One of the things I have yet to come to terms with is: what are the consequences of losing my brother? That is, what will be different now that he’s gone?

Obviously I am still grieving, and even still largely in shock. I wake up every day remembering him, disbelieving for a moment that he could possibly be gone. But my sense is that these feelings are short-term circumstances, not long-term consequences. The bottom line is that I don’t fully know what the loss entails for me and for everyone else who was close to him. In my case, I just have no doubt that my life will be different, not only now but always.

Today is Ken’s birthday. He would have been 32 years old. I probably would have texted him to say “Happy birthday, bro!”

And to be honest, that’s probably all I would have done. I might have sent a bottle of whiskey or a copy of a new book I liked, but in most years I usually just called or wrote. He was always better at birthdays and other holidays than me or anyone else in the family.

In the ten weeks since he’s been gone, one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s very hard to predict what will make me sad.

While I was traveling recently, I passed through Frankfurt on what was supposed to be a two-day stopover. I didn’t sleep well on the first night and went for an early-morning run along the water.

I’ve been to Frankfurt many times and have good memories of running there, especially when I was training for a marathon once long ago. This time, though, the run was fine but all of a sudden I started thinking about Ken and couldn’t stop feeling sad. It was a crushing, heavy kind of sadness that wouldn’t go away. I cried as I ran back and forth over the bridges, and I ran faster as if that would somehow help.

I’m not sure what set me off that morning. I’d never been to Frankfurt with Ken, and it wasn’t a special place for him and me in some other way. But I felt overwhelmed with the fact that, special or not, Ken would never be there. I felt panicked and went back to my hotel and then went straight to the airport, flying on to Doha, my next stop, a day early.

After the flight got underway I wasn’t sad anymore, at least not the crushing, heavy kind of feeling sad. And I don’t know why Frankfurt made me sad and Doha didn’t.

Maybe I’ll have more enlightenment about how this works in the months and years to come. For today, I’m thinking about him and wishing he was here. Happy birthday, bro.


Image: Daniel

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