I remember it like it was yesterday (except it was 15 years ago), my mother woke me at 3 in the morning to tell me my eldest brother has passed in Minneapolis from heart issues.
I didn’t go back to sleep that night.
It was early Saturday May 5, 2001.
One of my closest friends was getting married that afternoon, I wasn’t in the wedding but another close friend (whom 8 years later would be the best man at my wedding), and I were going.
I was in a haze for months after this.
I later got dressed and went to get my friend, as soon as I got him I told him about my brother, he told me we didn’t have to go but it was the big day for our mutual friend. This day had been in the works for a year and half, I had to be there.
But not tell him the news until he returned from his honeymoon.
That whole wedding was a fog to me, it was at Saint Michael’s in Old Town with a reception at Maggiano’s in Oakbrook and it was beautiful.
But I couldn’t enjoy it, I could not stop thinking about my brother.
That week we had mandatory FAA training at United Airlines and with that and the arrangements were being done by my father’s ex wife (my brother and I had the same father, different mothers), I didn’t find out about the arrangements until the day of the wake and the day prior to the funeral.
Due to work, I was able to attend the wake, but not the funeral.
I have to remind myself about that when people don’t attend funerals (not to be quick to anger), you never know their circumstances.
It’s my biggest regret in life not attending that funeral and not somehow working something out at work.
But I was a second year United employee and 25 years old and didn’t handle work things well and didn't had a lot of funeral experience under my belt like I do now.
My brother had been really ill with heart problems the year prior but made it through but me being young I took it for granted that he’d always be here.
After he was gone, I got serious about writing, since he too was a writer (much better than me), not to mention a rapper, drummer and just a talented man.
I bought a used laptop and wrote and wrote in his memory.
I also started visiting other family members more often and when my uncle died suddenly the next February, I was prepared with time off, I had spent a lot of time with him and handled it considerably better than my brother’s situation.
It still hurts.
15 years later it still hurts, he’s the man that introduced me to all kinds of music.
Gave me real world advice with women.
Every Christmas I think of him because how he played music for us at the holidays.
He was only 35 years old.
I’ve lived five years longer than him.
It used to haunt me but now I make sure I have no wasted days, I support his son’s music (he’s an aspiring rapper in Saint Paul MN), by listening and giving feedback.
And when our dad got sick and passed two years ago, I didn’t miss an opportunity to serve him and make sure he was taken care of until his military burial at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. I took a lot of time off and made sure I was involved in everything.
But 15 years later, it still hurts and my life has never been the same. But so much better having had such a great big brother who helped put me on the right track.
But it still hurts.
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Filed under: African American History