My brother Danny was one of a kind. He was a Gemini. Yeah, that sounds silly but to me, someone who delights in things of that nature, it was a sign of the singular type of human being my brother was.
Danny was born third in a line of seven men. I am the youngest.
Before Danny died a strange thing happened, he told us all he loved us. It was almost as though he knew, though, after reviewing his death in my mind over and over again I have come to the conclusion that he couldn't have known or he wouldn't have allowed another passenger on his spanking new motorcycle.
I was supposed to have ridden with him.
The last thing I remember was seeing his beautiful face smiling at me, wearing my new member's only jacket, as Marky got on the back, Danny saying to me: "Don't worry, David, you're next." The next thing I remember was a neighbor, the older sister of Marky, frantically coming up the side gate and asking if we had heard that there has been an accident. Apparently Danny was fine but Marky was injured.
The long and short of it was the opposite. Danny had been killed in an accident. The story is to this day still unclear; Marky hasn't spoken much of the incident. He did survive. But as I understand, he was driving too fast, lost control and was flung from the bike, and died instantly.
The details of the death are unimportant. What followed was naturally, grief, horror, arrangements, strangeness, and unfamiliarity.
I was the one who went to the hospital and saw Marky, laying on a gurney, his other sister at my side. We had driven there together in her car. Upon seeing Marky his sister cried. His nose was damaged and the nurse was confused as to if it was broken or not. It wasn't but seeing as Marky has always had a large nose it was a humorous moment in a tragic instance. Funny how things like that happen.
Marky's sister inquired about Danny and he looked at me and said: "I'm sorry, bro, he's gone."
Immediately Marky's sister burst into hysterical cries of sorrow, while I, strangely, had only one thought: "How am I going to tell mom?"
I didn't have to.
Upon arriving home the police were already at the house, neighbors had gathered and upon entering the front door, my mother was seated on the couch, quietly sobbing, proud, but grieving, as a young neighbor friend was angrily punching and screaming about the living room. He had loved Danny very much. As many people did.
Danny was unique. He loved everything. He loved fixing things, after having taken them apart. He was the first one I remembered laughing at my mother, lovingly, when she tried to discipline him when he had gotten to big - only to find herself laughing at the situation along with him. It was the moment I knew we were truly loved. And that there was a different way of being.
Danny was a gymnast. He taught gymnastics and his team loved him very much. There was a person in his life when he died to whom I had to break the news. It was sad. After telling him of the death, by phone, I heard nothing, then a click. I still have never heard back from him.
That was more than 20 years ago. He has now been deceased longer than he was alive. I was 17 years old. He was my older brother. I loved him very much and I am grateful for his openness. It was his graciousness in life that I feel is the inspiration for the remaining six having become better men. I believe that his death was a gift.
Prior to his death, we were seven, very loving, but very proud men. My mother is a remarkable and proud woman. My father lived outside of the house. The divorce happened long before my memory. I do not remember ever hearing the words I love you growing up - not that I didn't feel loved. It just wasn't that type of family.
As I said, the weeks before Danny's death, he pulled me (as well as the others) aside and looked me straight in the face and said, "I love you, David." It was shocking. Wonderful and strange. Odd. Awkward, but remarkable. It made an indelible impression on me. Soon after he was gone.
The funny thing about it all was, it was as though before Danny died he knew he was going to go. It is my belief that this is not the end. The world is not this. Or more to the point, there is more than just this world. I believe that we are forever. It is this belief that allows me to not feel hurried and in need of doing or making something happen for fear that my time is short. Danny was very spiritual. He believed in a god. I believe in God. But I also believe that we are some aspect of god. And that we do not die. Not really. What happened to Danny in my belief, as happens to all of us, is that we return, to the source, to the everything, to God. Or whatever is all that there is. Love. I believe that Danny has returned to love and in doing so knew that he would, in some deep place in the truth of who we all are, who he is and was, be helping all of us by sacrificing himself. I believe that Danny's death was not an accident but a choice, made by him somewhere before, to be a lamb for we lions. I believe that he gave us our lives and was and is that bridge to the better people we have all become.
Danny lived for us. He died for us. He also enjoyed his life. I enjoy my life and always think of him and what he did for us.
I find that this is a better way of looking at it. It works for me. It makes me feel that he was a hero, not a victim.
I love you brother.