There were mother and father, two people who should never have gotten together. There are two half brothers, from my father's first marriage, and the aura of their mother, who died from a disease that took her too soon from her sons. There is the ghost of my half sister that my mother bore with her first husband who died shortly after birth. There are also the step mothers and step father, various step siblings including the one placed for adoption as a babe, and then who attended elementary school without know who her birth mother was, or that my father was married to her. And of course the various aunt, uncles and people who we would told were aunts and uncles, but were just friends. And three sets of grandparents.
But the core family was my father, my mother and the two half brothers.
My father died first. That freed me from years of emotional blackmail and abuse.
My mother died. That freed me from the anchor that had been my identity.
And on Wednesday, one of my half brothers died. It weighs me down with sadness.
And it was the half brother who I idolized and was closest to. In the picture at the headline of this blog, he is the one in the back, leisurely posed. The picture is from his Bar Mitzvah 50 years ago.
He was only 63 when his heart and organs let him down.
So now, there are only two of us who remember the things that were our family. The house we lived in Shaker the first time that our father and my mother tried to make a go of it. And the house that our father and my mother bought after their first divorce and tried to make a go of it in. The few good times. And the many bad ones.
Later this week I will fly to California for the service. And then I will fly home to try and construct a new reality where he no longer calls and I can no longer call him.
To honor brother, be nice to someone. Hold a door open. Smile at someone. Get your eyes examined. Do something to take care of your heart. Hug your children. That was him in a nutshell.
This is going to take some getting used to.