Thursday, March 13, 2008

Remembering

Today is a rough one for me. It is the second anniversary of the day my little brother passed away. Ivan was amazing, frustrating, silly, talented, loving, generous, annoying--all of the things a baby brother should be. He was a Navy man, a Special Education assistant, an Animal Rescue Worker, an Artist, a Musician, and a variety of other jobs all before he turned 26.

He was working at an animal preserve as a volunteer on a hot Florida day. He came in for a cold beverage, passed out, and hit his head. Exactly what caused the accident was never quite clear; perhaps heat stroke or simple exhaustion. His brain swelled and he suffered from the after effects of a traumatic brain injury from that point on. He was never again without pain, without a ringing in his ears, without medication for seizures and other problems. He suffered from short term memory loss and could no longer live alone since he was apt to forget he was cooking and leave the stove going or forget if he took his medication and take too little or too much.

For the next few years, Ivan lived with my sister Lisa and with my mom and then with me. It was not easy for any of us. My sister and I both had small children to care for, husbands who had not signed on for extra family members, and all of the frustrations of our own lives to deal with--but we managed. While living with me, Ivan was able to take some art courses at one of the colleges I teach at and I know that it helped him if only for a bit.

His death was unexpected. Early after his accident, we were prepared to lose him almost every day, but that fades with time. He was managing, although not improving. New research into TBI issues were being heavily invested in by a variety of hospitals since so many soldiers were returning home with the same problems. There was hope. And then he was gone. And my heart was broken. The hardest part for me is that I cannot remember the last words I said to him. I know it was a phone call a couple of weeks before that day, but I cannot remember and I so wish I could.

I see Ivan every single day in the face of Zack. It is impossible not to as he looks so very much like him. Zack was only a baby when Ivan came to stay with us and Uncle Ivan was too much of a mouthful so he ended up with Cool-Cool. And it fit perfectly. He was just so very cool.

Here they are Ivan and Zack both at about the same age:


And here was one of Ivan from the last summer he was with us:



Thank you, friends, for all the love and support you gave me then and today. I cannot express how grateful I am to have friends who go the extra mile to make me feel like everything is going to be ok. I love you all. And, Ivan, I miss you.

12 comments:

Christa said...

Big hugs to you!!!

Spinkeeshy said...

*sniffle* my heart is with you and your family. *hugs and love my dear friend*

Jen Wuthrich said...

{Dora} I had no idea...Big hugs going out to you and your family.

Janneke Smit said...

much love and many hugs

Terry said...

much love and just a bit more ...

Ambearluv said...

I had no idea.... super big hugs and thoughts and love and everything going out to your family.

Boo said...

big hugs and comforting thoughts to you all

denean said...

Hugs Dora! and prayers for you and your family!

Nicole said...

aw Dora, my heart goes out to you and your family! hugs and kisses. tfs this with us!

Jenn said...

zack looks so much like Ivan! I know this day is especially hard and I'm sorry, chica. much love for you and your family.

Mireille said...

they look so much alike! Unbelieveble!
My thoughts were with you .. even in Germany!
Big big hug!

Lisa Peppers said...

I know this is a few days late, but kisses anyways hun!