Missed Opportunity

The thing about losing a sibling?

It sucks. And when I say it sucks, I mean, really. It sucks.

Regular readers know that my brother Tim died two years ago — completely unexpected and literally within a week of the birth of my daughter. (If you’re new, there’s plenty to read on this…if you choose).

So, why am I still having a hard time with Tim’s death?

Because, honestly, I’m having a hard time. A really hard time, actually. Harder than I ever thought possible.

I’ve (basically) come to terms with my Dad’s death — which will be 10 years in January. But, Tim?

Yeah. Not so much.

There is, actually, a lot of good connected to my daughter because of Tim. I do truly believe that. I’ve found some comfort in the fact that I actually believe Tim didn’t get sick for a reason until after Erin was born. It was like he could leave now that there was a ‘replacement’ on the scene. Not a replacement, per se, but hopefully you know what I mean.

The connection of her birthday to his death will always have me remembering Tim at that time. And I will always try to have the  memories be positive ones. But that’s hard.

I loved my brother. And I know he loved me.

But we weren’t close.

We got along fine. We were family. We did family stuff. But by ‘close’ I mean that we didn’t have a ton in common and we didn’t really do a lot of ‘just hanging out’ and doing stuff of common interest. We did all the family stuff and that was, well, fine.

Until now.

See, and I know I can’t change this, but one of the things that bugs the shit out of me is knowing that I don’t have the opportunity now to change any of that. That’s where my loss comes in. Not things that were, but things that could have been.

Let me digress for a minute…I have four cousins — three men (two of which are twins) and a woman. One of the twins has essentially removed himself from the family completely. Nobody really knows why and I find it very sad, actually, but at one level, it is what it is.

In talking to two of my cousins they were basically talking about their brother like he didn’t exist.

This infuriated me.

I said, look, you may not agree with why he’s pulled back or what he’s done or whatever, but you know what? He’s still your brother. And, the fact is, if you wanted to talk to him about stuff, you can do that. Me? I don’t have that chance. I can’t change anything now. It’s too late. If I have a conversation with Tim now, it’s pretty one sided!

I actually don’t think they fully understood what I was saying. Not that I was trying to play peacemaker, just that if they want the chance to talk, they have it. I,  however, don’t.

So that’s one of the things that really gets me. I should have made an effort to know Tim better than I did. Not that I didn’t know him, but you know what I mean. I should have made an effort to more ‘brotherly’ things, rather than just family things.

My brother Tom and I, for example, have bonded a bit recently because of a band we are both fond of. I’ve probably talked to Tom more about this band than I have about a lot of other things. We’ve gone to see the band twice, and we’re both looking forward to seeing the band again next week.

I haven’t talked about this with Tom, but he probably isn’t seeing this the same way I am. Maybe he is. I’m not sure. But I’m seeing it as opportunity. Opportunity to spend time with my brother in a non family focused situation. And, you know what, it’s kind of a good thing.

So then I get frustrated again — that I didn’t find this with Tim. Or that my desire to do so is coming much to late.

But, there is something I can do — and it’s another thing I’ve struggled with.

Tim has a son who is about to turn 16. I’m not quite sure why I haven’t done more with him in the last two years. I’m  not real proud of that, because I should be doing things — taking him to a concert or a game or something. Instead, it’s been limited to family function stuff, that’s it.

If the situation was reversed, I know that Tim would take Aidan fishing or on a boat or to a game — anything. That’s what he would do. And it’s what I should do with his son.

I’m not sure why I hesitate — and that bugs me almost even more than the simple fact that I haven’t done anything like that.

I mean, I’m sitting here bitching about losing my brother and having these missed opportunities. At least I got 35 years (plus) with him. His son got 14. And now, at a time where he needs a male presence, where he needs a father, I’m nothing but a lame uncle with great ideas that doesn’t follow through.

At least that’s what it feels like.

It shouldn’t be this hard. That’s what I don’t understand. Why is it hard for me to take that first step? It’s a step Tim would have taken two years ago if the situation was reversed.

Time? There’s plenty of time. Just make it.

I honestly don’t know what it is. I can tell you here that I will do a better job for my nephew. I will work to get us to a football game. I will take him to a concert. I will take him to the movies. I will do whatever.

Saying that is the easy part. Doing it, for some reason, is the hard part.

I missed opportunities with Tim.

I’m working on not missing opportunities with Tom.

I need to do the same for my nephew.


Because I know Tim would never be writing a blog about this in terms of doing things for Aidan.

That alone should motivate me.

I hope it does.

3 Comments on “Missed Opportunity”

  1. Carrie says:

    Losing family is never easy – expected or unexpected. Losing a Father is ‘the natural order of things” – not that we wouldn’t have wanted it to happen much later. But in some way, it helps to make some sense of it. Not a lot I know, but some.

    You can spend a lot of time doing the should of, would of, could ofs. It can, and as is clear in your entry, is something that eats you up inside.

    We cannot explain why. We will never know. Focus not on what did not or cannot happen now, but on the good memories. See your nephew and smile, look at Erin and smile, be with your family and smile. For in all those places and so many more things that spark a Tim memory, he is with you – moving forward and watching over you all. Smiling.

  2. Claudia says:

    I just found your blog – thanks to a link from Molly’s blog.

    I lost my brother seven years ago to a random act of violence, and your post echoed a lot of my thoughts over the past few years. He was 8 years older than me and when he died we had just gotten to a point where we were becoming friends as well as being just family (he was 30 and back in school for an MBA, and I was finishing up undergrad). I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about missed opportunities and What Would Have Been. My other brother (12 years older than me) and I have gotten much closer over the past seven years which is a silver lining to this miserable cloud — but I wouldn’t have recognized the significance of it if it weren’t Dan’s death.

    I’m glad I found this post – it got me thinking again – it’s so easy to end up on auto-pilot. Thanks.

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