Hello, Sorrow, My Old Friend

Any of you who have followed this blog for the past few years know of my struggles to deal with my troubled brother while I was taking care of my father. I finally had to drive my brother back to Colorado, which was the most horrifying trip of my life. He was out of control, and I wasn’t sure I would survive.

But we got there safely. After being stymied at finding a place for him to stay, I finally had to give up.

I still remember the last time I saw my brother. I was sitting at the wheel of a rental vehicle, and he was standing outside the window. He begged me to stay one more night, but I knew the next night he would beg, and then again, and I had to make a clean break.

We talked for a while, then he told me I shouldn’t drive far before getting a room, that he was worried about my falling asleep. This concern for me, the first he had shown in the fourteen months we were together, broke me. I started to cry. Then he told me several sights I should be sure to see, and I cried harder. “Do you think this is a fun trip for me?” I said. “It’s killing me. I don’t want to leave you here on the streets.”  He briefly touched my hand, and my tears poured down my face. He expressed surprise that I cared, and I explained that of course I cared. I’d spent the past fourteen months trying to keep him off the streets, which is why I’d lobbied for his camping out in the garage.

I reached out for my brother’s hand, needing that one final touch, but he turned and walked away, tears of his own in his eyes.

I cried all thousand miles back to my father’s house.

I knew I’d never see him again, so I thought I’d finished my grieving, but still. the news that he died last night has torn me apart.

Now I am crying again. All I can think of is that brilliant boy I so idolized, and the tortured man he turned into.

And I can’t help reflect that both brothers near to me in age, the one a year older, the one a year younger, are now gone. Both died way too young. It’s as if my childhood, such as it was, has died too.

Yeah. Sorrow.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

51 Responses to “Hello, Sorrow, My Old Friend”

  1. Wanda Hughes Says:

    I’m sorry dear friend. I know how much your dealings with your brother troubled you. No words can help but my heart is with your heart.

  2. SheilaDeeth Says:

    Oh, I am so so sorry.

  3. John Says:

    Suzanne and I will keep you in our prayer during this time of loss. May God bless you and often you up.

  4. Heather Foldessy Says:

    I am so very sorry to hear this news. Daniel told me today…. And I let my parents know. They immediately asked about you…. We are all thinking of you and sending you hugs and prayers.
    Much love,

  5. Janine Self Reid Says:

    This is tragic. I feel for you.

  6. LMH Says:

    Oh Pat I’m so sorry your brother passed and that on top of normal grief is the grief for a life that was so painful. Sending you hugs and strength as you process this new loss xx

  7. Deborah Owen Says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. Think of the good times and feel free to write any time. Love and prayers. Deb

  8. Tim Smith Says:

    So sorry for you loss. Stay strong.

  9. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    Oh, Pat, I’m so sorry! There is such heartache in the loss of a precious life, and your brother’s WAS precious, no matter how he lived it. I would like to say may you be able to separate out all the good memories to help carry you through this difficult time. BUT I think it might be the hard memories — the ones that made your life so stressful and made it so necessary to leave him to live his own way — that might be what eventually lead you to an acceptance of his passing. In any case, I will pray your heart is lifted out of its sorry.

  10. Deanna Chant Says:

    Omg I’m in total tears! I’m so sorry my dear friend, i think death just sucks! Maybe it’s time for us to walk again. It’s kinda hard with remodel but you let me know and i will try my hardest. Sending big hugs your way and now your brother is at peace.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m tired of people dying. Let’s wait a couple of week to go walking. I’m sick again so I need to get well, and maybe by then you’ll find time around the remodel. I sure could use a walk around the lake. And a hug.

  11. Jo Green Says:

    I so very sorrow you now have to deal with grief again. You were so right when you said that sorrow is an old friend. That is a friend I wish we had never had to meet. I am just a follower of your writings and blog and feel I know you. I hope you can find peace in your heart soon.

  12. Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective Says:

    Oh, Pat. I’m so sorry. Although I have lost no siblings and I have not walked the same path as you, I come with my own level of understanding and empathy of sorrow resulting from the death of those dearly loved. Just when I think one thing is behind me, a different version of the same sorrow or different entity entirely knocks me flat. Hugs to you on your journey.

