Of course I was there, in Virginia, for him. Our baby brother. The trip had been long and stressful, I was cold because it was windy and rainy and I had brought my spring coat, thinking Virginia had to be warmer than Rochester, but I wouldn't have missed being with my family to say goodbye to Nate, for anything.
I stood in front of his casket and looked at him. He had had a stressful life and was gone at age 60. So young! He had been about to retire in June! I had been waiting for him to post his latest cruise pictures on our family website, when another brother called and told me he had died. Alone, in the men's room outside his office. Had he suffered? The coroner said no. I was thankful. I hoped I could believe him because, when his wife went to see where he was when he didn’t come home for supper, they wouldn’t let her in the building. They said she wouldn’t want to see him. They took him right to the morgue.
I knew that his retirement was going to be hard on him - he and his wife had taken their last cruise for a long while as she was going in for major surgery and he would be her caretaker for the next couple of years. I wanted to take him in my arms and hold him and hug him for all he had been through and all he had yet to go through. But I only straightened his tie. There was no hugging him as his body was cold and hard and his face held only the vestiges of what he had looked like. His true face seemed to be a mist around his head.
I remembered the oddest things about him. How, when he was a baby, he always seemed to pee all the way down to his shoes and socks which were always soaked, even though he had his diaper on, and I never figured out how he did that. How he had told us that, lately, he couldn't eat. He, who had been a big eater of all sorts of gourmet foods as he traveled around the world for his job, now wasn't tempted by anything. How he had to move out of this cold and snow because he felt it was going to kill him. But many of us say that as we struggle with how long winter is and how miserable, so it never occurred to me that he was telling us he was suffering. Like a lot of men, he didn't want to just come out and say it. So our family just let it roll off us.
And now the 6 of us who were left were here to say goodbye to the baby of the family.
I remembered that I had occasionally scolded him, as the oldest in a family of 9 sometimes has the right to do, but not very often. I thought he drove himself mercilessly. But I still loved him. I'm just sorry he was taken from us, but on another level I feel like it was a blessing. He had nothing good waiting for him when he retired.
Bye for now, Natie Nate. And I’ll hear your happy laugh again.
© 2015 Just Lynne - 4/4/15