Today is Mama Kat’s Almost World Famous Writer’s Workshop. This week I chose prompt #5.) Share a story about a sibling.
I started to pick another prompt and then I picked this one and I was truly stumped as to what to write about at first. I was trying to figure out which “funny” story to tell about one of my siblings and was at a loss to think of one that I hadn’t already told. I closed my Word document and went on to something else and then it dawned on me. Thursday is February 16th. It would have been Monte’s 59th birthday.
I can’t believe how fast time has gone by. Day after tomorrow will mark one year since he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I remember so well the conversation when I found out. I don’t think I will ever forget it. I had talked to both my mom and sister earlier that day. I was having a Pampered Chef party that night and was running like crazy trying to get everything ready for the party. I was a nervous wreck but talking to my sister always calms me down. I don’t even remember what we had talked about that morning but I’m sure we were talking about someone! We always share lots of laughs on the phone.
As I said, I had already talked to her earlier that morning so when my phone rang that afternoon and I saw it was her I flippantly answered the phone with “OK… so who died now?” I meant it to be a joke…. I meant it to be funny… I had no clue about the bomb she was getting ready to drop on me. I knew as soon as I heard her voice that something was wrong…. BAD wrong.
“No one.” She said….”But it’s BAD….REAL bad.”
My heart shot up in my throat and and I stumbled over my words as I choked out… “What happened? Who is it?”
“Mama just called. Monte has cancer. I don’t know much more than that.”
We finished our conversation and I was so stunned that I really don’t remember the rest of it. I remember sitting down and feeling numb. It’s one thing to hear that someone you know is sick but to hear that your brother has terminal inoperable lung cancer hits WAY too close to home. I had just seen him in October at the memorial service that we had for my Uncle Bo, my dad’s younger brother who had died unexpectantly of cancer. He (my uncle) never even knew he had it or if he did he never told anyone. But Monte had looked fine at the service. I had seen him two months before that at my parents 60th anniversary party, where we’d had out last family portrait taken that had all 8 of us in it. He looked fine then too. He never said that he didn’t feel well.
I had talked to him 2 days ago…. 2 short days before this horrible conversation with my sister and he said he was fine other than the “torn rotor cuff” that he thought he had. He was in considerable pain from his shoulder and he couldn’t raise his arm but he was FINE. He TOLD me he was fine. How could he have cancer two days later? I think I was in a daze the rest of the day and into the party. I couldn’t cancel it at that late time because I wasn’t even sure who going to show up. I zombie my way through the party and the next day until I could get in my car and drive to VA and pick up my parents and drive to the hospital to see my brother.
I will never forget the look exchanged between my brother and my father when they saw each other for the first time after Monte’s diagnosis. I’ll never forget the way he literally fell into my dad’s arms like a little lost boy. I had to leave the room to keep from bawling in front of him and making it worse. The next two months still seem like a blur. The multiple trips between GA & VA and between my parents and my brother’s house. The trips to chemo and radiation and the doctor’s office. It all seems like a blur.
I can’t believe it’s been a year since his last birthday. I can’t believe it’s been a year since his diagnosis. I can’t believe it’s been 10 months that he’s been gone. It all still seems like a bad dream. I can’t believe how much I miss him. I can’t believe how much I think about him. When you lose a sibling it makes you question your own life… your own mortality…. And it makes me realize that even though I loved him with all my heart, I never truly appreciated him. I wish I had gone ahead and hopped in the car more times when he was well and went and spent time with him.
Monte, I know you’re not here but I’m thinking about you. And I know I can’t call you and tell you happy birthday like I always did. And this year will be the first year that you don’t call me next month to tell me happy birthday like you always did. Although last year I was there with you on my birthday and I thank you for taking me to lunch on my birthday. I’ll miss your phone call and I’ll miss being able to pick up the phone to call “Monkey”. I miss you more than I thought possible. I love you brother!