing a game of soccer with friends he collapsed with a massive heart attack. My full of life, humorous, 23 year old brother was dead. The bubble that I had thought was around my family had just been popped.
33 years ago I thought that I may never smile or laugh again, my brother, my hero, was gone. I so remember walking into stores and seeing people laugh, seeing kids at school having fun and laughing and I felt like there was a veil separating us. I couldn’t understand how they could smile and laugh. I wanted to scream, ” Do you not realize that the world just ended??!”
Yes, those were the feelings I had, but as I look back now there is something that stands out very clearly. I have had 33 years of many smiles and much laughter!! My world did not end that day, it just changed. I did survive.
When I went back to school after my brother died we had an assignment for English class. We were supposed to pick a topic to write about out of a short list that the teacher gave us. My eyes ran down the list and the one topic jumped off the page at me. I knew I had to do it. To me there was no choice.
I am going to share the paper that I wrote back then. The topic was “If I Could Have One Wish.” As I read it again there are things I would add or change, but that’s because I am not 13 anymore. I am leaving it as is, for at that time it spoke my heart. At that time it was the beginning of me learning that writing could bring healing.
If I Could Have One Wish
If I could have one wish, it would be to have my brother living again. To be able to see once more his grin and teasing eyes. Once again to hear his laughter ringing through our house. To be able to feel his arms embrace me with a big hug when he would come home and hear him say, ” Hi there kid,” again. If I could have one wish, it would be to hear the phone ringing and hear his voice once more, asking for my Dad by his full name. Seeing if he could fool me as to who it was calling.
To be able to have our family home for the holidays and have a marvelous time instead of seeing one empty chair and knowing it won’t be filled. In the summer to have an excellent time with our family all together. We will still all be together but it won’t be the same knowing that someone is missing.
If I could have one wish it would be to not have my days interrupted with thoughts of how it is going to be, to have the hurt just go away. To have my brother share my joy with me, when I graduate and get married and hear his congratulations. On my birthday to get one more crazy Ziggy card from him.
To have him play one more practical joke. After the joke to hear him bursting out with laughter. To have one time where I could get the best of him.
When Christmas comes to be able to buy him one more gift and see his expression when he opens it.To have him give me one more gift and treasure it in my heart.On Christmas morning to wake up again to the smell of his Costa Rican rice and beans cooking, after he spent time in Costa Rica. To hear his loud, cheery “Merry Christmas!”
I wish that I could ride once more on his black motorcycle with him, wind blowing through my hair, trying to talk at the same time and enjoying the time together. I wish I could see him once more and tell him I love him! I wish I would have got the chance to say goodbye.
It would be great to have just one more time to enjoy his presence with our family together. My brother was so special to me, that if I could have one wish it would be to have him back!
If I could have one wish now, I would still wish to see him again! Can’t imagine how it would feel to look into that handsome, smiling face of his. To have him see me as an adult. But I have another wish as well. A wish to honor his memory. I wish that people could realize the brevity of life, to not sweat the small stuff, to value people, not things, to forgive and to love, to do their best in making this world a better place!
To quote a dear friend, and in honor of my dear brother ” Cherish the Moments!”
I love you Nelson and am so very thankful for the 13 years I had you in my life. You impacted my life in an amazing way and you will never be forgotten!
The last picture is of him when he came home from Costa Rica. He had to do a cross cultural experience for college and he lived in Costa Rica for 3 months. Yes, he brought home a machete, he had used it to crack open coconuts to drink the milk.