Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This one's for you, Rod.

My brother, Rodney, passed away ~ very suddenly ~ this month. After a life long battle with a rare, incurable disease known as Ehlers Danlos syndrome. He received his first heart valve transplant at the Mayo Clinic before I was even born. 

We were very connected through this blog. He read every post I ever wrote. (He’d send me emails if he spotted a typo. :) Each time I sit down and think about blogging I end up thinking about my brother, instead. 

This post is not about flowers, it’s a clumsy attempt at saying good-bye to one very special guy.


On a whim, 4 years ago, I started a blog. That first entry included some seriously deep prose: Hellooo. Welcome to my blog! After that I didn’t know what to say. And, probably would have bagged it. But, one month later, my Mother had a stroke and thus began the year from hell.

For some odd reason, I decided to stick with the blog and turn it into A Positive Place. My rule was firm: Blog happy, or blog not at all. Plenty of sad shit in the world. Let some other hack cover that beat.

It forced me to search for a highlight in an otherwise miserable day. Besides, it didn’t really matter what I wrote. Nobody read it. Except for my brother, Rodney. He read every post, we’d yak about them over the phone, and he'd send me a note if he spotted a typo. (English majors… they’re an odd lot.)

The only time he lost control and actually posted a comment on my blog was when I threatened to buy a horse. “Are you out of your GD mind!?” he exclaimed. I bought the horse anyway. Ended up buying two, since he was so vehemently opposed to the idea. ;)


If you've ever lost someone close to you, then you know how it works. It begins with a brief statement, spoken too quietly, leaving you wondering if you heard that correctly. You need it repeated. Some relative, one step removed, tells you somebody died, and even though you’d like to scream and holler and accuse that uncle of lying to you, you feel obligated to be equally quiet and polite. I should know. Been through it often enough. First Dad, then Mom. And, now my dear Brother. He was only 62.

Been drifting ever since. Up above. Down below. I didn’t come home sad. I came home angry. A flurry of activity. Watering, weeding, buying autumn flower bulbs. And ultimately throwing those flower bulbs away.

Moved out of my bedroom, into the guest room. Couldn’t sleep in the old spot anymore. Couldn’t sleep in the new one, either. Which is why ~ of all the caring gestures from friends: flowers, soup, herbal teas ~ when Kel showed up with an Ambien and suggested I simply disappear for 8 hours I thought to myself, now that’s not a bad idea.

Of course, the next morning it dawned on me why I’d been doing such a poor job of handling this. My brother was there to help me through the other times. My constant. The tough one when our father died, a savior when my divorce began to consume me. Coordinated every gory detail when our Mother passed away, 4 years ago, this month.

Selfish, shallow, inept me. With this one, I’m on my own.

We could not have been more opposite. He was older. Wiser. Sick, always. Spent most of his life indoors. (I only came indoors when it was raining.) Every once in a blue moon, I succeeded in dragging him off to places he never should have gone. Ireland, Germany, Hawaii, 4-wheeling in the Utah mountains. Dangerous stuff.

That's the thing about illness and death. When it overshadows everything, you don't fear it. You get to the point where you tell jokes about it. Which is what we did. Pretty much all the time.

And, now he’s gone. Just like that. To a better place, where I can no longer keep an eye on him. And, while I know this is a good thing it may take awhile before I reach a point where I truly believe that.

Thanks for listening.