It was my brother’s funeral yesterday, I gave the eulogy, with the help of a tranquiliser and my husband holding me up and steadying the paper on the pulpit as I spoke through my tears. I’m saving it here because for now, I’m still in the stage of my grief that I am afraid to let go of anything in case my memories start to fade. Maybe in time,I’ll delete this, we’ll see.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Sharon, I’m Colin’s older sister.
Colin and I had a complex and often complicated relationship, something I was looking forward to working on when I moved back to Cape Town in December and now, I’ll never get the chance, so instead, I’ll honour his memory here today.
We could fight like only siblings could. I’ve been hit in the mouth with a swing made of wood that was swung at my face. We’ve hit, kicked, smacked and punched each other. I caused the first set of stitches in his head. But don’t let the fights fool you. If someone messed with one of us, the other always had their back. My brother always came up for me and I for him. One of my earliest memories is of smacking a boy off a tricycle he had shoved my little brother off.
As a kid, he was the unluckiest, lucky kid you could ever have known. He was the kid that went on a hike up the mountain as part of a school outing, standing in the car park at the end of the day, a rock broke loose and bounced down the mountain, of all the heads in the car park that day, it was his head that it hit. He had stitches in his head more than any other person I know, his forehead had a habit of popping like a peach and requiring a stitch, whether it was from one of our rough and tumble games, a fall off a motorbike or just running into the corner of a coffee table.
His head that could pop like a peach, is also what caused my one and only black eye during a game of Blind Man’s Bluff in the dark one evening as kids.
He did everything with such intensity. He was the kid who was so excited for his first day of school, he forgot his school bag at home. He was the kid who bit a dog on the nose because the dog bit him first.
He had a great love of animals and a great sense of compassion for all living things, just ask my parents how many rescued strays he has bought home. His kindness was one of his greatest qualities and what so often got him into trouble – his desire to be kind and to help everyone. He was kind to a fault.
In recent years, he lived a quiet life for the most part, but it was also a lonely life, something I had hoped would change when we moved back to Cape Town. Uncle Colin would have two nieces, Ava & Hannah, who he loved to tease, and my husband and I to spend time with but now all of that is gone.
Something I learned in the past two weeks, something I think is one of the great tragedies of his passing, is that he never grasped how much he was loved. I listened to all the stories and memories that people, his friends, family, and colleagues have shared over the past two weeks and I realize, he had no idea how many people were influenced by him, learned from him, liked him, and loved him.
It’s unfathomable to me that he left for work on a Friday morning and will just never come back. But I have to believe that he has gone to a better place, that he is lighting ciggies for our granny & listening to the “wireless” with our grandpa, that he’s telling stupid jokes with his favorite uncle, and that he is looking out for my babies until one day when we will be reunited again.
As complicated as our relationship was, grieving him has been unbearable. Somebody said to me in the week that grief is love that has nowhere to go. And I loved my brother.
One of the last voice notes he sent, that I have saved and will treasure forever is him expressing love for me, even though he will be the first to say I was hard on him, he loved me. And I am thankful to know that. I just wish he knew how much I loved him.
I don’t think I even knew how much I loved him till it was too late to tell him.
Rest easy now my brother.