I wanted to thank you all for the outpouring of love and condolences. I’ve read each and every one of your messages and it was a great comfort the past few weeks.
Now that life has “normalized,” I’d like to give a little background information on what happened to my brother. He’d been out in Spain on business since Oct. 2015. He was supposed to come home March 11, 2016, but had to pull up his arrival date to Feb 28, 2016 due to a kidney stone issue. He was in a lot of pain and wished to be treated here. My husband and I last spoke to him the Friday, Feb 26, 2016, before the Sunday of his arrival. He had sent me his flight information and my husband and I believed all would be OK. The next day, I called him to see how he was feeling and couldn’t get a hold of him. Though I was worried, I figured he was sleeping and would call when he was about to take off. My parents, at this time, had no idea their son was headed home earlier than expected. We figured there was no need to have them worry about my brother’s health. In retrospect, I suppose that was a blessing in disguise. They were saved a few days of anguish.
Come Sunday, he didn’t show up at LAX. I went to check and found that he’d never boarded the flight. This was when I went into panic mode. Sunday night / Monday morning, I called the US Embassy in Spain and reported my brother missing. During this time, I worried about him, worried about how to explain to my parents that he’d gone missing, and hoped this would all end up with him home in the US. By Monday afternoon, my mother was freaking out because she hadn’t been able to reach her son whom she spoke with or texted on a daily basis.
Tuesday morning, I was on my way to our local police to file a missing persons report (this was necessary before the Spanish police would take action) when I received a call from the US Embassy. They’d recovered a rental car registered to my brother’s name and passport number. The Embassy asked for my permission to release his passport photo to the Spanish police. With trepidation, I’d consented. By now, I understood the inevitable end to this story. I had to tell my parents what had happened thus far.
I don’t know what was worse. Telling my parents that their son might be dead, or waiting for confirmation/denial that the passport photo was my brother. Being a parent myself, there could be nothing more horrific than losing your child. Whether at age five or thirty-seven, the pain is just as severe and truly never-ending.
After I’d told my parents about my brother’s car, it was a wait-and-see game. With Spain being nine hours ahead and their workdays ending about the time we began, it took at least twenty-four hours before any new information came our way. During this time, I dreaded every email and phone call. While my parents hoped, I knew my brother was gone.
Early Wednesday morning, I received a phone call asking if I’d identify the deceased body. The Spanish police didn’t want to make the match. Not able to look at the picture that came via email, I had my husband identify my brother. From here, I went on autopilot. My parents, emotionally and mentally, died with my brother. I had no idea how I was to comfort my parents, my family, and myself while making arrangements to repatriate my brother’s body and start funeral arrangements here. It was a lot of calling, emailing, and waiting on the Spanish system to release my brother’s body from the government morgue.
I hired a Spanish funeral home to retrieve the body, embalm it, and send him home to us. During this time, a judge needed to sign off on every step of this process. As you can imagine, everything ran in slow motion. The police took a while to determine the cause of death, though we have yet to receive a copy of their report. All we knew and still know was that it was a car accident. No other details have been released to us. We need to wait until the police send the report to the US Embassy and they, in turn, send it to us.
It took two weeks for my brother’s body to return home.During those two weeks, to my parents, my brother had died again and again. Only after he came home, we said our good-byes at the funeral, he was cremated, and his ashes came home to my parents’, did we feel as if we’d found closure. Of course, life will never be the same for any of us, especially my parents. I live in part-sadness because I miss my little brother, part-guilt because I still enjoy life with my own family, and part-resolution that the living must go on. Only if I can convey this resolution to my parents…
Having said all this, and seeing that there are senseless sadness all around us but life still moves on at the same pace, I will resume my imaginary life as I’ve resumed real life. Blogs will start up again on Monday. I will be in contact with you more often, hopefully with a smile. Thank you, again, for your prayers and good wishes.
PS: On an afterlife side note – my mother told me that she had a dream, the night or morning before she learned of my brother’s body being found. In this dream she was watching a boy drowning in a body of water. She watched the boy’s mother rush into the water but a giant snake had wrapped them up and taken them into the water. Behind her, some man spoke in a foreign language and told my mother that the mother and child were dead. In reality, the rental car and my brother’s body were found close to the ocean in Malaga, Spain. There’s a truly special connection between a mother and child.