Trading pain for happy memories?


Today is my brother Erik’s 36th birthday. For some reason, this day becomes sadder for me the longer he is dead. It’s been almost 9 years now, unbelievable! I went to the cemetery for the first time this year. I don’t go there often. While I love cemeteries, it is not the place I need to think of my brother or to feel close to him. But today, I felt like taking a walk through the forest and climbing up that evil hill you have to conquer in order to get there. I sat down on the ground in front of his grave (yeah, that might be weird, but who would tell me not to?) and enjoyed the sun and the peace. Sitting there, I remembered a conversation I had with my friend Ula recently. I told him that my parents had some problems when I was only three and mused that it might have been better for them if they had broken up back then. Ula said: “But if they had, your brother wouldn’t have been born!”. I replied: “If he hadn’t been born, he couldn’t have died on us!” I thought it was a weird thing to say the second I said it.

So today, I wondered: would I trade my pain for not having had my brother? Usually, I would say no in an instant. But since today was especially hurtful, I thought yes for a little while.

So, is that really true? Would I trade growing up with a little brother, sharing my room with him and being totally annoyed by him playing cowboy while I wanted to listen to Alice Cooper in peace? Would I trade him telling me that my skirt was WAY to short and he would not let me go out like that (at which I just laughed and slammed the door into his face)? Would I trade the moments in the hospital when we laughed so hard at our own jokes that we were in tears? Would I trade him visiting me in London, his face all puffy from the cortisone and getting lost in Green Park with him? Would I trade running into him in the local Irish pub, both of us shit-faced and in stitches? Would I trade screaming at him in the schoolyard because I caught him with a cigarette while I was still smoking mine? Would I trade my little brother who trusted me so much that we played the “Fall backwards until I catch you” game for hours? Would I trade the only person who totally got me, no matter how weird I acted? Would I trade standing in front of that hole in the ground and hearing my sunflower hitting his coffin? Would I trade all this for the pain of missing him?

The answer is: hell no, for nothing in the world!

This is life – you win some, you lose some. But you cannot avoid good experiences because you might get  hurt. If you live in fear of getting hurt, you might as well not live at all. I had my wonderful, sometimes unnerving, perfect brother for 27 years. He lived a hell of a life. He was a hell of a guy. So once again I am thankful, and I say: Happy birthday, Erik!



6 thoughts on “Trading pain for happy memories?

  1. I’ve never lost anyone close to me. I also don’t have siblings, and to this day I feel like I missed out on some primal experiences. I have no idea how I would deal with such a loss.
    You wrote this beautifully. Look at you today, so strong and such a good person!

  2. Pingback: Six feet under | The German Perspective

  3. How…How do you find your strength? The strength to write about something so enormous? I lost my little brother in August of ’08, and I struggle every single day.

    Although I have only read two entries, I’m so glad to have stumbled upon your blog. I suspect more reading and more sharing will bring great relief and hopefully, perspective. Thank you for sharing. Thank you. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Brad! I only started to be able to write about it after a certain point in my grieving process. Now it helps me to channel my feelings. Looking forward to reading from you, too, maybe?!

  4. Pingback: Perspectives on strenghts, perception of weakness | The German Perspective

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