It's been exactly three months today since my brother died. And since then I've been thinking about it--thinking about him. Well, sort of. I've thought about him a lot in the last three months. About the way he died, which is terrible, any way you look at it. Just enjoying a meal during his break on a Sunday afternoon. Choking to death. Choking, and he knew he was in trouble, he knew it from beginning to end. I have to admit, every time we've had meat in the last three months I've thought of him, and have to cut my meat as tiny as a baby's.
Sometimes in the last three months I've pictured him going about his day at Universal Studios Theme Park. It's an odd disconnect to only have been there after his death, to only have walked in his world without him in it. Of course he's not there, but I imagine it anyway, ushering folks to their seats, laughing up at the actors on the stage, playing jokes on co-workers, teasing them in the break-room, taking their picture. I know--I know!--he's left the building--shoot, he left T2 exactly the way every paying guest does, straight down that wide ramp. I guess going there for us was sort of what how T2 is billed, "The ultimate experience," when you think of it. Going to the place where an estranged brother died, to find out what we could about his life and his death? Not many experiences in life measure up, I can tell you!
And since I really can't picture Andrew in a place he no longer exists (I am not, after all, delusional!), I picture all those people we met who told us stories of him.
Tom, his supervisor, who tried to save his life, and kept saying 'lethargic' when he meant 'agitated' about Andrew choking (leave it to me to notice), and gave us umbrellas because it was pouring rain when we left the building.
Diva, the human resource director, younger than her name suggests, who helped so much.
The woman who worked safety with him, who said, "He's my best friend--at work."
the man who said, "I've known him since he first bought a year's pass, 17 years ago."
Mary, who talked about how upset he was about his roommate selling Dad's navy whites
The woman who said our story made her want to reconnect with her sister.
The man who said, sobbing, "I always told him to take smaller bites."
The truth is, I didn't think of him very often in the last decade before he died. Or when I did, it wasn't with kindness. Anger, yes. Resignation, quite often. But not kindness and certainly not with love. But I'm coming to terms with that, to terms with not having been in relationship with him for all those years. When he pulled away, he was making a choice. And when we didn't go after him, we were making one as well. That's the bottom line of it, and though I don't presume to know the reasons for his choice (understanding the workings of Andrew's brain would take skill far beyond this lay-person's!), I know that I couldn't/wouldn't have made any other choice, given what we knew, as we knew it.
So all I can really say is that I wish I could have said good-bye. If I'd known it was going to be good-bye.