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Letter to my late brother

Posted Jun 01 2011 12:00am
This morning as I drove into work, I thought about all that has happened since you passed away. It is going on six months and the pain of losing you doesn’t get easier.  Mom is still away visiting family overseas.  She missed Mother’s Day in the states so she may have been able to get through Mother’s Day without you.  I couldn’t and didn’t want to imagine her here for Mother’s Day as a reminder of your loss.  I stop by every Saturday to Mom’s place to sort through mail, check voicemails, pay bills, and deal with the things she would do if she were here and I feel your presence everywhere.  You are watching over her home even though you are no longer among the living. I told myself yesterday that you were the second greatest man I ever knew – of course, Dad was the first.  You were a great man – a loyal son and loyal brother and even when we had our differences and you did not always approve of my choices – you still stood by me.  Feeling your presence in her home makes me feel like you are going to walk in the door the any minute – who could blame Mom for feeling the same thing?

Your lawsuit gets filed today.  I know how much you hated lawsuits and I know that if you were alive, you would tell me not to file.  I know that you wouldn’t want to blame anyone for what happened to you but I want someone to blame and I want someone to be angry at. I want answers so that I can have closure – we all do. I hate myself for wanting justice and restitution (because I know no amount of money can bring you back) for what happened to you.  A time machine, on the other hand…yeah, I know.  You accepted what happened to you with more integrity and humility than anyone I know.  What I knew about you is that you had more integrity and humility in your pinkie finger than most people have in their entire bodies – that’s why I know you would not want this lawsuit.  What I do know, however, is that if the tables were turned, you would do this for me and that is why I am doing this.  That is also the reason I fought so hard for you because I would have wanted you to fight for me and I know you would have.

What I want is to look at Mom and not see her suffering for all she has she lost.  She lost 31 years of her life and that is half of a lifetime for her.  And our baby brother, while he is almost 20, he lost Dad when he was 4 and you were the most important man in his life and he lost that.  I lost the relationship I desperately wanted with you.  When you got sick, I promised myself that you and I would get to know each other better and put our past issues aside and we did not get that opportunity.  We didn’t get that chance because of someone else’s lack of regard for human life.

There are medical bills that are unpaid and someone should have to pay them.  You suffered in the most horrible way and someone is responsible for that.  Mom lost 31 years of her life and buried her child and no parent should have to outlive a child and someone is responsible for that. Our baby brother lost the male role model in his life and someone is responsible for that.  You never had the opportunity to get married and have children and someone is responsible for that.  Your siblings all lost their brother and friend and your nephews and nieces lost their uncle and someone is responsible for taking you away from us. There is no question I am angry and I want someone to be angry at for taking you away from us.  I ask myself daily how we lost you and I still don’t know.  It is like a really bad dream that I wish I could wake up from but I can’t wake up.

I fought for you and I lost and you know how much I hate losing. This lawsuit means that our loss is important.  To the people who did this – your loss is just a number but our loss is significant thing in our lives and I want it to be known.  You were my brother for 31 years and that is major. To them – you are one of billions lost to mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure but to me, you were my brother and for 31 years, you were MY brother and your loss cannot be restituted fairly no matter how hard I try but your family is entitled answers and to closure. That is why this lawsuit is important.

When your diagnosis was given to you, you were immediately told your surgery had to happen as soon as possible and it was scheduled the next day.  What you did not have time to find out was that your cancer was caused by asbestos fibers invading the body and that it is a condition that 100% preventable but once person is exposed to asbestos, there is no way to prevent their developing the disease.  Without the surgery, you were given six months; the surgery was a last ditch effort to save you.  Most people diagnosed don’t get more than a year to live – I wish that we had a year or six months with you.  We had a miserable six weeks after we got your diagnosis and for those six weeks we watched you suffer and deteriorate away. 

Mesothelioma is one heck of a terrifying and debilitating disease and your family saw that first hand. It is not something I would wish upon my worst enemy. In my view, monetary damages don’t provide justice to our family but at least, they hold someone accountable for your suffering and ours. I want to stand up against this God-awful disease and the people who exposed you and many others to asbestos but I am not strong enough yet.  I thought I would be by this time but I am not.  The lawsuit is as close as I can get to speaking up for you right now.  I want you to rest in peace knowing that we did everything we could to get answers and to find closure.  Our family needs answers and closure and this lawsuit will give us some and that I know you would understand. Your loss is the biggest obstacle we have ever had to overcome and every day is a reminder you are gone.  Rest in peace my beloved brother.

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