Brother's Gone

When Jonathan’s turn came, after many months of fight – but not nearly long enough – he was surrounded by more people than he would have been at all comfortable with. Some fourteen people packed in around a hospital bed. The day before, there was a parade of friends in requisite yellow gown and masks, babies and high school friends. Some who waved from the hall, afraid of the reality in that room. The perceived end of goodness.

I went home the night before he died because he was somehow stable. I had a baby to nurse and desperately needed the comfort of my husband’s chest.
Then, a call from Mark. This was it. How could I leave? He woke up panicking, asking for me.

When I got there, he was awake…conscious. He breathed, barely, a labor, “Love. You… Good Sister.”

Good sister. That is all. And that is everything. 

The boy who cried at school after taking on the bully, Bobby, on the playground. Bobby, who kicked me with his cowboy boots and sent me crying to the bathroom. To wash my face. (Why do adults always act like that makes things better?) When I went in he gave it to Bobby good. Legends were told about flips and punches. When I came out of the bathroom, it was Jon who was crying, unsure of what to do with such big feelings.

I am alone with him now – his body. The crowd left when the show was over. Some with pain. Some with a sense that their obligation had been met. Speaking of him in the past tense before he was quite cold. I was asked to be the last one. To stay. I keep looking up for a silver cord or a bright floating light.

I was his face, which does make me feel better this time. I notice the yellow creeping up. I pull the oxygen tube from his nose and jump when it hisses at me. I cut some of his curly dark hair – long ago strawberry blonde – for his girls, if I can ever part with it.

Mark rambles in, for once a comfort. He reassures me that Jon and I were a matched set. Irish Twins. No, closer than twins. He would not let me down, would try to be a better brother. Until his turn came. Alone and cold.


Richmond, VA

A Richmond writer, mother, wife, and sister, Jennifer Jurlando rarely has more than ten minutes to put heart to paper. She believes in the power of words to create meaning and legacy.

Jennifer will be leading a Life in 10 Minutes workshop on August 6. Please join her for Penning a Legacy:Finding Words, Creating Meaning, Honoring Loss