Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Yellow Rose, for one more day.


What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?

I ran into Target today to grab a couple things and then found myself (as I often do) in the book section. I saw a copy of “Tuesdays With Morrie” and picked it up for a friend who has never read it. I have had the good fortune of meeting Mitch Albom and really like him, and this books.

I got home, took a look and dammit, I had picked up the wrong one. The book I bought was titled “For One More Day” instead of "Tuesdays With Morrie" by the same author. I opened it and read these words on the cover flap; “It explores the question: "What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?” It made me think of a song by Lonestar, and the lyrics: “One more day…one more time. One more sunset maybe I’d be satisfied”. Suddenly a sleeping demon burst awake in my chest and its fist grabbed my throat, sent pain to my head and tears to my eyes. I have lost grandparents who loved me, baby cousins I had never met, pets that were friends, but those hardly compare to the aching hole in my heart that will never again be filled which was left by the death of my only brother. He died in his sleep at the age of 28 from a heart condition we didn’t even know he had. We were close, my brother and I. One night I went to sleep and had a brother. The next morning I didn’t.

You would have liked him. I know that most people do not speak unfavorably about the deceased. People don’t’ usually say, “Yes, I’m glad he is dead, he was a real son-of-a-bitch”. Typically, the departed are referred to with kind words. That isn’t the case with my brother because he wasn’t just kind. He was a remarkable guy; he was the most loved person I have ever known. Everyone who ever met him liked him. Most loved him. His funeral service spilled out into the halls and corridors of the large facility. His boss brought dozens and dozens of yellow roses. Each person placed one in his casket before it was closed and he was covered in a blanket of pale yellow petals with only his beautiful face showing when the locks clicked in place. His first grade teacher sobbed uncontrollably and could not be consoled. There was not enough room for the plants and flowers that covered the tables, plant stands and floor. Everyone had stories to laugh and cry over, three babies were named after him by friends and family, two while he was alive and one after he was gone. Commemorative t-shirts were made in his honor and local newspapers were filled with tributes. Whenever I run into his old friends, coworkers, neighbors, teachers, girlfriends or anyone who knew him, I see the same look of bereavement, the same wondering why, shaking of the head as they tell me “I wish he was still here”. It has happened many, many times and it probably always will.

I could talk about him for days but I won’t, not right now. At the funeral I gave the eulogy for our family and spoke about how his death was going to impact us. Now, I want to talk about his life. I have dealt with the loss of him by realizing how privileged I was to have been on wonderful terms with him when he left. There was never an unkind word spoken between us, as adults. He knew I loved him and I know he loved me and there was nothing to forgive. What triggered the unresolved beast within me today and the feeling as if stitches were being ripped out of a lingering but healing wound, was the question, “What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?” I thought about this. A lot. The Lonestar song has lyrics that say, “I’d unplug the telephone, I’d keep the t.v. off. I’d hold you every second, say a million ‘I love you’s’, that’s what I’d do with one more day with you.”

I have wished for that one more day. A chance to say good-bye, to ask where he was going, if he thought of me before he left, and to ask if we would be there together one day. I would have asked "why?" somebody needed to tell me why and I wanted the answer to come from him. But that isn’t ever going to ever happen to my satisfaction. I have tried to stop asking questions with no answers, because to do so is an exercise in futility and a fight I cannot win. I am not going to get that "good-bye" from him, but if I could have that day, what would I do? All the usual stuff comes to mind. I would tell him how much he taught me. I would ask him what his best memories were. I would ask him what to do with our Mother who will never be the same. I would want to tell him the things that people said and how much good he did. I would want to know if he had any idea how much he has been loved and still is. I hope he knows that, I think he does. I would tell him about the kids that have come into our family since he left. We often tell them stories about him and how much he loves them from heaven. He was really, really great with kids. I would ask him if there was someone else he would like to spend the day with. That is one thing I learned from him because he always thought of others first. That one more day should be about him, not me. And I would hug him. I would hug him until the cold, hard pockets around my heart were melted by his warmth. And then I would let him go. It would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do, but I would.

The last line of the “One More Day” song says: “but then again, I know what it would do….. it would keep me wishing still for one more day with you”. I think that now, after this amount of time I have learned some things about letting go. My brother is gone, it is what it is. Just like elementary school, or first love, like a bouquet of flowers that wilt or a favorite birthday party, everything ends. My time on earth with my brother ended and I have no right to interrupt the plan or design of the universe for my selfish desires. He has taught me as much since his death has he did when he was alive. I learned about no regrets and by that I do not mean to act like an ass and not care afterward. I mean to have really good relationships and to treat people very well. If a relationship is messy, clean it up and do it with love. Don’t let the sun go down between you and anyone else if there is unfinished business and get it right. And he taught me to let the events of life be what they will be.

My brother was a great artist, always sketching and drawing. He painted and sculpted. He also made us laugh and didn’t let us take ourselves too seriously. He drew lines between us to connect us and hold us together. He sculpted, molded and formed friendships, hearts, happiness and each day I look for the special picture he has painted for me in the sky, for one more day. He was a good musician and his essence still hums in our hearts. And finally he has taught me to let go of the longing for that “one more day”. His life was short but it was complete and it was a fine life, a good life, a happy life. I wish to have such a life, that my brother will keep teaching me and that I will keep on learning. Perhaps you have learned something from him today. And when you see a yellow rose, maybe you can make a promise to live life like my brother did. If you are blessed enough to have it, make use of your one more day.

I am going to read my book now, “For One More Day” by Mitch Albom. I will think of my brother and of that song but for once, I don’t think that I am going to cry.

About the Writer

icanluvulongtime is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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7 comments on The Yellow Rose, for one more day.

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By icanluvulongtime on November 12, 2007 at 08:16 pm
From the author, I made up my very own quote ..... "Live every day like it's your last day, and thank God that it isn't". Thank you all for your kind words.
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By Jen on November 13, 2007 at 02:15 pm
Really nice piece ICLULT...and as J&T said...completely unexpected given your previous work.
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By icanluvulongtime on November 13, 2007 at 05:45 pm
funny thing is Jen & Tonic and Jen, this is more my style of work than anything else I have written here, it really is more "me". The other stuff is total sarcasm/venting/ridiculous rib poking. It has been nice to have so many messages and comments and good reviews on something that came from my heart. Anonymous, what a nice thing to say.
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By crisdel on November 14, 2007 at 08:39 pm
Nothing beats 'from the heart' because that's where the healing starts and is the seat of originality. Your heart has genuine grief in it - and anger - and fear. You are human. You are emotionally expressive in all your writing, and that is beautiful.
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By Charles, Jr on November 14, 2007 at 11:34 pm
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By icanluvulongtime on December 06, 2007 at 09:10 am
Note from the author: You may be interested to know that the Oprah Winfrey movie of Mitch Albom's One More Day is scheduled for this Sunday, Dec. 9 on ABC at 9:00 p.m. Thank you everyone who commented and emailed regarding this piece. May God bless and heal you all from the wounds of the losses in your lives and may he grant you always one more wonderful day.
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By Alethea on February 08, 2009 at 06:55 am

I am very sorry for your loss.... your article was a very beautiful tribute.

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