How to say good-bye to a brother? It’s new to me and I don’t have the answer. My brother Alan died recently from complications of a lung transplant he received almost five years ago. The lung began to fail and the prognosis was that Alan had less than six months to live, or maybe sooner, or maybe only weeks. However, it turned out it wasn’t even any of those predictions. As my husband Bill and I were in the air on the way to Oklahoma to see Alan, we didn’t know that he had taken a sudden turn for the worse. When we landed I called my sister-in-law Ellen to tell her we had landed and we were on our way. She then told me Alan had died less than two hours before.
When a loved one who is suffering dies, the first thought is there is no more suffering and the loved one is at peace. After that, the family left behind is in disbelief even though our brains know what is eventually going to happen. It takes the brain a while to accept the reality.
I have no recollection of Bill and I going to baggage claim after the phone call to Ellen. Bill sat me down in a quiet deserted area while he went to get the rental car. After about ten minutes of uncontrolled sobbing, a door opened out of nowhere and an elderly woman with a cane, along with a woman who was probably her daughter, walked in and sat down not too far away from me. They obviously saw me in distress and as they got up to leave, the elderly woman slowly walked over to me and touched my arm. She said to me, “I hope whatever happened will get easier for you in time.” What would the world do without the kindness of strangers?
Now our family will have to get used to life without Alan. We will miss his calm demeanor in any situation. We will miss his strong faith, quiet nature, and how he could manage to make any situation easier, no matter how difficult. Alan loved his family and said he didn’t want to die until his first great-grandchild was born. He got that wish just a couple weeks earlier. Less than a week before he died I asked what he would like for me to cook for him when I arrived. I guessed he would pick a comfort food of my mom’s, and he did. He requested her family favorite Pepperpot Soup. I never got to make it for him.
Even with difficulty, especially for his beloved wife of fifty-five years, the world will go on without him. His children, grandchildren, and one great-grandchild will always carry his love with them. Alan may be gone, but our love for him is with us always.
Rest in peace, Alan. Your sister will love you forever.
And now there are three.