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Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's October Again

It's October again. I used to love October. Autumn is such a
beautiful time. I remember the colors. I love the smell of the
leaves and the crisp Fall air. I can still hear the crunch of
leaves under my feet as I walk down the sidewalk.

Children play football and jump in piles of leaves. Yards are
filled with fun and scary Halloween decorations. Between Fall
Festivals and Halloween events, there's so much to do in
October. It's a great month.

But not anymore. I try to focus on everything that is special
about October. I want to enjoy this time. In the end, it all
feels so fake. I'm overcome with sorrow. It's the memories of
Charles that hurts so much.

October was always his month. My brother was born in October. He
was almost a Halloween baby. We always had pumpkin pie on his
birthday. I bought him Halloween decorations as a birthday
present because he got a kick out of it. He had a good sense of
humor.

Charles would be 41 this year. If only he had lived. The dead
don't age. I have to remind myself that Charles never even made
it to 39.

There was some sort of symmetry to Charles' life. He was born in
October. He also died in October. I will never forget that day.

It was a Friday. My parents and JD were out of the house for the
evening. I was home alone when someone came to the door. I
could hear the dog barking and knew someone was there. I don't
answer the door when I'm alone. I figured it was just one of
JD's friends, anyway.

My family returned and we had pizza for dinner. It was a typical
Friday. Jd was on my lap while we sat in the living room. We
were being very silly. We both laughed as we goofed around.

Someone came to the door again. My parents went outside. I
didn't think anything of it. JD told me there was a police car
outside. I joked that maybe they were here to arrest him. He
giggled.

A few minutes late, my mother came inside. "Bad news," she told
me. Again, I wasn't concerned. She always says "bad news" and
then tells me something that isn't really important at all. "Bad
news. We are out of bread." "Bad news. Dinner will be late."
Whatever.

This time was different. "Charles is dead," she said.

I just sat there in utter disbelief. The words made no sense.
Finally I asked a stupid question. "Charles who?"

She repeated "Charles is dead." I knew she meant my brother. I
didn't know what to do or say. One second I was laughing with my
son. The next moment, I'm being told that my older brother is
dead. I had no clue what to do.

I said the only thing I could think of. "I'm so sorry." My poor
mother... Charles was her baby just as JD is mine. Things like
this aren't supposed to happen.

My mother went back outside to talk to the police. I had to tell
my six year old son that his favorite uncle was dead. I took
him up to bed and lay down with him as he sobbed in my arms.

When JD was finally asleep, I went to my mother to find out what
had happened. Her hands shook uncontrollably as she tried to
sign to me. Inwardly, I begged her to say something other than
what I knew she would tell me. It had to be an accident. Maybe
he was hit by a car, I told myself. Even being the victim of
some kind of crime would have been better. At least then I could
blame the criminal.

No. None of that was true. Charles had committed suicide.
While his fiance was at work, he took an overdose of medication
and died. He did it to himself.

The worst part for me is the idea that he died all alone. I can
only imagine the mental state he was in at the time. The pain
and hopelessness... The shame and disgrace... No one should have
to die like that.

The next few days were horrible as we tried to cope with our
grief. My mother didn't leave her bedroom. None of us wanted to
eat. But we tried to keep things as normal as possible for JD's
sake. He needed to know that life goes on.

Was it cruel fate or a sad coincidence that Charles was buried on
his birthday? In some ways, it made things easier. We dealt
with the pain of his funeral and birthday at the same time. I
will never know how my mother got through the day. 39 years
before, she brought a baby into the world. And then, on that
very same date in October, she laid him to rest.

This was one time when I felt thankful to be blind. I couldn't
see what was going on. My mother described the urn and Fall
flowers to me. But I didn't see any of it because I didn't want
to.

I refused to touch the urn. As long as I didn't touch it, I
would never have to see my brother as nothing but harsh metal and
wood. In my mind, he's still very much the flesh and blood I
always knew. Touching that urn would have ruined the image of my
brother as a living person.

Maybe I'm just fooling myself. I don't care. We all do what we
need to in order to cope.

Charles was buried in our local cemetery. My parents bought a
plot that will hold six urns. that way we can always be
together. I never imaged that Charles would be the first of
our family to be buried in that plot.

We said goodbye. It rained for an entire week. It was as if all
of Heaven wept with us.

Life went on despite our pain. We took comfort in knowing that
Charles had finally found peace. We focused on JD and the joys
of childhood. After a few weeks, my mother came down to dinner
again. Each day passed so slowly but we found our way through.

That was two years ago this month. It's hard to believe that I
exist in a world without my big brother. Then again, he is still
with us because he's always in our hearts and thoughts. I miss
Charles. I still love Charles. That will never change.

So It's October again. I try to enjoy the month, but I'm
overcome with sadness. October is Charles' month. He was born
and died in October. The leaves, the colors and the smell of
the Fall air... it all makes me think of Charles.

I recently read a script for the television show "One Tree Hill."
In the episode, a character was performing a song she supposedly
wrote. I don't even know if it's a real song. It touched my
heart deeply and made me think of Charles. The emotions... the
pain.... the sorrow... I dedicate this song to my brother.

It's October again,
Leaves are coming down,
One more year's come and gone,
And nothing's changed at all.

Wasn't I,
Supposed to be someone
To face the things that i've been running from,

Let me feel,
I don't care if I break down,
Let me fall,
Even if I hit the ground,

And if I,
Cry a little,
Die a little,
At least I know I lived,
Just a little

I've become much too good,
At being vincible,
I'm an expert,
I play it safe and keep it cool

But I swear
This isn't who I'm meant to be,
I refuse to let my life rule over me,

Let me feel,
I don't care if I break down,
Let me fall,
Even if I hit the ground

And if I,
Cry a little
Die a little,
At least I know I lived

I wanna be somebody,
Who can face the things that I've been running from,

Let me feel,
I don't care if I break down,
Let me fall,
Even if I hit the ground,

And if I,
Cry a little
Die a little,
At least I know I lived...

It's October again,
Leaves are coming down,
One more year's come round and gone,,
And nothing's changed at all.

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