Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Gentle Brother: By Barbara Brunner

I was the dominant one. David was quiet, gentle, and easygoing from the beginning. Although I was born three minutes after my twin brother, I took on the role of “big sister” right away. I was rambunctious and active, even before birth. It was probably because I was making so much commotion in my mother’s womb that her doctor tried to assure her that she was carrying “one large baby” instead of the two she tried to convince him of. He heard only one heartbeat, and I am sure it was mine because I was probably “lying on David”, something I hear I did a lot of after birth.

I took care of David. On our first day of kindergarten when it was time to go in from recess, I refused because I could not find him. In the fourth grade, I went to talk with David’s teacher to set her straight because she had been unfair to him about something, or so David thought. David really did need to be taken care of - he was an accident looking for a place to happen. When we were three years old, he almost died from a near-fatal concussion when he fell ten feet into the deep end of our empty swimming pool. At age four, he walked off the end of a pier. Luckily, we were avid swimmers, and my dad just reached down into the water and pulled him out. At age six, David broke his wrist while climbing a fence. At age ten, a dog bit him in the throat which required stitches. When we were 16, while driving he reached under the car seat for something and totaled his car. At 23, while cleaning his rifle, he accidentally shot himself in the stomach. After he was married, he was hit over the head with a baseball bat during a barroom fight, which caused him to have seizures for the rest of his life.

Considering his history of sometimes fatal and horrendous accidents, it was rather ironic what caused his death at age 36. Just a quiet accident that caused him no pain, only death.

Four years earlier, I had flown to Texas following David's divorce to help him drive back to Ohio. After having lived with our mother those four years, he had been seizure free for over a year and finally regained his drivers license, got hired at the postal service, was able to get his own apartment, and became independent at long last. He had recently seen and reconciled with his ex-wife and two small boys (who sadly didn't even remember him) when they visited relatives in Ohio. Things were definitely turning around for Dave, and life was looking good for a change. It was a short reprieve from the hardships he always seemed to face.

My mother had not heard from David for a few days, and she got concerned. She talked his very reluctant landlord into unlocking his apartment, and it was then that she found him on the floor next to the kitchen table. The autopsy revealed that he had died of asphyxiation three days earlier after choking on a piece of steak during supper. It was unclear if a seizure caused the piece of meat to come up into his throat from his stomach or if the meat was just too large to be swallowed. It didn’t matter. He was dead.

When my mother found David, she called me at work and told me what had happened. Two co-workers drove me to his apartment which was swarming with police. They would not let me see him, and I remember screaming at a police officer that I wanted to see my brother. I was not allowed, and was whisked off to the office where my mother was waiting for me.

I consoled my mother, and went into my “take charge” mode making many telephone calls. Later that afternoon at my mother's home when it actually sunk in what had happened, I broke down and cried uncontrollably for hours.

David was cremated. One of his boyhood friends from Florida flew up for the memorial service and took David’s ashes with him. He and several old high school buddies sprinkled them in the Atlantic Ocean while boating, something David had loved doing. Because he loved the outdoors, it was only fitting that David’s memorial service in Ohio was held at a local park. I had written some thoughts about my twin brother that I wanted to share at the service, but I could not: the minister who was officiating had to read them for me. I had written that David exemplified the word “gentle-man”, because he was such a kind and gentle person.

Early one morning a few weeks later while sitting at my desk at my job, I remember crying and asking God, “Why? Why did David have to die at such a young age?” The answer came almost audibly. “Death was David’s reward. He is with Me.” Whoa! The enormous amount of despair I was feeling vanished. I realized that because David was finally at peace, I should be too. David was in a far better place that anything this world has to offer. I was glad that his life struggles were over, but sad for me, my mother, our family, and especially for his boys.

There’s a verse in the Bible that says something like “the world was not worthy of them”, and every time I read that I think about David. He was too good for this world.

It has now been 27 years since David died, and I still cannot talk or write about him without the tears flowing. I miss him. I miss celebrating our birthdays together, and it saddens me greatly to realize we will never grow old together. Because David was not just my brother, but my twin brother, part of me died when he died, and there is nothing on this earth that can fill that void.

Life goes on. We have not seen David’s two sons since his death. We have lost touch with them; they are now both grown. The longer I live without David and endure the heartaches, trials and tribulations that no one is spared on this journey called life, the more I almost envy him for the wonderful life he is now enjoying. He was taken from us far too soon, but maybe he is, after all, the lucky one. And I look forward to seeing him again someday – something I am assured of because he was born again (received the gift of salvation) a few years before he died.

David: my gentle brother. A truly gentle man indeed. My twin brother - quiet, gentle and easygoing until the end

No comments:

Post a Comment