Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An ode to my beautiful brother, Finn, on his 24th birthday...

Today is September 22nd. This is the day, 24 years ago, when I excitedly jumped up and down because I knew my mum (who we call Mutti) was going into labour and would shortly be giving birth to a little brother or sister for me. My brother and I were packed off to a family friend's house with our sleeping bags - a sleeping bag I managed to avoid sleeping in by claiming it was a pyjama bag - and we waited in anticipation.

It's funny how, on the eve of something tragic, your memories get etched into your brain. It's like your mind is desperately trying to hang on to the last shreds of a normal life, before something massive came through and tore the fabric of it completely apart. So I write this entry with the memories of a child in my mind, the subsequent information having been added later on. I don't mean to make anybody sad, so I hope that instead it can be an ode to my little brother, who I love still.


I remember the dinner we ate with the family there, and their two children, one of whom had been born with his organs reversed - a condition that had been deemed life threatening for him, but which he survived.

At that time, my little brother lost his fight inside my mother's womb. He died, his last heartbeats recorded on the output in the hospital. Nobody knew why. At that time, they decided they wanted him to be born naturally.

We were given a bath and prepared for bed at our friends' house.

At that time, my mother was giving birth to my brother. He arrived at 8pm. Unfortunately, so did the realization that a huge placental abruption had happened (like with Josie) and therefore out came most of my mother's blood supply. She tumbled over sideways drinking tea...

We were tucked in, excitedly, into a big bunk bed in our night clothes.

My father sat outside the hospital room as they worked on my mother, whose heart had stopped beating. His son lay beside him in a little hospital crib. A priest sat beside him - a priest who had no idea what to say (and therefore stayed silent) to the young man who stared ahead, his entire life shattered and his wife in cardiac arrest just a few feet away. The young man, who looked at his wife, beautiful as she was, and felt unable to comprehend the waste of such beauty. The young man who wasn't really encouraged to hold his son, and whose life had just shattered. 

I know the feeling, daddy. I know that feeling very well.

We were sleeping, awaiting the good news, in warm beds and loving company.

My Mutti was being read the last rites. She would, in total, be shocked back to life three times.

The night passed away as my little brother had. We awoke in the morning, and the last thing I remember was running up to my daddy, who had knelt near the doorway, asking if it had been a boy or a girl. I don't remember his answer... Mutti survived, thank goodness. We have her in our lives today and are so thankful for that, because she is a deeply special person: warm and generous and loving.

That was the last I remember until his funeral, with a tiny little white coffin that we lowered into the ground on a crisp day at the end of September. I watched it from the path as we left. Afterwards I asked my mum why she hadn't taken proper care of him... Ah, the confused minds of sad children - thankfully she had been prepared by the hospital for the very literal ways in which children grieve.

Now of course, time has moved forward twenty four years. Some of us talk about Finn more than others. Some don't talk about him much at all because it is still extremely painful - all of these views must be respected and embraced. Here we are, spread out as a family across the UK - things have changed and sometimes it hasn't been easy, but I tell you one thing - we love one another, all of us, honestly and purely. As I've grown older, I have come to realize the true value of family - that unbreakable bond that is so undeniably precious. Our family is a good family. There is respect, admiration, support, friendship and adoration in our family.

Every member of my family is wonderful to me - they all glow in their respective lights. All members, those alive and those that have passed beyond the veil that really is such a thin separation between the worlds. Every one is precious. Every one is equally important. Every one is held gently in the soft embrace of the other members.

So, happy birthday, my brother, who is important. He may not have been here for long, but his soul's spark was conjured from the universe and it glowed brightly for a little while, before going back to that great pool of life again. Somewhere in the universe, as with starlight, it's only just being seen. If the universe is infinite, then by definition, his life, and the lives of others, will continue making a difference - and mattering - forever.