Sunday, March 31, 2013

Brother

Brother.


I miss saying that word.  I miss the way it blooms in my mouth, the way it rests on my ear.  Brother.  I miss the thrill that rushes to my heart to hear the word, to hear the voice of the person that the word represents.  Brother.
It does not seem accidental that the anniversary of Paul’s death falls within the Easter season.  Easter has always been a treasured time with my family.  It reminds me of my mother, who would stay up all night hand-painting our Easter baskets, filling them with paper grass (not plastic) and our favorite treats: Cadbury crème eggs, marshmallow peeps, and eggums-we always had to have eggums.  My mother, who would hard boil 8 dozen eggs so that we could each have 2 dozen to dye.  My mother, who is always smiling, always forgiving, and whose un-shatterable faith makes her the strongest woman I know.



And it reminds me of my father, who was a numerical genius with an important job, a stressful job.  But he read the Bible every morning while tying his tie, dawned a seer-sucker suit on Easter Sunday, and whistled while lightheartedly hiding the Easter eggs after church.  My father, who remained humble and kind and lively, despite his secret knowledge of a limited earthly life.

And it reminds me of my siblings, my dear siblings who humored me by still hunting eggs when they were well into their teens, probably even their twenties.  They taught me how to be normal after losing my father when I was 14.  They pushed me and shaped me and taught me who my father was, who I needed to be.
My two sisters and I speak our own language; I hold them so dear.  One confident, brilliant sister, and one tender, intuitive sister, both equally darling.
And my brother.  My brother never made anything about himself.  He wanted to know about you-your dreams, your loves, your losses.  And he never forgot.  If you mentioned in passing that you liked a band, you could bet that a burned copy of their CD would be in your mailbox by the end of the week. His chicken-scratch handwriting would be the only clue as to whom it was from.  He was thoughtful.

I remember when I was in sixth grade he bought us a pair of matching Airwalks.  I was and still am a huge dork, and I think he thought those shoes would help me be cooler.  And I remember how he would play Radiohead's "High and Dry" on repeat and hum along while driving me to meet my friends at the movies when I was 15.  He did not have to try; he was effortlessly lovable.



For a few years he made my sisters and I stand in the freezing cold from 8am-8pm ringing the bell for the Salvation Army during the holidays.  He (jokingly, but also seriously) wouldn’t let us sit down: he demanded us in costume and dancing or singing for the full 12 hours, and we had to rotate bathroom breaks.  It makes me laugh just thinking about him in his “Skinny Santa” outfit, one of my favorite memories.  He was so funny.  He was witty and smart and always laughing. He could spend $5 at the jukebox and only play “Toxic” on repeat, and somehow everyone in the bar would be in love with him after listening to that singular Britney Spears tune a million times.  
He could turn a family argument into a hilarious, treasured memory.  He rarely became angry, and he never held a grudge.  And he was a great dancer.  He took turns with each of us at weddings, twirling us fast and hardly having enough breath to laugh. 

He was always taking turns with us and our mother, taking care of us.  He not only moved me in and out of college four times, custom fit my dorm room bed with a twin-size headboard, and escorted me for deb balls and countless father-daughter events, but he took care of me emotionally, too.  He took every opportunity to tell me how much he loved me, how proud he was of me.  He could do anything.
This to me is the moral of Easter: to be a brother.  To put yourself last, even if you suffer, to be kind and gentle and to forgive, to help others forgive themselves, to cherish the ones you love and love the less fortunate, the bitter, and the jaded, to practice selflessness and to be a servant. 
I can still see him helping Joey paint our den, humming and occasionally asking for help: “Hey Lala, come hold this…”.  And I can still hear his voice on the phone, each time always greeting me in a goofy, high-pitched voice: “Well hello there, little Laura Ann Daly!” This hole in my heart is indescribably painful, but I can find peace practicing the lessons that Paul taught me.  And I can find peace knowing that God is proud of the short, but powerful, life that my brother lived.

1 comment:

  1. Amen and amen. I miss him so...LA what you said is all so true. He is so proud of you and your Momma and sisters for carrying on. And not just carrying on but doing it with style and grace and honoring him and HIM. Paul will so be there (and your Daddy too) playing golf and having fun Saturday! I love you. Lisa

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