Home > Family, Life > All for me and all for him.

All for me and all for him.

Today is my brother’s birthday. If he were still alive, he’d turn 35 today. No matter how I’ve tried during the 16 years since he died, this time of year still crushes me. I never consciously anticipate how I’ll feel. Something happens around the third week of October. I’m suddenly crying for no reason. I break my routine. I’m distracted. I can’t figure out why I feel so out of control.Then I’ll remember. Scott’s birthday is coming, then my birthday, then the anniversary of his death, and another new year where I don’t have my brother. I think about how he won’t be there if I ever get married and have kids. I think about how he didn’t get to be there for his best friends when they got married and had kids. Now, I’m thinking about how Scott wasn’t at my dad’s wedding, and he should have been, and it’s stupid that he wasn’t there. It’s all selfish thinking. I don’t want the memories. I want to see him, face to face, and talk, and be idiots together.

In my field of social work, we are always talking about re-framing, narratives, and meaning-making–ways you can take your difficult experiences and transform them into something empowering and healing. For the last few years, I have tried to do this each time October comes and I find myself crumbling. I don’t want to kid myself and jump over the sadness I feel, but I don’t want to get lost there. That terrifies me. So I have been trying on October 26th to make the day in the spirit of my brother. Last year, I competed into a jiu jitsu tournament on October 26th, and my dad was there. It was a hard but good day. It felt right. But nothing special was supposed to happen on October 26th this year. There was no built-in purpose.

My brother always did exactly what he wanted to do. Yes, he could follow orders. No, he was not selfish. If you were his friend, he’d do anything and everything for you. But Scott put a lot of focus on the things he loved (physics, engineering, cross country, track) and couldn’t get distracted or pulled away from that effort. His days were exactly as he wanted them to be so he could do all the stuff he loved. So today, I’m doing a Scott day. I’m only doing things I want to do and things that I love. So this morning, I did laundry and made almond butter before judo because I wanted to. Then I rode my bike underneath a perfect sky and over the Gray’s Ferry Bridge to judo practice. I loved every moment. Later, I will make my breakfast and lunch for the week and I’ll find joy in the method and routine of preparation. I”ll do a bunch of squats to rehab my hip flexors. I’ll go to the gentle yoga class I love at 6:00 PM for restoration. As I write this, I am listening to Nirvana. We used to sit at the dining room table, both engrossed in our school work, not talking, but feeling each other’s presence. He always picked the music, since he was older and asserted that right. It was usually Nirvana or Wu Tang. Sometimes Radiohead. Sometimes Marilyn Mason, which I will not listen to today because I hate Marilyn Manson and I don’t want to.

All for me and all for him.


Our faces pretty much stayed the same.

  1. October 26, 2014 at 21:49

    I read this earlier and hurt so much for you. I couldn’t think of anything helpful to say and decided to come back later. Well…it’s later and I still have nothing profound to offer. Just wanted you to know that I was here and I care, and I’m sorry you’re hurting. I hope you were able to do exactly what you wanted today. I like that idea. I might try it myself.

    • October 26, 2014 at 21:53

      Man, thank you so much for thinking about me and being present with me. I hope you enjoyed each moment today. I know that I did. When I went to yoga tonight, my instructor said, “Receive the sweetness.” I have been soaking it up from all the warmth wonderful individuals like you have sent me.

  2. October 27, 2014 at 00:42

    Lori, I never really knew Scott but, because of you,I know he was a very good and much beloved brother. Sending a hug from your cuz.

  3. Amy Kissane
    October 27, 2014 at 20:42

    Of course I didn’t know Scott but I know you, and I know that you have been given more to handle in your life than is fair, but I also see a person who has not let any of that hold them back. I see a person who has made the very best of their life and who is clever and beautiful and kind and creative and purposeful and strong. I am not a religious person but I know that there are many times when I imagine that my Dad is sharing a moment with me, in part because I know I owe my appreciation of that particular moment to him. I’m guessing you celebrate Scott almost every day and at some level he knows that, or at least it doesn’t hurt to think he does and that he is with you, because he is. I am so glad our paths crossed, Lori, and you will always hold a special pace in my heart. Love you!

    • November 1, 2014 at 14:13

      Amy, it took me some time to reply to you because every time I read your words, I start to cry. I hope you know the place you have in MY heart. You are my first good example of a passionate, strong woman who speaks her mind, loves her family, knows how to run things, and can also laugh at herself. That will never leave me, and that is why I love you!

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