Home > Family, Learning, Life, social work > Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday.

This morning, I received a photo message from my friend, Dennis. The message contained a picture of my brother in a compromising position, yet my brother’s composure remained unapologetic. Why would Dennis send me an inappropriate picture of my brother? Well, today is my brother’s birthday, and even though he died over 10 years ago, Dennis likes to celebrate his birthday with the sick sense of humor that brought them together in the first place.

I wish I was more like Dennis.

I don’t know how to celebrate my brother’s birthday. Hell, I can barely say my brother’s name out loud. (It’s Scott, by the way). Most of the time, his birthday just creeps up on me and I think that the date doesn’t really mean anything to me. Today, though, I had a really hard time and I blame social work. This year my field placement this year is at a women’s transitional shelter which practices the Sanctuary Model, a form of trauma-informed care.  As a part of my work, I co-facilitate a group on Wednesday mornings which addresses trauma-related emotional triggers and responses, and how to develop healthy coping techniques.

To prepare for these sessions, I’ve been reading articles about how trauma impacts brain functioning and the ways in which our coping techniques can become maladaptive. In the middle of this morning’s session, I found that I was getting upset and I slowly realized that today was my brother’s birthday. Suddenly I began myself thinking about his death (he was killed by a drunk driver) and frantically wondering if I was practicing the destructive dis-associative behaviors that my co-facilitator and I were discussing with the group. I was mortified to think that I was slipping into an observational member of the group instead of maintaining my role as facilitator. As a therapist, yes, I can integrate my experiences and insight into my practice in order to empathize with clients; however, I can never, ever make it about myself and detract from the client’s needs.

I spent the rest of the day trying to hold it together. At one point, I talked to my dad to discuss logistics regarding my upcoming birthday and neither of us mentioned what today was, confirming once again that I am truly Mr. Latimer’s daughter. I found myself wishing terribly I knew how to do what Dennis does and honor my brother in a way that is true to this spirit. Since Dennis is basically my surrogate big brother, I’m going to try to be like him right now and offer a little tribute list to my brother.

Some things that were awesome about Scott:

1. His hair: Until my brother was in his late teens, he kept his hair short to hide his curly locks and avoid teasing. Then he decided to embrace his natural looks and let his grown into an electric shock of blond curls. It was amazing.

2. His trillion watt smile: My brother had the biggest and best smile of anyone I’ve ever met.

3. He was a big, giant weirdo: My brother had strange taste in clothing, conducted gross experiments with food, and was constantly trying to invent ways to save time that were extremely impractical.

4. He was a compulsive over-achiever: In the last year of his life, my brother was a full-time college student with three jobs, one of which was a teaching assistant. He was applying for internships on top of all that.

5. He loved what he did: My brother was an engineering student whose first love was physics. When he went to parties in college, his friends would realize he was missing, only to find him alone in a dark room with a flashlight and his text book.

6. He made everyone feel special: I don’t know how he did it, but he made everyone feel like he was their best friend. If you were Scott’s friend, he’d give you anything you wanted, listen to you for hours, and always find a way to make you laugh.

So there you have it. Happy Birthday, buddy.

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Categories: Family, Learning, Life, social work
  1. October 26, 2011 at 23:29

    What a great way to honor your brother. Thank you for sharing him with us.

    Happy Birthday, Scott. And God bless you and Mr. Latimer.

  2. Anita
    October 27, 2011 at 09:09

    Thanks for sharing Lori. What a beautiful tribute to your brother.

  3. Dennis
    October 27, 2011 at 18:13

    Lori,

    Your posting was wonderful. Thank you for everything you said. Your tribute to Scott really made me smile and I am so happy that you were able to express those thoughts. I was hesitant for a brief moment about sending you that picture, but I am so glad that I did. I believe that in doing so it keeps him a part of our lives. Without getting too sappy, Scott was the most genuine and truest person I have ever known. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about him or utilize the lessons I have learned from him. He showed me the true meaning of friendship. And he taught me how to view the world with an open mind and an open heart without filters for race, color, or religion. In the diverse environments I’ve worked in, I’ve often thought of his genuine curiousity to know and understand people, and I have found many answers in so many difficult and challenging times. Love you Lori. Thank you again for writing this.

  4. October 27, 2011 at 21:41

    @Brandi and Anita, thank you so much. I’m so grateful to have you as friends.

    @Dennis, I’m going to try to not to get sappy, either, and it’s hard for me to recognize and acknowledge sometimes some of the good things that may have come from losing Scott. One thing I can think of is that I really got to know you and that we’ve grown to be friends. More than that, you and the guys are my family.

    I have the best big brothers.

  1. October 30, 2011 at 14:33
  2. November 20, 2011 at 19:42
  3. December 29, 2011 at 15:59
  4. October 27, 2012 at 21:54
  5. October 27, 2013 at 15:29

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