If I close my eyes, I can still hear the sound. It’s the sound of his last breaths, the minutes that seemed like eternity as I watched him die and listened to the raspy sound of his lungs desperate to take in any air they could get. By that point, he’d had enough morphine in his body to not feel the agonizing pain of his body shutting down on him. Too bad my mom and dad and I couldn’t have something to ease our hurt as we watched the greatest thing to ever enter our lives, slowly drift back out of it, much too soon.
I can still see the look on his face as he struggled to breathe. His face was pale, gray almost. His beautifully blue, eyes which could have melted the heart of any girl who looked at him, had darkened as well and his body became limp as he stared at the ceiling. He was my best friend, the one I confided everything to, the one to know it all first. He was my soul mate.
Today has been 8 years since he left us and I find myself eager to pull up every memory I can of him. I sit and show my boys pictures of him and tell them stories about him. And I want to tell you those stories. I want you to know him, just like I want my boys to know him.
My brother was easily the most amazingly annoying thing to enter this earth. Our birthdays were 6 years and 2 weeks to the day apart, which meant that we shared a birthday party on the week between our birthdays, mostly for convenience for our mom. One guess as to how much I loved that! (sarcasm).
He cried all the time. He was always attached to our mom, never leaving her side, even when I just needed 5 private moments with her. He was a mom monopolizer. Not cool!
He hated to sleep and when our dad banished him from their bedroom at night, I would awake to find he had crawled in bed with me.
He loved wrestling, or as we call it down south, wrasslin’. 80s music was his cup of tea. Pauly Shore movies made him laugh, .38 Special was his favorite band, Arnold Schwartzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were the movie stars he idolized.
He was constantly watching movies, a die hard Star Wars fan, but hated reading books. His food of choice was a 2 liter Mountain Dew and a large bag of Doritos. He was easily annoyed with laziness and incompetence. He didn’t have the patience for those who wouldn’t help themselves, but if you needed him he dropped everything.
He worked hard, hoarding money (we joked he was a miser). He treated his body like a temple, never drinking, smoking, or doing drugs. He was a work out fanatic and he longed to be a dad one day. He loved children way more than I ever did.
He loved to hunt and would come home with some of the greatest stories of spending a weekend in a cabin with 8 other men, who farted and snored all through the night. He bagged a couple of deer with the help of our dad.
He entered this world the purest of souls and I know for a fact left this world the same way. He was a realist, a lover and a fighter. He had two nicknames for me…fat legs (which I do now have thanks to my two darling boys) and Al, which was short for my first and middle name, Amy Lynn. No one else ever called me “Al”. I miss that.
He had something wrong with his ankles in that every time he took a step, his ankles would make a popping sound. Sometimes when I’m at my parent’s house, I hear that sound and I know he’s around. I just wish I could hug him one more time, to feel the strength of his arms around me.
I struggle with each passing day to not forget the sound of his voice or the way he looked. I want to remember his blue eyes and chuckle when I think back to a couple of nurses discussing how he looked like Ben Affleck. When I told him that, he suggested I hook him up. I told him to hook himself up since he was going to be around them 24/7.
We were each other’s strongest protectors. He was always there to save me and if someone screwed with him, you risked getting screwed over by me. I remember when he was first diagnosed with leukemia, he cried (one of the few times in the 3 years he fought it) and asked me what we were going to do. I said we’re going to keep living. When the leukemia came out of remission three years later and he was given 3-6 months to live, I cried and asked him what are we going to do. And he said, “You’re going to keep living.” Me. That’s who he was thinking about in that moment, not himself or what he would have to endure, but what my parents and I would have to endure. He was the most selfless human being I’ve ever met. He was my hero and everyone who knew him was a better person just for knowing him.
He was a Christian, a strong believer in God. On one of the final weeks when he was in the hospital I asked him if he was scared. He said, “no. I know where I’m going and it’s the most wonderful place to ever be. I’m just a little nervous about what I’ll have to endure before I get there.”
The day before he died, it had snowed and he begged our mother to put him in his wheelchair and push him around the driveway so he could enjoy it. Hours later she called to tell me they were at the hospital and the doctor had told her, “his little heart won’t survive much longer.” His little heart. Boy, was the doctor mistaken. He had the biggest heart of all! I told my mother I wasn’t ready to let him go. I went to bed, thinking that we still had plenty of time left with him, only to be urged by God to go to the hospital. I’m glad I listened to Him, because had I not I wouldn’t have been able to cuddle up with Brian one last time as we laid in the hospital bed talking about our childhood while our parents tried to nap. We shared our last laughs together that night and to this day I’m forever thankful to God for encouraging me to go.
Today, I look at my boys and think what their lives would be like if Brian were in them. Davey has his name, but Henry has everything else. Henry looks like Brian, acts like Brian, he is Brian. My mother and I sometimes confuse him. They both have a piece of Brian in them. I just wish they could have actually experienced the magnitude of Brian.
So, on this day, the 8 year anniversary of his death, I wanted all of you to know one of the most wonderful lives I was ever a part of. It was easily the greatest 25 years I’ve ever experienced.