  13. rami ungar the writer Says:

    My condolences on your loss. Please let me know if there’s anything i can do for you.

  14. Terry Jean Allard Says:

    Pat, I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. I have much compassion for the suffering you are now thrown into as the world yet again quakes beneath you. I had a younger brother who died in 2007 of alcoholism. He was a good person with an unrelenting destructive addiction whom I tried to help (as did other family members)but ultimately we couldn’t. It was complicated yet simple…part of him wanting life, love, relationships(complex) and part of him drinking to the point his body gave out(simple). I am forever grateful that Ron was with me to help me face all of it. I wish you had Jeff to hold you…so damn difficult…double doses of grief.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Damn difficult for sure. I am not as devastated as when I first heard the news, but I’m still sad. Thank you for your condolences. And for sharing your story. It helps.

  15. Jerry Dunn Says:

    I’ve known Tom ever since I was in grade school. Fred was in my class and I knew them both at the Denver Post paper station, your garage. I discovered Lost Park because of Tom and Fr. Borer, where we backpacked. I became a Denver Fireman and retired in 2007. I reconnected with Tom in 2000, through Paul Skeehan. I visited him at the cabin in Coal Creek Canyon a number of times, bringing food and bottled water. He was drinking rain water. When he broke his wrist he called me. I took him to a medical clinic in Evergreen but he walked out before they could set it. I went to Fred’s funeral and talked with your dad and siblings. My only brother died in 2010 and I saw Tom a few times after that. We had some interesting talks but I knew he had a troubled life. God rest his soul and l hope he’s at peace now. Jerry Dunn

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Jerry, thank you for telling me all this. I appreciate the help you offered him. Tom was so secretive, he never mentioned your name. I hope he’s at peace, now, too, and that he and Fred have somehow reconnected. You’re Marie’s brother? I was in her class in grade school. I’m sorry about your brother. Too many good people died in 2010.

      • Jerry Dunn Says:

        Yes, Marie was in your class. My brother Kevin was younger than Bruce, and born in 1956. You had a brother in his class. I remember your art shop, The Little Prince. I had some artwork there for a while. So did my wife Gina. Her brother, Billy Purnell, remembers working with you at the Fabric Store. We moved back in Park Hill in 1998. You are in my prayers, knowing how hard it is to lose a brother. Kevin could no longer face his cancer and ended his life. I think I’d like to read your book on grief. Peace be with you.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          How nice that you are back in Park Hill. That was always such a lovely area! It’s hard losing a brother or anyone, especially when they are so young, relatively speaking. Wishing you a long and peaceful life, and thanks again for the help you were able to give Tom.

  16. ansabhutta Says:

    Hello miss pat,

    It’s been so long since I’ve stalked your blog. It’s a kind of confession that I always get a warm feeling from reading what you have to say.

    I come today after so long and I read that you’re devastated by the loss of your adored brother. My condolences are with you. I kind of know how hard it might have been for you, especially a handful of the recent years. They might’ve been an emotional rollercoaster. A hard time, whose aesthetic, a handful would know of.

    But apart from those handful tough years, I guess you have rather lots and awesome memories with your siblings. I mean like it’s been such a long life until today, how many memories did you collect and how many do you even remember?

    I don’t wanna rant randomly about life lessons and how life is great and happy and you should be grateful. But you know what, sometimes I think, when I would pass on from this world to the other where there are other people like me as well, what would I brag about over a barrel of a beer? Like have I collected enough memories that would make me participate in a conversation? Have I collected most kind of experiences and knowledge? (I hope you get the idea to where actually I wanna lead you).

    I just turned 22 and to be honest with you, I’m not very hopeful from life myself. Like I want it to end real soon by itself. And meanwhile, I want to collect as much memories as I could so that I can look back, brag about stuff, laugh, dance and cry with the rest.

    In the end, I would say to you that preserve this aesthetic, look at it with a smile on your face and a tear in your eye. Stay strong! My prayers and good wishes are your way!

