Family Bereavement: After they’re gone.

It’s always a funny week for our family, this one.

It should be my brother’s birthday. Well, I say should be – it is.

But he isn’t here.

My brother Ross passed away more than 20 years ago, when he was 27, following complications during surgery on a brain tumour. There’s no getting away from the fact that we all loved him very much, and his loss really was just that – a loss.

But it never seems quite right to be mournful on his birthday. Because my brother wasn’t that sort of guy.

He’s the one who taught me some of the silly games that are now my favourites to play with Flea. Like, if you’re walking down a busy street, pick a stranger and say, “Wow, Hi!” in a really surprised voice and then watch as they try and work out where the heck they know you from.

sally and ross

My brother had the most ridiculous sense of humour. He loved pranks. Like the time he put on a hoodie and knocked on the front door and asked me, “Is Ross home?” and I spent 10 minutes scouring the house for my brother. And I still haven’t fully lived down the time he hid under the stairs and somehow convinced me he was stuck in the microwave – and I opened it to check. Yes, I DO know how ridiculous that sounds.

He also taught me the game where as kids, we would walk into the road as a car was coming and then just as they almost make contact with you, fall over and shriek in pain. I didn’t teach that one to Flea, for obvious reasons. Although we gave it up after the day we played it and the driver who thought they’d run me over turned out to be our head teacher. Oops.

He had a good heart, though. He would always be the first to comfort you if you were upset. He was the one who watched my school hockey matches, who made sure my parents didn’t find out when I broke the rules. He would come up to visit me every year at university, even if he did end up sleeping with my flatmate, and crashing her car. She forgave him, though. He was far too charming for anyone to be angry with him for long.

As we grew older we spent weekends together. We’d often go to the same clubs, with our own friends. Then we’d walk home together and stay up late, putting the worlds to rights. After college, he worked as a home help, and later in a home for adults with learning disabilities. He volunteered with the local deaf club, and managed to charm his way onto their football team. Like I said, he had a good heart.

In other news I have no idea what possessed 12 year old me to wear this shirt.

sibling bereavement

My brother had such a good life. I just wish he’d had a little more of it.

So it doesn’t seem right to mourn him on days like these. And besides, life moves on. Life’s a bastard like that. So cherish the people you have while you have them. But we all knew that anyway, right? 

So I suppose I’ll mark another anniversary with a few moment’s thought about my brother, and at some point maybe  I’ll take Flea to the beach, and I’ll think about how lucky I was to have someone like my brother in my life while I was growing up. Then I’ll write a blog post, so you all know, now, that he was here. And now he’s not. And that’s a shame.

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