2019 was a tough year for our family and friends. Losing Michael was heartbreaking and stopped our worlds for a bit and certainly made for a tough act to follow.
Cue 2020… Worldwide pandemic. Covid-19 has officially replicated the oddness of the prior year . A year of lockdowns and, for no reason, a shortage of toilet paper.
I have not written for quite a few months. Not for lack of words or material but I simply did not want to write about the current state of the world. Mostly because it is EVERYWHERE one looks. However, I felt I had no choice.
Michael would have had quite the thoughts on what is going on in the world. Layoffs, shortages of essential products, lockdown, CERB, theories, sheeple, and government.
Although entertaining, the world has turned sour. Each for their own mentality. Greed has risen. People have hoarded necessary life supplies. And nobody has any reasonable explanation why.
I can definitely understand how mental health problems can amplify during these times. It is something I am learning about slowly, whether I like it or not. It can be a very lonely time for some. There are people without many of the resources we have that can make our lives so easy and convenient. Everyone has a struggle, some silent and some are shared.
Times like these we need to be together, in spirit, as much as possible. The season of lifting spirits is upon us, though it may not feel like it at times. I urge you to take the time to make eye contact with a stranger, or even say hello. Often times, we are now half hidden and might need a little encouragement to have a positive moment.
I’ve never been one to fear death. Yes, I’ve always been aware of it, maybe just something about the closeness of my brothers passing that brought new light to it. I’m not sure.
I don’t think it’s the death I fear I think it’s the inconvenience to my family and my friends. The change. And knowing it’s the end of life here.
The knowing at anytime my life could be taken and what heartache that would cause my Mum. I’m not sure how she would survive that.
With that comes a brand new feeling. I have also recently discovered the feeling of death anxiety. Something brand new to me. There is a certain level of fear connected to death anxiety. Fear of dying, which also brings out this odd fear of living at the same time.
I’ve never struggled with anxiety. I have always enjoyed being social. Now, I get the worst anxiety before I have to do something out of the house. I can handle the occasional grocery store run or gas station stop. But I have to be prepared. If I have plans with friends, driving there all I can think about is how to not die, all while thinking about the ways I could die being outside of the house. Such a bizarre feeling. I can’t wait for the summer so I can be outside, but still at home.
Every day is still a struggle to convince myself this is the new normal. That my brother is no longer here. I never would have thought in a million years that my 44 year old brother would die of a heart attack. Completely insane. It will never be ok.
There are a lot of emotions and feelings that happen after you lose your brother that nobody talks about.
In my case, my only sibling was my brother. There is this brand new fear of death. I was never scared of death much before he passed away. Maybe it’s not so much a fear of death and more like pressure to live.
Pressure to live, to not have my Mum go through something like that pain again. Pressure to live and to continue doing the things my brother loved. So he knows that every day I think of him. Everyday. I still have a hard time not crying, at least fight back tears at the mention of his name. Sometimes it only takes a thought of him and I’m triggered.
Lately my emotions get confused and shuffle themselves and buddy up. This new hybrid-emotion I’ve started feeling is something like a frustration-rage. I have no idea how it happens, but I’m sure it falls somewhere within the grieving process.
It doesn’t last too long, thankfully and if I’m fortunate enough for it to happen while I’m driving I can usually balance my self out with the help of some music.
My brother was always so excited for anyone’s birthday. Not just birth-day but birth-week. He loved to celebrate any occasion. He was usually the guy who sends the most ridiculous cards, memes or picture messages.
He always had a very unique way of making everyone feel so special, no matter the occasion. We are all truly blessed for having known Kool Mike. He made this world a better place.
This week brings us his first birthday away from us. It’s all I can think about, and is literally sucking the life from inside me. This grief is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. Tonight at dinner my mum and I caught eyes and looking into her eyes I could see exactly what I was feeling.
Next is Christmas, kind of a terrible double header of extremely sad firsts. I know it’s not going to be easy, this next month, but I will try to keep myself busy, healthy and happy.
Happy Birthday Michael. I miss you so much, we all do.
November 11th, we take time to remember those who gave their lives so we could live ours. Free and in peace. Those who sacrificed all they had. Some returned home to their families, and some were not that fortunate.
