Two years ago today was the worst of my life. It might have started out like an ordinary sunny Saturday in late spring, but it mid-afternoon everything came crashing down when we got the news that my brother had died.
It was news that was hard to process and to this day still is. The days that followed were dark and difficult. They went by quickly and also slowly and painfully. My memories of the week are blurry. There was so much stress and so much that was done in such a short time. There is still much pain associated with that time and when early June comes each year, I cannot help but reflect on those days.
But this year I chose to think about the incredible kindness that surrounded my family when my brother died. Of all the people who supported us in the dark time.
My parents had a long drive from the Jersey Shore to get home that Saturday afternoon. How could I not worry about them as they headed north? I remember calling my pastor, who was also a good family friend. He was about to perform a wedding (something I knew, but completely forgot in the moment). He still took the time to speak with me and when he said he would be over after the wedding, I told him not to come. Nonetheless, he did. Along with the choir director (another longtime friend) who also came by after the wedding. Some may say it was part of the job description, but I say it was something else.
Then there were all the neighbors who came by when my parents got home. So many people who were just there to be there. After all there was nothing that could be said or done. Yet they came and gave us their love and support.
My son's behavior stands out for me that day. He was not even seven years old. What could he do to help? He stood at the front door and held it open for everyone who came by. He was a perfect gentleman in the midst of chaos.
There were cards from so many people. And people who showed up at the funeral 5 days later. Friends of my parents who drove up from the shore. The director of music from my brother's college who drove 3 hours each way just to be there. My dear friend Susan who came to be there for me from NYC...and I don't even know how she found out. More neighbors and friends from church who just there as a support system. As the days went on, there were more cards and donations in my brother's name to the local rescue squad. (I especially remember the one that came from my co-workers.) All of these acts of kindness and caring still resonate with me.