Four years ago today, my brother took his last breath in the operating room at Jefferson Hospital.
He was 37.
We were by his side and Sinatra was playing. My brother loved music. He loved big bands. He loved Sinatra and Dean Martin and Lawrence Welk and Andre Rieu. He loved musicals and dancing and performance.
How funny that it was opening night, tonight, for Lily's musical Big Fish, the story of a man with so many stories. My brother had all the music. I had the words. Together, we were sort of had a musical. He could dance and I could exhaust you by talking too much.
I really miss him, you know? I really miss being a sister. I miss being his voice, while he was my heart. David taught me everything I know about real kindness--that kindness is something firm and fierce. Kindness can be honest and sometimes even hurt a little. Kindness is not being the nicest person in the room; but it is being the most open, the most available, the most forgiving, the most willing to make time.
I know he left me with enough love to last my lifetime--and several lifetimes. I feel it whenever music lifts my spirits and tonight, when his amazing oldest niece took the stage and sang with joy.
His love was all over that.
I am going to cop out a little bit on this blog tonight and share a bit of the eulogy I wrote for David, just one of my stories of him:As I mentioned, David was non-verbal. He could not speak. He could say Ma and Da and he could laugh—his laugh was loud and joyous and goofy and just perfect. He could make sounds to get your attention. But, I never once heard him say my name. There were some Ta or Tr or T-like sounds, but never Tricia or Trish or Tish or Pat (which, if he could have spoken, would be his name of choice, because It would have driven me crazy).
I really have no idea what his voice would have sounded like if he was able to say words.
But, David knew how to speak without words. It is tough to explain—unless you knew him. David was a listener. He listened. He observed. He watched. Once, when I was about 11 or 12, I had a huge argument with my parents. I don’t remember what it was about, but I do remember stomping and screaming and shouting and being sent to my room in tears and rage.
I slammed my door and there was a knock. I opened it, ready to yell at my parents some more and there was David, with a tissue.
Even then, I was surprised. I underestimated him.
David always knew exactly how to meet people where they were. He moved through life this way—offering tissues, offering handshakes, offering hugs. He was the good samaritan in an emotional crisis. David did not take sides. He did not care of the details of the argument. He was just ready to quietly knock and offer a tissue to his crying sister, who felt so misunderstood.
The number of times my brother knocked on my door in our lives togehter is impossible to count. He was always there with a tissue, a smile and then, happy to listen to my rage and complaining about my parents or my friends or my boyfriend. He’d hit at the air in agreement with my anger. He’d laugh in therapeutic mockery of the one who wronged me.
He’d bend down and offer his big sister a kiss on the head and remind her that she would never be without his love.