Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sibling Loss, My Daughter Remembers Her Brother

The following essay was written by my daughter P, four years ago when she was 12 years old. I am inspired to post it here after she showed me a self-portrait that she took of herself last night, the one pictured above here. Loss early in life really imbues you with a sense of wisdom far beyond your years. It also puts into your heart a sense of sadness that will forever be there. Re-reading this again today I was struck at how vivid the images of our experiences as a family really stuck to head. P knew loss at the tender age of seven when we lost Migi in 1998. A child's grief is cyclical in the sense that it appears at every point in the various developmental stages. Perhaps now as a teen-ager her way of working it out is through photography. Perhaps it also had to do with her coming from a retreat that put her in a reflective mood. She called the photograph above "Seeking Migi For Inspiration" as she journaled her thoughts away. Below is P's essay which hangs in frame over my work table.

"All I Needed To Learn In Life... I Learned From My Younger Brothers"

Being an ate is hard work.

I should know, I was born into a family with two younger brothers. Older sisters often regard their younger siblings as pests, annoyances or simply those little brothers that you want to bite when you're "naiinis" or frustrated. Being an ate myself I won't deny the fact that yes, my brothers can frustrate me sometimes. They too can be a total monster. But I don't focus on that. When they make me mad, I just remember all the good times we've had together, the lessons they've taught me and the lessons they are still teaching me as the days pass. I've learned everything I need to know from them and they've taught me in the most unique ways.

My first younger brother Migi was born three years after me in 1994. He was born with a heart disease called Tetralogy of Fallot. Living with a brother with a disease taught me that I should accept people's diseases or differences. I understood that some people are just born with special needs or differences and that I should learn to respect them. I remember that he taught me how to share. We used to share everything! We shared books, toys, and even the same room. Most importantly we were able to share the advantage of being blessed to be raised by great parents, together.

Another important virtue that I learned from him was to be patient. As a child I remember some days when we would play and he would get too tired, his lips would turn blue, he'd turn pale and he would have to be placed in front of an air conditioner or an electric fan while being rocked back and forth by our mom. I never really complained when this happened, I understood that I had to be patient and wait until he was all right again. I realized that my baby brother had special needs. Until today, even if I know that God has called him home, I will never forget my Migi, the brother I had who taught me so much, without realizing he did. He is always on my mind.

Then came Leon. He came into mylife just three months after Migi became an angel. Leon seemed just somuch like a sign of Migi saying "Ate you've got to move on now." Now, I am old enough to understand that God had to take my Migi but he also sent me little Leon to help me move on, keep living my life. So much like the saying, "When God closes a door, he opens a window." I totally dote on Leon. He is now a happy and robust 5 year old who teaches me more lessons and reminds me of those little values and good doings I tend to forget. He's got just about the greatest concience. He is the first one to reprimand me if I do something wrong. And when I've made a mistake, he always tells me that it's okay to lose and that I can just try again. He really does! He also reminds me of even the most unique of things, especially not t o have a boyfriend yet! He says his reason is that when I'd get one, his heart would hurt. Leon is very intelligent for his age and really takes whatever he learns in school very seriously. Especially those good things they tell you that you should do in kindergarten. Lately he has been reminding me that I should always eat fruits and vegetabled. He is ever so sweet and has so much compassion for others. The other day he told me, "Ate this Christmas we've got to help poor people." Leon really doesn't realize how much he teaches others just by being his usual perky 5-year old self.

A lot of people have commented that I'm a "goody-goody". I really don't mind being called such because it makes me realize that I have been blessed to have grown up in such a stable family. My family is supportive and very willing to accept me for who I am. They have created who I am today. My brothers have been my biggest inspiration throughout my grade school years and I really haven't been through an English teacher yet who doesn't know about my brothers. This is the first time though that I've written about how much they really mean to me. Through this, I want to thank them, Migi up in heaven who I know may even have been with me the whole time I wrote this, and sweet Leon who is my remaining little boy. I just want them to someday know how much they mean to me. I want just the best for them. But no matter what happens, whether they find out or not and whatever may happen during our lives, my brothers will always be the world to me.

P.B. G. December 10, 2003