October 6th is a date that will be etched into my brain for the rest of my life. It's not a day I celebrate a birthday, a new job, a birth or an anniversary. It's the date I mourn a death of someone who meant the world to me. You see, my brother died 19 years ago on October 6th.
We were 11 months apart, my brother and I. Irish twins. We were best friends. Growing up in a home with six children my brother and I were conspirators. As young adults, we were even roommates for a short time. We talked on the phone every day. When he was upset with me, I would call him "bubba". A nickname from childhood when I couldn't say brother - and it always made him smile. He was a kind person. He would do anything for those he cared about. He was taken away much too soon at age 22. A car accident that left him lingering in a hospital bed broken and bruised, giving us hope where there really was none. It took me years to replace the image of him lying there almost unrecognizable, his face bruised and swollen with the happy memories of the life he led.
I was away on business on this day and I mourned alone. Much like the days after his death when I sat alone away from the well meaning family and friends that visited my mothers house. Many people tried to comfort me with their words or hugs, but I just wanted to be left alone. The pain was so overwhelming that I struggled to breathe. They meant well, but I didn't want to reminisce with them. They couldn't understand the depths of my pain. I was young back then and had never experienced such a profound loss. I am much older now and would have welcomed the chance to talk about him, to say "remember when..." But it was not meant to be, so on this day, 2,000 miles away from home I mourned alone in my hotel room. I remembered my brother whose smile could light up a room. I thanked God for his beautiful daughter that he left behind, who has that same beautiful smile. And I said a prayer for my bubba, who is missed but never forgotten.