2009 is a year I will want to forget, but will not.
It is the year in which my younger brother succumbed to lung cancer, after a too brief and too devastating few months.
It is the year in which my mother was taken by a slowly leaking aortic aneurysm, laying just beyond easy reach and salvation. By the time it was diagnosed, she could not have survived the surgery. And so, we passed the time with her as she passed away.
Many in my family take some comfort in their religious beliefs. My brother did in his; my mother in hers, in her way. While she rejected the trappings of the church in which she was raised and in which she baptised her 11 children, she died believing that she would be reunited with her husband and the two sons who had gone before her.
If only I, too, believed. But I do not now and will never again accept the tales I was told as a child. My brain gets in the way; my heart remains closed. A pity? Some would say so. I do not. It is merely the way things are for me, as much as they are for the sisters who know they will someday see our mother and brother again. As Billy Pilgrim might say, "So it goes."
I am sad. Some days more than others. It pains me to work toward the closure of my mother's estate. Each day, another page in that process is turned, the end comes a bit closer. My contacts with my brothers and sisters grow fewer, briefer. We turn from the words of comfort we offered only two months ago to conversations about real estate and taxes, the sale of personal property. We struggle to divide the spoils of our survival in ways that leave us a piece of our mother and brother without depriving others of what they require or desire. We are not always successful.
I will survive. I will recover. My wife and my son will walk me out of this time as they have done before. For that, I am now and will always be grateful.