A death in the family: Part II

As I previously noted, my brother Brendan died on Wednesday. He was 49 years old. His obituary is here.

A few more details have been released about the accident. He was alone so we can only postulate what must have happened. I’m not sure how long it was before someone found him, but by then he had already passed.

When Dad called me and said it was an auger accident, I didn’t really know what an auger was so I Googled it. When I saw pictures of them, I winced. It sounds like it must have been absolutely ghastly. I can only hope it happened very quickly and he didn’t suffer.

Visitation is tomorrow. Michael and I are going together. He’s only met Brendan twice, most recently at Christmas last year.

My family used to be very unkind to Michael. It was the age difference; they thought it was wrong for him to date me when I was so much younger. Some of them said a lot of nasty things about him, and pretty much everything he did they automatically read in the worst possible light.

I can understand their feelings; I was only 16 years old and Michael was 27, and a lot of people would have a problem with that. (I want to emphasize that Michael wasn’t in the habit of dating significantly younger people, and that our relationship was and has always been legal. We met in college; I was getting my high school education there and he was working on another bachelor’s degree.)

But the fact that I understood my family’s feelings didn’t mean their comments and actions hurt any less. Years passed, and my mother and siblings came to realize Michael really loved me and was good for me. But for the longest time he didn’t want anything to do with them.

Last Christmas, though, he decided to “bury the hatchet” and go to my family’s celebration, and everyone got on splendidly. I’m glad he went, the more so because he and Brendan got to have some positive interaction between each other before it was too late.

Michael’s parents plan to go to the visitation also, out of respect for me. The funeral is Monday. Michael has to work so he can’t go to that. I’ll go, of course. Break out the Special Occasion Shoes, the only heels I own. Brendan will be buried next to his son.

Frankly, I feel like a bystander in all of this. Like I said before, Brendan and I weren’t close. Actually, that’s an understatement; we barely had a relationship at all. We were a generation apart, hadn’t lived together since I was an infant, and had nothing in common.

So I don’t feel so much grief as commiseration for everyone else: my siblings who were closer to him than I was — he and Colin in particular were best buds — and our parents, and his children, and his wife.

I don’t think it’s really hit my parents yet. My mom says she still expects Brendan to call her any minute and regale her with the tale of his accident with the auger which he miraculously survived without serious injury.

Dad and I talked today and he said this is a much different experience from when my brother Brian died in 1988. Brian’s death, he said, was “dramatic” and a bit drawn-out: the car accident, hooked up to life support while everyone waited for news with baited breath and prayed for a miracle, the doctors declaring him brain-dead, and then turning off the machines and donating his organs. Afterwards, the organ donation folks invited Mom and Dad to meet the people who had received Brian’s corneas and kidneys, and my parents thought it over and said no.

Brendan, on the other hand, was just gone. I mean, he probably woke up in the morning and packed¬†his lunch and went to work, thinking afterwards maybe he’d have a few beers and then maybe take the kids to see Black Panther, and then he was gone.

My family has survived the death of a son and brother once before, and I am convinced we can do so again. We’re strong. Things are shaken up and eventually they will settle into a new kind of normal.

8 thoughts on “A death in the family: Part II

  1. marsyao February 18, 2018 / 12:49 am

    Meaghan, my deep condolences, lost a family member is hard, even you and your brother was not close, wish everything in your life will be better

  2. loislaynethink February 18, 2018 / 3:00 am

    So very sorry for your and the familes loss.

  3. Kat February 18, 2018 / 9:03 am

    So sorry for your loss, thoughts to you and your family. You are right, you all are very strong. I saw you called last night, I have five ten year old boys over for an extended sleepover weekend so I’ll try to get back to you this week sometime. I don’t know what I was thinking! I couldn’t even hear myself think!

  4. christie February 18, 2018 / 11:14 am

    Sorry Meaghan, he must have been checking the blade it must have got jammed, I don’t even know what happened but yes ghastly. Glad Michael is going with you. He sounds like a good man.

    • Meaghan February 18, 2018 / 1:09 pm

      It sounds like what happened was a result of his own carelessness. As far as they can tell, the truck was dumping salt into the auger and it stopped moving so he climbed on top of the pile and stomped on it or whatever to get it going again, and it collapsed.

      He’d probably done the same thing a hundred times before with no incident but all it takes is once. I’m pretty sure safety procedures say you should never do that while the auger is running.

  5. Cheryl February 19, 2018 / 1:32 pm

    Hey Meaghan. I don’t visit this website as often as I use to but I just happened to pop in today to read some of your Blog. I’m really sorry about to hear about your brother. I won’t toss out the standard, “sorry for your loss” or “thoughts and prayers,” thing, but I didn’t want to bypass this post and not say something. As disconnected as you feel from the whole situation, you are still his family. I’m glad Michael and his parents are there to support you. Hugs Girl.

  6. Cattt February 21, 2018 / 9:12 am

    I know I’m late, but I’m so sorry to hear about your brother’s death. I had to Google auger too to see what it was. Im so glad that Brendan was able to finally get along with Michael before his passing. I had no idea you had a brother that died previous. So heartbroken for you guys. My deepest condolences to you and your family, Meaghan.

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