Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Tribute For my Brother

Is it by accident or by fate that we end up where we are, sometimes getting lost in the possibilities of the roads that we have not taken along the way.  Thinking back to when, to where, to how we have come to settle upon the small plot of earth which we inhabit now, it is not always clear.  What brought us here to this place that we consider home?  The seemingly small or large life events that moved us to the point at which we now reside could have been earth shattering, or, they could have barely made a quiet rumble underneath the soles of our feet.  I know that the string of events which led us to this point on a bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean was part my own spiritual earthquake, so to speak.  They say that you should never make any life changes or major purchases or important decisions following the death of a loved one but we did, and by doing so, we followed our someday dreams to the place that we now call home.  
We were led here by the very sudden passing of my younger brother.  My only sibling.  The only other person in the world who knew the punchline of my childhood anecdotes and jokes.  The sudden end of my brother's life was like the abrupt ending of a long conversation that was only just beginning.  Stunted, hastily cut short, truncated by an early exit.  It made us think.  A lot.  It made us wonder if "someday" was too presumptuous and too far away in pursuing some of our dreams with a major one being a home near the beach.  And so, we did the one thing that we were told not to do in the months following my brother's death.  We decided that it was time to purchase another home near the beach.  We dove in head first without doing a lot of thinking(we might have thought ourselves out of it) or searching.  We opened the gate which led to the front yard of this place and knew that we had found it. Over the course of the past five years, I slowly began spending more and more of my time here.  I didn't want to leave.  We had a beautiful, large home that our daughters had spent over a decade of their lives growing up in, but after my brother died, it no longer felt like home to me.  Something about the peaceful call of the ocean was drawing me away from there.  I needed to be here.  

We never purchased this place as an intended full-time home.  I'm not sure why that was, and honestly, I do not really dwell on it.  With all of our children and pets, it is not really as large as what we have become used to over the years, but we do know that as our youngest two Angel Daughters get ready to fly off on their own, we will have more space than we need in the future.  We sold our large home last summer after our youngest daughter graduated from high school, and moved everyone down here for good.  I can feel my brother's presence, support and encouragement for our decision.  He has a favorite light upstairs that he has become quite adept at turning on and off at very appropriate moments and he visits us quite often even though he was never here in life.  I know that if he were physically here, he would definitely approve, yet I also know that if he were still here, we would probably be living someplace else.  It's one of those odd juxtapositions in life that needed a certain number of events to occur in order for the equation to work out as it did.  Would I prefer to have my brother still here and for us to live someplace else?  Absolutely.  Am I glad that his death lit a spark under our spirits which allowed us to make the choice that we did?  Absolutely, which is why I believe that there really are no absolutes in life, strangely so.  

Just after the five year yahrzeit(anniversary) of my brother's death a couple of weeks ago, Mark and I were in the car and it suddenly came over me that it was time to visit my brother's gravesite for the first time since his funeral.  I have considered going many, many times over the course of the past five years, but obviously, something(or many somethings) were holding me back from doing so because the thought would come and then just as quickly, go.  Mark said it was probably because I was not ready.  Maybe it was because my heart was still too tender, maybe it was because I knew what had(or had not) been inscribed upon his very simple tombstone.  The thought of my brother only being remembered as a "Beloved Husband and Father" and nothing else, is something that still stings me to the core, but I know very differently.  The sting is becoming easier to tolerate.  We located Rob's gravesite and placed three stones on top of his tombstone.  One for me, one for Mark, and one for our girls.  In Judaism, we place stones on the graves of our loved ones instead of flowers.  This is something that has been done for centuries as it is a constant way to keep building a memorial to the person that is more permanent than flowers.  When we arrived, there were no rocks on my brother's tombstone which seemed to break my heart more than anything.  It was the five year anniversary of his death and my sister-in-law had not bothered to bring his children to pay their respects.  Ouch.  I do know that others have been there in the interim since his burial and it is my belief that other mourners sometimes remove stones from other graves(as completely tacky and disrespectful as that is) because the cemetery does not leave loose stones just lying around on the grass.  It is customary to bring your own rocks, and not everyone thinks about that so whose going to tell if they "borrow" a stone from someone else's grave.  That being said, it struck me hard to view my brother's stoneless tombstone.  I knelt down to clean some of the dirt and bird poop from his headstone and then I looked up towards the sky and laughed through my tears.  Right above Rob's tombstone, there is a large tree with branches that hang directly over his site.  Something tells me that bird poop is not an unusual occurrence in this part of the cemetery.  I know that it will be much easier for me to return to the cemetery in the future and although I do not believe that it is where Robert's soul resides, it is where his body remains at rest and therefore, I will go back.  Robert Mark Sherman was my little brother and the sharer of my history.  He became a brother to my husband.  He was a son.  He was the most beloved uncle to my four daughters.  He was a storyteller and a comedian, oh what a comedian!  He could have me laughing until I could no longer catch my breath.  He was a loyal friend.  He wanted to make the world a better place by assisting the downtrodden.  He was a brilliant attorney who made very average grades in high school but when it came to passing the State Bar exam, he did so with flying colors on his very first try.  He was so much to so many.  His life was cut way too short by a failing heart which may or may not have been broken beyond what he could tolerate any longer.  

I often think about my brother when I gaze out at the rolling Pacific ocean, but most especially at night when the skies are clear and the stars are at their brightest.  Something about the constellation Orion brings me to immediate thoughts of my brother because I believe, that for some reason, he is probably  viewing it too, just from a different angle in the universe.  I am home, for now, and he is home, for now, and somehow I believe that someday we will see one another again in a different place.  And if nothing else positive came out of his sudden passing, I do hope that he knows that because of our sad loss, we learned to take the "somedays" more seriously in the now and that the love that we had and still have for his beautiful life was something which led us home.


Irene Latham said...

I remember when this happened and can hardly believe it's been five years. Some losses never go away. Thanks for sharing more of your brother with all of us. Keep going!

Jessie said...

i'm not good on what to say, but if i can be of help i'd like to say that i'm sorry and that i have no idea how you must feel. you have a lovely view though, not just from the house. life, etc.

Angella said...

What a beautiful tribute to your beloved brother. What joy to have shared your life with him, and how wonderful that the took the most powerful lesson possible from his loss. I know you will never stop missing him, but in another way, he is with you still.

Sending love, dear Debra.

Ness said...

Beyond all doubt, this has to be the most heartfelt post you have ever written. I felt like I could feel your pain, your laughter, your reasoning behind buying this Paradise home over the ocean that brings you much peace. My world is in turmoil today after finding out my son leaves in merely 6 weeks versus the June date we were given. I needed to feel peace today and you have provided that for me today in this post. Bless you my West Coast friend.

Miss A said...

This made me cry. God only knows why he had to be taken so early from you and his family, but it's so sad.
I am so happy that you have Mark and your daughters, and your father. (and mother?)
Many hugs.

miruspeg said...

A wonderful tribute to your brother Debbie, you are blessed with a gift of expressing yourself through words.

That is a fantastic photo of yourself and your brother, you both shine.

Here is a very pertinate quote for you:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Big hugs and much love
Peggy ♥♥♥

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