The last time I saw my brother alive, he was with his family, and they were packing up their SUV to return to Texas after a trip to Arizona that was much too short. It was also much too fun, I can smile and say.
I wanted to take a photograph with him, just Andy and me. But I didn't. That would seem morbid, I thought, and Andy was never one for big dramatic gestures or protracted goodbyes.
When I was out by the SUV, hugging the kids, hugging Katie, my brother sort of tapped me on the shoulder, and I think that he wanted to hug me, too. I didn't think that I could handle that, as my cheeks were already wet with tears, and I knew how much it upset Andy to see his sisters cry. So I just sort of grabbed his fingers, which were resting on my shoulder, and squeezed them.
Why didn't I hug him? Why didn't I take that photo with him? I didn't want to seem morbid, that's why. I didn't want it to seem all dramatic: here's a hug and a photo to remember you by, in case you don't come back.
Except that he is never coming back, unless you count his casket. Why didn't I take that photo? Why didn't I hug my brother? It turns out that it would have been the prudent things to do. He's never coming back. He's dead. And I would give anything, anything at all in the world, to be able to hug my baby brother right now, to take his photograph.
Copyright 2007, Laura Linger