A year ago today, the worst year of my life began.
A nephew called to tell us that my brother had apparently had a major heart attack. An hour or so later, he called again, to tell us that my brother—my only sibling, and, since the death of my parents in 2003 and 2005, the only survivor, besides me, of my nuclear family—had died.
He had just about finished building a “cabin”—really, it’s a beautiful lodge—up in the forests of northern Idaho, not too far from the Canadian border. His widow, my sister in law, has now moved up from California, and, having decided that she ought not to spend this anniversary alone, my wife and I have come up to visit her.
This is the blog entry that I began writing within minutes of hearing that my brother had died:
This is the newspaper column that I wrote in the wake of the news:
Not a day has passed during the past year without my missing him. Painfully. And it’s been a very rough year for other reasons, too. Some of them very public, some of them not.
“Hell is other people,” Jean-Paul Sartre famously wrote. I take his point. They can be. But true hell, it seems to me, is the irremediable absence of those we love.
Written north of Sandpoint, Idaho, on 23 March 2012.