This was going to be the summer I had back-to-back adventures, working in London for the Olympics and vacationing in Iceland. In addition to the former and instead of the latter, this was the summer I watched my brother Steve die, in the last couple of weeks helping take care of him so he could die at home as he and his girlfriend wanted. Diagnosed with metastasized esophageal cancer at the end of June, he died on the last day of summer.
A stark description of our childhood sounds too Dickensian to feel right to me — father died young, mother with schizophrenia, moved from relative to relative. Those obscure the other details that we were always loved, always had someone to take us in, always had each other.
He was — he is — the most important person in the world to me. The only one who’s been there always. Even as kids, maybe I didn’t know I’d end up happily paying long distance charges to talk to him and voluntarily going on vacation with him, but he was my only stability in a scary world. All my life he helped give me the confidence to go out in that world and be who I am, because I knew there was someone who knew me better than anyone, who loved me anyway, who was proud of me.
He helped me appreciate music, science, scifi, computers, and “dumb comedies” that weren’t as dumb as I’d snottily dismissed them. There’s a reason I’m drawn to people with smart, sarcastic and slightly goofy senses of humour. And why I never quite believe them when they tell me tall tales.
We share 50% of our DNA, but that’s the least of it. He will always be an important part of who I am.