A Letter to My Brother
Recently, my baby brother passed away on Friday 8/7/20... he had just turned 47. He had Schizophrenia most of his life. His life was cut tragically short by an aggressive form of Pancreatic cancer. Robert was dealt a really bad hand in his life. I can’t think of a worse possible disease, than having to be trapped in your own mind. Through my work as a trained grief counselor, I wrote the letter below to him as part of the process of working through my own grief.
Luckily, you did have moments of peace. I will be forever grateful to Barbara and Jim, two elders from a church in Fort Lauderdale. They gave you kindness and love without judgement. They are your true guardians and ours because they brought you back to us.
I really can’t believe I am never going to see you again. I am going to miss your sweet smile, your beautiful big brown eyes and your kind soul. I am going to miss the presence of you. I am going to miss never being able to hug you again. I am going to miss bribing you with 40 bucks to shave your beard, which lasted all of one day. I am going to miss Jill and I holding your hands, dancing around you and you smiled, I saw your beautiful reflection in the glass. Thank you for putting up with your crazy sisters. I am going to miss watching you wolf down either Chinese food, McDonald's or Domino’s pizza.
I am going to miss all our phone calls. I am going to miss you always wearing flannel pajamas that were always too big for you. I am going to miss your subtle way of trying to protect Jill and me. I am going to miss our short-lived but beautiful monthly visits with you. I am even going to miss your strong opinions about things that made no sense at all. I am going to miss you always calling me Mary Magdalene for no particular reason. I actually looked her up and am more confused than I already was.
I will always remember Jill, you and I together. I will always remember cuddling up with you in your bed. I will always remember you showing us your karate stance. I will always remember squatting in a yoga position next to you. I will always remember you going up to the front desk and asking the nurse for a coloring book for me.
We will forever be the red bug killer force; I think we were 5 and 12 at the time. I also have our unofficial marriage certificate; I think we were 7 and 14. I will always treasure it.
When I had the dream of a butterfly landing on my face, the night before you passed away, I think you were preparing me for the transformation that was about to happen.
I am so sorry Jill and I never got to take you to the beach. I am sorry, I never kidnapped you away from that place you hated. I am so sorry we stopped you from living the life you wanted. I am so sorry we stopped you from being independent. I am sorry for not trying harder to get you to New York. I ask you to please forgive me for making promises I couldn’t keep. Everything I did was out of love for you. From childhood, the two memories that stand out for me which I ask forgiveness for is scaring you by starting a fire in the fireplace without the flu being opened. You reminded me of that incident for the next twenty years. I am also sorry for picking up your cute little feet so your ice cream cone would fall on the floor. You never seemed to have caught on that prank.
In my heart I know you are finally truly at peace. Thank you for giving me the sign that you were okay by having the white caterpillar appear in the grass and then the two butterfly decals on the car in front of us.
Thank you for giving Jill and I one more opportunity to advocate for you with the wrong grave site. I have a sneaky suspicion you had something to do with that. By the mistake the cemetery made, we were able to put a whole coat of dirt on you to keep you nice and warm, instead of one little packet of sand.
My dear Robert, you have taught me to be a stronger person, you have taught me about unconditional love and acceptance. You have taught me to always fight the tough fight. You have taught me never to prejudge anyone.
I will think about you every day for the rest of my life.
I am so relieved you are back with mom and all our relatives who passed away and loved you so fondly.
I know they will all take care of you and you will finally have a clear mind, a healthy body and the life you have so deserved.
Please keep sending me those signs, so I know you are okay.
Goodbye my dear baby brother, goodbye.