Last Sunday, I received a frantic phone call from my dad that my brother, Toney, was not breathing. I live next door to my parents where my brother was being cared for due to the aftermath of COVID on his body. I jumped out of bed and I opened the door I was greeted by police cars and emergency services. When I got into the house, it was chaos and the shrill of my mother’s voice. She had lost it and was inconsolable. Another one of my brothers was there on the scene. The paramedics worked on him, transported him to the hospital, but I knew he was already gone.
He is the oldest of six children. He is the funniest, also. Yesterday, we had his funeral and it was a beautiful Home Going Celebration of his life. He, along with my next to the oldest brother weren’t always the men they became. In their youth, they were wild and out of control. They gave my mom and dad plenty of woes. But, eventually, years later, they both came to Christ and changed their lives. They both became the best versions of themselves and spent their lives making it up to all by being the best sons, brothers, relatives and parents they could be.
My oldest brother lit up any room he walked into. He always had jokes. He gave everyone a nickname. He would say things at the most inappropriate time and that is what would make it so funny. Even when he wasn’t the best version of himself, in the earlier years, he still was a devoted brother that would protect his siblings and care for us. My favorite memory is walking about 3 miles home from school in the rain, a cold day, or a snowy day with my youngest brother and when we would get to the driveway, Toney would come out and greet us saying, “Come on in this house and get you something to eat,” He would have made soup, chili, grilled cheese or something he called “goulash”. We were always happy to see him on those days.
This Sunday morning is calm and beautiful. Last Sunday was chaotic, sad, yet it felt so good outside. I sat out and had coffee. He loved coffee, too. In fact, I gave him my old coffee maker that is at his home now. He passed away in the midst of having his second cup. Even in his sickness, he joked and laughed on his good days. On his bad days, he still managed to smile or to say something silly. He would apologize to the parents the next day if his behavior was not the best the day before.
Covid really did a number on him and exasperated his many underlying conditions. He was managing those conditions before Covid as he was a busy body. He could not be still. He was always doing something. Including being my yard man and maintenance man. I expected that to continue as I moved into my new home. He even said so himself. He use to do contract and construction work. He was a Veteran.
I haven’t really been able to grieve. Even after yesterday, it still just seems so unreal. I have never lost a sibling. I don’t know how to feel about it. Hurt. At peace that he is at peace. I understand death to be the doorway to the spiritual realm and I don’t believe he is LOST or DEAD or NO MORE. I just believe he exist in a different form and that yes, the body is dead. I can communicate with him like I communicate with Spirit. I can recall the many ways he brought us joy and laughter. The way he showed his love and his overprotectiveness. He was supportive. He showed up to church and showed up when you needed help at your home. I choose to cherish the joy and to feel what needs to be felt as I grapple with this huge change in my life.