Each year that passes brings even more to remember. More lives lost in this past year. So much to be grateful for as each day passes. Family, health and friends.
The past few weeks have been a heavy weight on the heart. My mother in law, who has courageously battled cancer for many years has decided on a medically assisted death.
I can’t agree or disagree with this because I have never experienced this before. What I can say is I am proud of her decision. I admire her strength to be able to make that decision. And ultimately, it’s her decision and she has made it. It’s what she thinks is best.
The level of dignity in that decision is how we all should come to an end. No more pain for all. I know it seems strange to think about and many are not that fortunate. And possibly the most important thing at that time is to know how loved that person was. To be surrounded by your family, who loves you and wishes the pain would go away.
No matter the size of their family, big or small. Coming together to celebrate life and love is what matters most.
Memories really are the best things well ever have.
Recently this showed up at our place. I had purchased a subscription for my brother last Christmas, 2018.
I kind of forgot about it actually. I was so proud that after all these years I finally found him the perfect gift. He was so excited when he got the first one. I think he only enjoyed the first magazine before he had his heart attack in March.
He used to spend all of his money on the same things growing up- fireworks, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and candy. And any left over money went to more candy.
It breaks my heart that he didn’t even get to enjoy his whole subscription. Just another reason that his death wasn’t fair. Every day I find at least one more reason.
There have been so many feelings lately. My go-to, how-to, how do I guy is no longer here to answer questions or just be there to do things I’ve never done before. Or to show me how to do those things.
Growing up I always had a fear of lawnmowers. Well the time came a few years back when I had asked my brother to come show me how to use my new lawnmower.
Away he went, around the yard, over and over. When there was just a small patch left he turned to me and asked “wanna try?” I said, no, I’m still scared. So gladly he finished it. That was one of my favorite days with him. He never complained about the work anytime throughout the process.
I guess I’ll always have Google to tell me how to do something, or YouTube to show me. But nothing will come close to the brotherly love I’ve been used to my whole life.
This past weekend we moved my brothers family into their new home. It’s the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one. It was truly wonderful to see all the help from his friends. The original crew mostly. Fort McMurray old school came to help out. It’s amazing to see how many people he touched that are here for our family.
It was an empty feeling standing in his bedroom where he had his heart attack. Such a sad feeling. I often wonder if he knew what was happening that morning. Did he feel it coming on? Was he scared? Or did it happen so fast his body was unaware? I have so many questions that will go unanswered.
I just hope he knows the amount of love and prayers that surrounded him in his final days. At times, I would have guessed there were close to 50 people in the hospital waiting area. Out pouring of such strong love. From miles away. Old friends, new friends.
At his memorial service we had close to 300 signatures in his guest book. It was a very overwhelming day. However sad it was, it was filled with so much joy and love for one person. I don’t think my mum realized just how special he was to so many people. I know I had to take a second to take it all in before my speech. As short as it was, it felt like forever, I think because it was the largest crowd I had ever spoken in front of. I also knew if I went into too much detail about Michael it would have been extremely hard to make it through the whole thing.
Most endings are usually followed by a new beginning. In this case we hope it is a happy beginning.
Another question I’ll never know the answer to. I never imagined my brother would suddenly die in my early forties.
This was never the way it was supposed to go. We were going to be old and funny. Go to the mall for lunch, A&W For breakfast, rent mobility aid scooters, get discounted deals everywhere. Simply because we were old, and lived life. Celebrating being old.
I imagine Scot and I will still do these things, but it won’t be the same. I won’t have my big brother. The guy who always had the answers to all my questions. Every single one.
I’ve had so many questions buzzing in my head since he died. I’ve missed him so much and so many times. I’ve done so many things that I would have shared with him. He truly brought the best out in everyone.
I am Kathryn Lowe. Born in Wales, Raised in Fort McMurray
This is my journey. When you lose your big brother you lose your oldest friend. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. I am looking to share this story with you. I still have a very hard time opening up about it but I find writing helps.
Please feel free to share your personal experiences and feelings, as I know I am not the only child. Not the only child in my family and not the only child who has been tossed this same hand n this game we call life.