Life goes on
“Life goes on, or so they say—but what will happen in another day?
You are gone, though your memory remains and I am left here with all this pain.
Everything would be fine, if you didn’t go. But life goes on or so I’m told.”
I wrote the above when I was 14 years old; a year or so after my then 19 year old brother Kenny died. There were more lines to it than that, but these are the only ones that remain in my memory. This was back in 1976, when we didn’t know as much about the grief process as we do now. If there were support groups to join or books to read, I certainly didn’t know about them. But even with it’s awkward rhymes and slightly off key meter, this poem resonates for me, even now, 38 years later.
Kenny’s death wasn’t the first death for me to come to terms with, he wasn’t even the youngest person I knew to die. There was a kid from the old neighborhood who got hit by a car on his way home from a basketball game one night. But Kenny, being my brother, was the closest relation I had to lose their life so young. He was 6 years older than me, always taller, always seemed wiser. I can’t say we were very close, the age difference was a deterrent to that; he saw me as his whiny brat of a little sister and I saw him as some one who liked to boss me around. To this day, even though I long ago surpassed his age, if I think of him (and occasionally I do), I always “picture” him as older than me.
It’s funny how life seems to have come full circle. I lost my brother to a rare and deadly form of bone cancer called Ewing Sarcoma; I lost my husband to a rare and deadly form of blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma. Both cases were discovered because of pain in the left thigh. A fairly large lump became noticeable in my brother’s case; it was misdiagnosed a couple of times, until finally the right doctor took the right tests and came up with the answer. When Bob complained of pain in the same place, I made him check for lumps but having found none, I breathed a sigh of relief. And like my brother, Bob’s doctor couldn’t pinpoint his problem. A simple blood test would have given the answers; but it wasn’t taken and we didn’t know to request it.
Whereas Kenny’s tumor grew on his bone; Bob’s tumors grew in his bone marrow—there was a real possibility that if one got big enough it could have broken his bone, but thankfully that never happened. Kenny’s cancer was aggressive and so was my husbands. Kenny was diagnosed in late 75 I believe, had his leg amputated in April of 76 and passed away in Sept of that same year. Bob was diagnosed in Jan 2011 and passed 18 months later.
Thankfully both gave their lives to the Lord before they passed away. So, though my brother was missing a leg here on earth, he’s walking on those streets of gold perfectly intact! And though my husband was in such horrible pain and couldn’t stand up straight, much less walk and definitely not run; the minute he went to heaven, all that was put to rights!
In the short 19 years of his life, my brother didn’t let much stop him; even after he got his leg amputated, he would hop on the other foot with one crutch (if that) to get around. His friends still talk about him to this day. That’s the kind of legacy I would want to leave! And as for Bob, he believed for healing right to the very end; but he was also not afraid to go, as he told several people in the weeks before June 16, 2012. But before that, you couldn’t keep him from working on his cars, doing his yardwork (which he loved) and puttering around with his carpentry projects. After the initial phase of grief let up; I too have embraced this need to enjoy life as much as possible—to laugh at least a couple of times a day and to appreciate all that God has blessed me with.
Life does go on, but it’s short. Don’t take the ones you love for granted, tell them often how you feel.