Friday, October 9, 2009


Exactly 2 years ago Saturday, my oldest brother passed away.  I will never forget it because I was in my apartment in Winnipeg in the wee hours of the morning (something like 3:30 am there.)  I had been feeling sick in the middle of the night, taken too much advil (and discovered I am allergic to it) and finishing an almost fainting spell and throwing up.  Shortly after, the phone rang.

No call is ever good when it comes at 3:30 in the morning.  All I remember was the silence of the apartment and me standing there staring at the phone while it was ringing.  I knew I didn't want to walk to the phone; I just couldn't do it.  I couldn't pick it up, because then it would mean he was really gone.  It was one of my other brothers on the phone and there was probably only a few words said, like "Flav's gone" and then I just said, "OK" and hung up.

Sometimes there are moments when time freezes and everything around you stands still, as if you were on the outside of it all looking in. And the things you thought were so important in your own little world are a complete nothing, a zero in comparison.

I moved from BC to Winnipeg 2 summers ago and I remember being bummed because Flavio didn't come see me before we left.  No one ever really saw him much just because that was just the way he was.  There was so much of my life that he never knew. Him being 15 years older, I remember him teaching me how to ride a bike, sneaking me out of the house to take me to White Spot, taking me to the Zoo, Stanley Park, and the PNE.  Always wanting to know what I wanted to do with my life, living simply, and the only person in the world that truly didn't care what other people thought or said of him.  He was oh so funny in his quiet and sarcastic way and many say I look like him, even though I was blessed to somehow grow into a somewhat combination of all 3 brothers.

Not even 2 months after I moved away, I got the news that he was very sick.  I don't even remember if it was someone else that told me or if it was him in his very casual usual sort of way.  He never wanted anyone to know a thing and he wanted to protect us all, joking and laughing and talking as if nothing had changed and there was no hospital bed and tubes in the way.  It was just too big though at that point.

I will never forget the next call in only July (a month after I heard he was sick) to basically get out there as quick as I could to see him while he was still alive.  I always had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, even though there are many people that get dignosed with cancer and live quite a long time or even get it several times and live for years.   I remember being so stressed at work and overloaded with no one to train me and a huge project underway.  When that call came, everything else meant nothing; Ie just packed a suitcase and took off.  I didn't know what to expect, but I just knew that God would keep him alive till we got there.  I just knew.


I thank God I had the chance to see him in the hospital, at least for a short visit, but I wish I would have stayed much longer.  I felt so helpless, not being there after, as it just got harder very quickly for everyone. Looking back, I would have gladly endured job and home loss just to have been at his side more.  But I knew I had to leave eventually, plus I didn't know what to say; this now growup sister and this dying brother. None of us knew how to handle it though and it was hard to be faced with such a time shortage in our "reuniting" with a brother/son/uncle and all the mixed bag of emotions that came with it.  I felt like an outsider and so detached from everyone else as I had such a different (and shorter) history with him and such a big age gap.

I was upset that I never had alone time with him as there were always other people around and I never fought for it as I was too scared and didn't even known what to say.  He was a man of so few words anyhow.  At the same time, I could tell he was so happy that I was there just in the special looks he gave me and the way he would stop and stare at me, regardless of what was going on in the room.  On the last visit, it was so hard to leave because I knew I would never see him again.  How can you put all the love that your heart contains into a few words like, "Bye Flav, see you later..." I don't know how I managed to get on the plane back to Winnipeg and leave him there.

I tried to call him after I got back, but I even knew then that it was just not enough.  I was too scared and didn't know what to say and so I could not bring myself to call.  I wish I had called him everyday, but I cannot go back in time and he would not want me to either.  I had to deal with everything I felt and I know he (and God) understands.  It was a short 2 months later (4 months from when I found out he was sick) that I got the last call on that quiet October morning to say he was gone.  Again, when I flew out for the funeral and left to return to Winnipeg, it was hard to "leave him" behind.

That last trip was different.  I saw something different in our tiny family.  Through the sadness and grief, we all bonded together more than we had ever had need to do.  We had some silly times in the middle of it, that we can't really tell too many people as they would think we are crazy, and it made me love my dysfunctional family even more.  The only other time I felt it was when my nephew was born stillborn; at full term and the first big loss that I had gone through in our family (at least at an adult age.)  I cannnot even begin to imagine what a parent goes through as it must be a million times beyond what my heart has ever felt.  And I see in those parents an incredible strength that is out of this dimension.


Sometimes when people die, they tend to become idols in our minds like a god.  Maybe it's because we knew them but now they have attained eternal life, which we cannot wrap our minds around.  Maybe it is to honor them because we didn't when they were alive.  Maybe we can't let them go and want to keep them alive and close to us somehow.   Why is it so incredibly hard to part with an item they gave us or an item that belonged to them?  We just don't want them or our memories to fade into nothing, like their earthly bodies.

I have already talked alot in my blogs about my faith, heaven, and all that spiritual stuff, and there are many really good bible passages about resurrection that would make my blog another 8 pages.  My hope in this life is actually the next life.  I still give this life my all, but when it's your time to go, you can't do anything to change it.  Christianity is worth nothing to me if I don't believe I will see Flav, my other relatives, and loved ones.  Then there is also no point to following Jesus, going to church, reading the bible, or praying.

Was debating all week whether I should go to the cemetary (was there for the burial) as I am still out here.  I love the earthly place where his body is as my dear and much loved brother and respect it for that reason, but his soul is not there and it is just not the same.  Maybe next time.  I know that at least I've come along far enough to not feel like I am "leaving him" again and that feels good and freeing.

The songs below were some of the versions of the songs from the funeral as there was no way I wanted it to be a stranger playing slow dark gloomy depressing organ songs (not to knock organs as they have their place), but a beautiful memorial of old meets new, to celebrate his life and the life to come.

I Can Only Imagine:

I am the Bread of Life (I will Raise him up):

You are Mine:


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Maria. Blessings...


  2. Thank you for sharing the story of your brother, Maria. Your blog is wonderful. May God bless you.