Family, Personal

A Thing Called Love, and Life, and Death

Sometimes I just close my eyes and imagine a warm, comforting embrace surrounding me. I imagine so hard that I can almost feel it. I also do this when I lay my weary head onto my pillow at night. I close my eyes and imagine a caring hand pulling the hair from my face and resting it softly behind my ear. Sometimes it’s ali’s hand. Sometimes it’s my mom’s, as though I am a little girl again. I go through my days and nights physically deprived of touch. Of hugs. Of warmth. So I imagine it until I can almost feel it. Sure, you say, there are lots of people that never feel the warmth of a hand on their shoulder or a kiss on their cheek. But I grew up in a big family where there were plenty of hugs and we always said ‘I love you.’

Tonight I curled up on the couch to settle in for the BBC Drama, A Thing Called Love. I found myself facing a season finale to a show that I watched each week in anticipation of the two main characters, best friends, getting together. If it was going to happen, this would be the episode. I didn’t know the drama that I was in for. About ten minutes into the show, the main character’s brother gets hit by a car and dies. Thus pummeling me and my emotions through a whirlwind of flashbacks throughout the remainder of the show.

The death of a brother in a television show or a movie or even of someone in real life is an emotional experience for me. Everytime it evokes a different emotion and reaction. Tonight it was the sadness that fills you from the pit of your stomach, rises in your throat and you vomit it out in tears. Sometimes it just an oh, I know what that feels like. And it hurts.

But tonight, there were parallels in this story with mine. There was the main character, the older brother. He tells his parents that his brother has died. He holds his mother up as she collapses into his arms. He coaxes her into putting her clothes on, changing out of her robe for the funeral. He talks about his parents being in shock and I remember watching mine. His mother leaves pictures laying on the kitchen table that were chosen for display at the funeral. I flashback to sitting in the area where my brother’s bed was. It had been a room created for him off the livingroom area. I had the task of pulling out photos from his life to post on a big board because his was going to be a closed casket, I just didn’t want everyone to see him that way. So dead. So not alive.

Throughout the event following the brother’s death, his best friend is there, checking on him, being there even when she doesn’t know how to be and I remembered my friends coming to the funeral. To the wake. Just being there. Not knowing what to say or what to do. But creating that bond, showing that they were there for me. No matter what. Even when they felt uncomfortable. They were still there.

The main character enters a practice hall to listen to a symphony. He requests a song he has just heard at their performance the night before. They play it for him because he is on the way to his brother’s funeral. I flashed back to something I hadn’t thought of in a long time. After our brother died. My other two brothers and I just sat on the couch and watched Fantasia. Did we watch it? Did we sit there the entire time? I remember it being on. I remember the music. I remember the trance. I remember the emptiness at the same time as the life that was still there.

The character in this show that brought all of these memories and feelings forward made a speech at his brother’s funeral. I did that too. Before I went up to the podium to read a something at my brother’s funeral, my brother Bill squeezed my hand and said ‘I love you’. I don’t know if he will even know how much that meant to me and the strength it gave me to walk up in front of the crowded church. What I read, I don’t remember. But what this character said made me remember how it felt to be there, in that place. Talking about my brother who had just died.

He talked about love. And how it’s what pulls us from the depths. It breathes life into us and there is death and we will meet it someday, but that love is what life is all about. It is why we exist. It pumps blood through our veins. It makes us feel pleasure and pain. And I thought of ali. And I thought of my life with him and the love that I feel, that we create. And it’s that love you want to grow old with and walk through life with. When I first met ali, it amazed me because he was born the same year as my brother Josh.

After the funeral, he is standing over his brother’s grave and she comes up to him. She tells him that he is the reason for growing old. She spills her heart and he chokes back a smile and tears streak down both their faces and I am holding back the sobs. I bite down on my lip as I smile through the tears. They kiss and it was as though I could feel ali’s lips against mine. And I was back at the moment I began with. Imagining the tenderness. The love that is always there even when I have to strain to hear it, to feel it. It surrounds me.

sigh. perhaps there are typos and thoughts that might not sensibly fit together. but it’s late. my eyes are puffy. and it’s time for me to go to sleep to get up and start the day again.

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