David was the kind of person who always went outside to meet the oncoming storm--whether it was the weather or just the rush of living. I remember biking with him along the Mississippi River when all the tornado sirens went off. I turned to high tail it home to my basement, but he went to the bluff to get a better view. I was safer, but he always had a better story or a brilliant photo. (Like this one he took in Northern Minneosta.) Water Spout at Leech Lake
I guess his death was the same--except this time we came along for part of the ride, then he took off without us.
It might seem strange, but the terrible, surreal time my family had together with David in Seattle was sadly special to me. We arrived in a strange city at night after a day of frantic chasing, and took our rental car straight to the hospital. Then we sat in the Trauma ICU waiting room where we given a list of incomprehensible damages. We pushed open those double swinging doors that said "Authorized Personal Only" took a deep breath and crossed the threshold to another world that was terrible and tender. We passed back and forth from airport, to waiting room, to hospital room, to meeting room-- disoriented and naive tourists with no guide book, speaking simple phrases like: "I'm sorry," "I love you" and "I'm not ready either."
I've often thought how strange it is that when life is most intense and out of the ordinary, it's mostly these banal cliches that we speak and also understand.
We travelled a carnival ride from despair to hope and around again finally arriving at an unarguable truth. Our love could not hold him here. Our love never did hold him down safe where we wanted. All we could do was hold his hand and say those simple phrases.
After he died, we stayed on in the endless rain, snowed out of our regular rhythms of home, held in that dreamlike state of suspended grief for a few days longer. But now I'm back to reality. And it's still the banal that gets me. Standing in the grocery thinking, "What am I going to make for the kid's lunches?" becomes "How am I going to make lunches?" becomes "How am I going to make it without my brother in my life anymore?"
Which turns into something like this song, which, even though it's a break-up song, sounds sort of right today:
I hesitate to share this, but I'm feeling that I need to be honest about something that just happened--and explain why this blog may change.
Last Sunday I went for a wintery walk along a favorite creek while my son sledded on a nearby hill. It was an afternoon of unusual beauty and calm-- and I find it impossible to believe that during that time everything changed. How could I not have sensed one of my brothers--stopped by the side of a snowy highway to work on his car--being hit by a passing truck? How could I have enjoyed the Minnesota sunset over a freezing lake as he laid on the cold Montana pavement?
After an ambulance trip to a local hospital, airlift to a regional hospital and then a medical evacuation to an out-of-state trauma ICU, he arrived two states away, in Seattle, as me, my sister Rachael and oldest brother Jack landed in Montana. We collected my mother and his daughter, but it took our family almost another whole day of driving and flying and driving to catch up with him. By that time he had started an unconscious journey of stabilizations, surgeries, tests, treatments, care. He was still beyond our reach.
His condition is his ultimately own story and as I heard his daughter say to someone on the phone, "he has so many things wrong with him, it makes me too tired to talk about it." So this is not the place where I will tell that story. But, of course, I am partly who I am because of who he is, and his story has often changed mine, and will continue to in a profound way. So this place too will change--I just don't know how.
I feel like it is excessively self-centered to keep writing about sewing, laundry and knitting at this time, but I also know that as I come out of the shock, it will be important to keep writing and making stuff. At the moment, I just don't know what it will be.
We have so many questions, and usually the answer is, "We don't know, we just have to wait." That's where I am right now. Waiting, hoping, praying.