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Tiny Daggers in Your Heart

A surreal milestone. My brother Tom was born 50 years ago today. He only lived to be 18. I miss him terribly. But I was by his side throughout his illness and decline. I stayed overnight in his hospital room before he died. I may have been in denial, but I was there with him. As of today, there have now been 216,000 recorded deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States. The actual number is likely even higher. I think of all the people who have lost loved ones this year. And how many weren’t even able to say goodbye in person because of the pandemic. Which we could have gotten under control with stricter lockdown measures. So much misery, trauma, and grief could have been prevented.

I’m not sure what my 1989 self would have made of life in 2020. Most recently, we lost guitar god Eddie Van Halen. Connections to my shared past with my brother are severed here and there as time marches on. I’m still estranged from our mother but I have been helping our father track down his birth family. And relations pop up left and right on services like Ancestry and 23 and Me. It’s fascinating and weird. DNA testing for consumers — humans and their dogs — was still science fiction in my brother’s lifetime. He died eight years before the movie Gattaca came out. But he loved science fiction as much as I do. I remember when he underwent painful oral surgery in the summer of 1986, graft some skin from the roof of his mouth onto his gums (how miserable). Directly after the procedure, our Dad took us straight to the theater to see Aliens. I can clearly remember so many details from the 80s yet have no idea what I did just last week. This is something my brother never got to experience. The strangeness of aging. I will have to forge ahead on his behalf, while I continue to keep his memory alive as long as I can.

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