my brother doug lost his battle with cancer last week. cancer, as it turns out, is a vicious beast that cares not one jot about your personal circumstances, or your age, or your children, or anything beyond the life it consumes. it's a horror to watch it take a person you love, and i truly can't imagine how awful it is from the other side. i hope i never know. is that selfish? i think everyone is selfish to some extent when faced with death.
it's a strange and surreal thing how this loss affects me. on one hand, i am devastated. i think about doug at so many random moments. i cry at strange times. but my day-to-day routines are continuing in spite of my underlying sorrow. what else can i do? someone asked me why i was back at work this week--where else can i go? i have responsibilities at home, at work, to my family--these don't end just because a life of a person i love is over. the show must go on, as they say.
and here's something i've learned through this whole mess--people have VERY very very different ways of dealing with grief. whole families have different styles of mourning. and people are unbelievably judgmental of how everyone else does it. empathy is hard for those close to the dying, and it seems that the very closest feel that they are the only ones in true pain or with a true sense of loss. not so.
my brother's life wasn't an easy one. it was filled with turmoil and trouble. but in the end, he had what he felt was a second chance--new family, new job, new role--things kind of falling into place. yet still, there were unaddressed difficulties and sadnesses for him, always. it does seem particularly unfair that the cancer came and struck him down just as he was starting to pull up. life's not fair.
doug was the best storyteller i have ever known. he gave awesome big giant bear hugs. he laughed easily and well. he was charismatic, and people from all walks loved him. even those he had done poorly by loved him--some of those best of all. he liked things simple and not fancy. he loved cauliflower more than anyone i've ever met. he never met a stranger. he loved cars and trucks and big machines with big engines. he was proud of his skill with a crane. he was proud, period. he was crappy with money, not always honest, and plagued by addictions. he loved fiercely his brother, two women, two daughters, a boy who was effectively his son, and the rest of us. he was too young to die, and we were all unprepared for it.
i am still unprepared.
robert douglas jones.
december 15, 1960 - march 22, 2011.
rest in peace, my brother. you are missed.