My Brothers Death Saved the Life of My Wife

Social Work practitioners are drilled in the concept of process. A way of observing and analyzing behavioral changes and events as an ongoing progression rather then a series of discrete happenings. A learning relevant to how my brothers death saved my wife’s life.
I loved my brother and respected and admired him for his caring family ways, professional expertise, musical talents and fun loving nature. But we were temperamentally very different and coupled with his passive aggressive tendencies which he seemed to reserve for me, our relationship was at times strained. An explanation for this uneasiness lay in the way we grew up. I was the older brother of three boys, Jerry was the middle son who I think was in competition with me for our mothers love. Also we were very close to our age related cousins with whom we spent most of our time, given the fact that two bothers and a sister married two sisters and, a brother and the men in the resulting three families worked together and live near each other. My younger brother and I had sibling like relationships with two cousins but Jerry did not, which meant that in addition to struggling with feeling excluded by virtue being the middle child, he also missed out on my support as an older brother. A situation I’m sure he resented. In any case, most of the time we enjoyed each others company at family functions. For the last fifteen years of his life, Jerry struggled with a fairly aggressive form of prostrate cancer, which as I wrote in my recently published book, he handled with an amazing quite courage.

“Death and My Brother The Hero”

Dying looks bad and scary but it often comes with a loss of consciousness that sneaks in.
Its a coward that takes life without giving anything back
It even erases the fact that you ever existed, after all who knew you end
Its only virtue being that it is an equal opportunity provider
My brother faced down the usurper for fifteen years after the diagnosis
And he did it in the only way any body could have even a partial victory over such a powerful oppressor
He refused to spend any of his precious time with fear or preoccupation with the outcome
Thus robbing the gutless despot of the foreboding, angst, horror and dread, the tools it uses to hold sway over us
Hurray for you, my brave brother you set the standard on how to fight back against the mighty, craven, authoritarian persecutor
And you did it without anger, objection or even disapproval
An example I will find hard to follow

I sent this poem to my other brother Abbe and Jerry’s wife and children
This was Abbé ‘s response

“You are right Julie. Jerry did set the standard for facing death. He looked the prick right in the eyes and said you don’t scare me.”

After Jerry’s death although I attended the funeral and sat Siva and with his wife and children, I failed to feel the sorrow of his loss. For whatever the reason I could not grieve. My feelings remained passively locked in my body like a lump of food stuck in my digestive track, that I couldn’t throw up. About a month after the funeral, right before leaving for our seven month stay in Florida I noticed that portions of my skin were turning albino white and crusty, a condition that day by day was getting worse. Immediately upon arriving in Florida Barbara and I visited a Dermatologist, Dr. Ira Schlesinger who named the spreading skin disturbance Psoriasis and gave me a cream to help contain it. Dr Schlesinger explained that Psoriasis was an auto immune disease with little research concerning its origins. A fact that led me to the realization that since I could not cry about the loss of my brother my skin was doing it for me. An idea consistent with my belief in the little understood relationship between mind and body as a cause of illness. I will never know if it was the cream the doctor prescribed or my emotional realization and awareness, but in combination my symptoms started receding. As part of my visit I was given a complete body scan in search of suspicious and potential life threatening skin eruptions. At one point in the examination, while zapping the less dangerous blemishes, dr. Schlesinger found a spot on my shoulder that he sent for testing and I was called back to have it removed. At that visit he explained that the irregular cells that the spot on my shoulder represented, was not yet dangerous, but should be removed as a precaution. Barbara was now very impressed with the competence and thoroughness that dr. Schlesinger displayed and decided to consult him for a fungal patch that periodically appeared on her ankle and that no doctor had yet been able to cure. At that visit as part of dr Schlesinger’s normal procedure Barbara underwent a full body scan and like me had a suspicious scraping was sent to the laboratory. When she showed me the minuscule dot on her arm that dr Schlesinger felt was the offender I voiced my incredulity and even went so far as to imply that he was exaggerating the severity as a way charging for unnecessary visits. Then the test came back and we were shocked to learn that the seemingly inconsequential mark on her arm could have in short order turned into a deadly melanoma. Dr. Schlesinger was rightly proud and joyful to have found and destroyed such a small yet potentially carcinogenic and virulent stain and we were happy we had the sense to trust him.

“Patterns and Process”
My brother dies and I cannot grieve
But my skin can
Its a sickness born of emotional repression
Easily cured by self awareness, medical expertise and pharmaceutical applications
The love of my life impressed with my healing, engages
And avoids an immanent attack by the ugly craven degenerate angel
Is there some plan for each of us in the universe ?
Was it a coincidence?
Examine the message of the process
Is there always a massage if we examine the pattern
I don’t know but
I once did have a second in which I did