I thought about saving this post for "Wordless Wednesday" and only posting a photograph of my brother, but then I decided that I wanted to make a few comments, so here we are....
Today is the 4th anniversary of my brother’s death. Mike (Johnson) was only 57 when he died of lung cancer on January 30, 2007. I wrote a reflection about his death three years ago, here.
Here’s a picture of me and Mike when I was sweetheart of his little league baseball team…
… and a couple of years later, dressed up for a piano recital…. (He was much more gifted than I was. By high school he was playing lead guitar in a band.)
And here we are on my first day at Chastain Junior High (7th grade) where Mike was a 9th grader.
Every year the pain gets worse, rather than better. I’m already on my 3rd glass of wine, just looking at these photographs. Death, and the loss of a loved one, is never easy. But it’s especially painful when there are words that never got spoken. Hugs that never got given. Understanding that came too late. That’s how I’m feeling tonight, as I think about my brother’s death. We were only 15 months apart, and once we survived childhood (we both suffered a lot of emotional and verbal abuse from our mother) we became close friends as teenagers.
During my sophomore year at Murrah High School, when Mike was a senior, we even double-dated, acted in a play together (see photo—“Our Town”), and went on church retreats together.
In 1970, Mike made it home from the Philippines (Marines) for my wedding. But the decades that followed found us drifting apart, as we chose contrasting lifestyles. We dealt with our “issues” in different ways, and it wasn’t until Mike was on his deathbed (I was with him when he died) that I realized that we might could have helped each other if we had communicated better. If we had been better listeners.
I won’t be driving down to Jackson today, but on my next visit, I plan to stop by Natchez Trace Cemetery and visit his grave again. I’ll pray the Orthodox Prayers for the Dead, and maybe sit on a bench under a nearby tree and just remember him.
I love you, Mike.