    (And how about trying to preserve your memories? It’s a good idea though tbh)

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you for the prayers and good wishes and all the advice. I hope you take your own advice and make a lot of memories. I doubt it feels like it to you, but from where I stand, it seems as if you are still so new to life, or at least adult life. Yes, make memories! Lots of memories. When Jeff died, it was the only way I could handle the sorrow — making new memories. Don’t worry about the end of life. Think of today and what good you can do (writing me was a good thing — it brought me comfort). Taking a walk or smiling at a stranger or reading or writing or dancing or anything actually, will all add to your memories. Wishing you a long and happy and memory-filled life.

      • ansabhutta Says:

        You know what it’s like, I have a vivid imagination (or as the way I put it often), half of the things and scenarios I’ve already imagined and lived the aesthetic. You can say I’m more or less afraid of stepping into the actual reality of it. I saw my grandmother’s breaths fading away – though I had visualised the moment lots of time (which might even sound sick) but i don’t know why, I just did. I broke when they took her away for the burial. I was happy, I was sad, I was satisfied, I felt lonely and devasted because 18 years is a time you know.

        It kinda feels hard clinging on to life with 0 motivation. But yeah I wanna make memories or take memories with me beyond. Because I wanna try being an expert at life there xD. And whatever the pit I’m currently in, I always try to bring people to the bright edge of life and often try to push them ahead. It’s because I believe this is what matters a lot than any other material object.

        Thank you for your kind words, they really made me so happy that you can’t imagine. A part of me is swooning over it right now and I will, for most of the day. 🙂 Thank you so much!

        (I hope I didn’t bother you with all of my wanna-be-a-philosopher-on-life kind of thing)

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          I can understand that a vivid imagination is a curse, especially since it doesn’t really help when the reality occurs. And no you didn’t bother me — I loved that you came here to philosophize about life. You say you have zero motivation for living, but you told me your motivation — you love to bring people to the bright edge of life. That’s a great thing! Better than my motivation was after my life mate/soul mate died. You want to know what kept me going? Curiosity. That was it. I wanted to know what I would become, what I could become. Yours is a much more admirable goal than mine.

          Feel free to stop by whenever you need a boost by boosting someone up. I truly appreciate our conversation tonight.

          Thank you.

  17. Constance Says:

    Death is so hard to accept.
    The evils of living with drugs and alcohol are hard to live with. This has been a big part of my life. It has been family members whom I have tried to help.
    Attempted Suicides from loved ones is so devastating. Just knowing when! Being there in time to stop it. Dealing with the situation, and living with it.
    Your health is being destroyed because you love them and don’t want anything to happen to them. Living with the health issues that you have from this, and can’t do a lot to change them. I have health issues from extreme stress that has done damage to my body.
    I live from day to day not knowing what is going to happen to me.

  18. Mimi Ray Says:

    My heart goes out to you, Pat.

  19. paulakaye Says:

    I remember when you were going through all those difficult times and I have often wondered about him. I am so sorry! Grief is never far away is it?? Take care Pat

  20. Mimi Lenox Says:

    Pat – I came here looking for a Dona nobis pacem post and began to read down through your wonderful blog again…to find this sad, sad news. I can’t imagine the sorrow and grief you must feel. My sincere sympathies.

    I also know that YOU are a voice in the darkness on this subject and your powerful voice counts. You know the subject well. Your writings are full of conviction and truth. Don’t let anyone sway you from writing down all that you feel and know. People NEED to learn how to deal with it, and most importantly, how to live with it. YOU are an excellent writer and teacher. I’m so glad to have “met” you via blogging.

    Again, my heartfelt sympathies.
    Love, Mimi

  21. Too Many Deaths | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] My older brother’s death affected me — and continues to affect me — so much more than I thought it would. (For someone who thinks she is as self aware as I think I am, my own reactions to death always manage to surprise me.) I thought I’d grieved the loss of my brother when I left him on the street in Colorado, but death is different. Irrevocable. And I am very conscious of his being gone. […]

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