As Time Runs Out

I have no words as I lost my brother yesterday afternoon. In remembrance of his beauty and bravery of fighting the battle for his life, I am posting this essay I wrote about him. I wrote this on the prompt “Reflections on green” , and it was published on Women’s Memoirs. I posted a link to it at the bottom of another post a few weeks ago so you may have already read it. My dear sweet Monte, I will cherish the memories and love you forever.

Though he was ten years older, I still tagged along in his lush world as often as he allowed. We ventured from tranquil ponds and running streams to the thick forests of pine and fern to the flourishing meadows below our house.

We frequently circled the reservoir, taking in the frosty fragrance of the surrounding mint. Monte would reach his hand over the concrete ledge to pull me up those last treacherous lichen entombed stones. Together, we leaned over the mossy water and watched the tadpoles scurry between our grasping fingers. We’d slide our fingers over the velvety algae coated sides of the reservoir and pull up strings of deep green slime and toss them to the center of the aqua pool, watching the fish nibble at our meager morsels.

I was forbidden to swim there. It could have been the age difference or the fact that he was a boy that gave him the approval of my parents. I watched him dive and whirl in the crisp cool water throughout those hot summer months. From the sides, I kicked and splashed with hopes of connecting with him through the deep. Our laughter rippled like the water’s surface and echoed through the grove of poplar and oak. I lived for the times Monte placed me on his lap and paddled the inner tube across those forbidden waters. Unlike my mother, I never feared we’d drown.

We moved on from the reservoir to the emerald pools of the soapstone quarries. Again, I was not allowed to swim. I lived through my brother. I watched him search for treasure beneath the giant boulders. I held my breath and tasted the earthy bottom in his every dive. My body sighed in relief each time I saw his bubbles burst upon the surface. I heard the tiny plops as the fish emerged around the whoosh of his rising body. I inhaled the pungent sediment from the murky bottom as he stepped from the water. The cool breeze whipped against my bare legs as he shook the water from his skin. I both envied his freedom and exhilarated in his experiences.

I was still quite young when he moved away. Minnow bucket and fishing reel in tow, he popped in throughout the years. I was finally allowed to swim, but splashing and diving had been replaced with fishing. I never really liked fishing, but still I tagged along. We sat there, side by side; he in his world and me in mine. When I found my own freedom, I dropped fishing all together.

Bound by blood and water, we continued to live out our days. He cast his line from river bank to river bank, and I drifted out to sea. He ground his boat upon the rocks and decided he was not a seafaring man. I refused to spend my afternoons on a riverbank with minnows and worms when my peace was found Oceanside.

Though we never connected in the deep as I’d hoped, I see his reflection all over my life as we are here so many years later being pulled in and pushed out by the tide. We are both fighting against the crashing of the waves as they are pounding upon my brother. Cancer. Terminal. Growing rapidly. One month. I feel like we are drowning. My mother’s fear has come back to haunt me. I fail to see the green in this situation. Cancer is black, pulling us under, as slick and unyielding as an oil spill. I ramble through the leaves of memory, knowing there is no return to our verdant days of childhood innocence. I fling my memories in with the minnows, nibbling away at me, and together they dart in and out of my heart. If the roles were reversed, Monte would tell me to climb on his tube and hold on tightly.

I have no lifeline for my brother to hang onto, only my hand. No matter how swiftly the river runs, I’ll hold him as the river twists and turns through the grassy fields on his way back home.

67 thoughts on “As Time Runs Out

  1. Even when we know the day is inevitably coming, it is stil so painful when a loved one passes away. I read your essay when you posted the link before, and it is such a touching piece.

    My prayers are with you and your family.

  2. Wow Susan! I have read a few of your writings and this one…again WOW!(Tears)… I love you and again, you are in my heart, thoughts, and prayers and I’m here if you need me. I too lost a brother as you well know so I know that hurt, and I know you, like me miss our brothers, yet did not want to see them suffer any longer. Danny Ray and Monte are together will all our other loved ones in Heaven right now…what a reunion they must be having there. I have an image of Monte when I spent time with you all during summers when I was younger. It is as follows:
    Monte and Gary after spending their day(s), maybe summer jobs, would come home, shower, and I recall Monte freshly showered, no shirt due to summer time heat, in jeans, hand on hip, standing and talking, and sipping a cool drink with the most wonderful happy smile…This is the image that was in my mind yesterday when I received the calls from cousin Sharon and my Mom. This is the image I still have and it is a very happy and sweet image in my mind. As I told you already, Monte was very special to me and I remember his hugs and kisses when I was young and spending some of the best times in the summer in my life were with you all. Thanks for sharing the above story! Love, hugs, and prayers, Belinda

  3. Your initial statement hit me right in the solar plexus and tear ducts. No other words are as powerful as “Today I lost my …” Wow! What a beautiful relationship you have with your brother. I say have, because it will remain alive as long as you. May the water and memories bring solace and peace.

  4. There is a river that flows and carries us all to safe shores of peace, and beauty and joy, that is where your brother is right now resting and sending love back to his family and friends and all who knew him and even to those who never had the opportunity.
    My hearts breaks open with you for really there is nothing one can say that eases the pain only time dulls it a bit. Beautiful memories of shared love by the river. Glad you had that time together.


  5. “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” ~ From a headstone in Ireland

    Heartaches and love appear to be opposites, but they are usually found very close together. Suzi, I pray your memories and love carry you through this time of heartache.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. I know what that deep connection is like; my older brother is the best man in my life and it seems like he always has been. My heart breaks for you, but at the same time it rejoices in the beautiful memories you’ve shared.

  7. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories with us. You have given me the courage to write about my own brother who died 1997 by suicide. I was 35 and he was 37. His life brought a lot of joy to anyone who knew him. Hugs. LS.

  8. My deepest sympathies. I was recently in a similar situation with the loss of my young mother, and sometimes experienced a loss for words in reply to condolences. Your essay is beautiful. When someone would say to me “I’m sorry for your loss,” I would respond “I didn’t lose her. I know right where she is.”

    Blessings and peace to you and your entire famliy. ((Cyber Hug)).

  9. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I have no words, but to share W.H. Auden, and hope it brings you some comfort:

    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
    Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
    Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
    Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

    He was my North, my South, my East and West,
    My working week and my Sunday rest,
    My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
    I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

    The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
    For nothing now can ever come to any good.

  10. Susan, I went to school with Monte and he was a great person. I am so sorry to hear about your loss, it seems that God needed another good angel for his side and bought him home. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family at this time.

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