Gratitude for the life of my brother, Richard A. Hammen, an out-of-town reader of the Messenger. Reader as long as his powers of comprehension were intact. Gratitude for the fact that he was the first person I told when Tesha M. Christensen had proposed to me that I write a column. It would appear in TMC Publications papers – the Messenger and Southwest Connector. Gratitude for the memory of his response that I should be writing. Writing like Stories and Journeys. He told me he believed I was born to write. He believed in me before I believed in my self. It was my brother, along with the likes of Amy Laederach and others observing that writing is me processing my life and sharing it with others.
AS I PROCESS MY BROTHER'S RAPID DECLINE – HIS DEATH AS PART OF HIS LIFE AND MINE
I am processing my brother's rapid decline and death as part of his life and mine. He died, according to my sister-in-law, at 8 p.m. Friday, July 8, 2022 at age 75. The reality of my own mortality is becoming more real. Before I die, he told me I could/should write a book. I have no clue as to how to write a book. I'm a column writer. If I could write a book I would call it, "The Life and Times of My Brother, Richard A. Hammen As Told By The People Whose Lives He Touched." It would be me taking the plunge into the river of life experiences with my brother. Me getting to know my brother again.
I intend to keep writing! I intend to keep honoring my brother as the possibility of my own demise becomes more real. From my own life experience, my brother, readers of Stories and Journeys, a message is coming through to me. It is thank you for writing! Keep writng! And when I ask myself the question when facing the reality of my own mortality, why am I still here? The answer is two words. KEEP WRITING! YOU ARE HERE TO WRITE!
YOU HAVE READ THIS FAR. ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO KEEP READING?
If you have read this far you have definitely taken the plunge into the river of life experiences which comprise Stories and Journeys. I'm hurting! I am broken! I feel lost! Are you still with me?
There are three things keeping me focused body, mind and spirit. One is responses from others, many of whom I know to be Stories and Journeys readers, as I let people know what has happened. I have lost my brother. Have you seen him? Oh, yes, he died or transitioned or passed away. Second, like I have done in the past, I am reaching out to a Behavioral Health Clinician with Fairview Health Services.He tells me that our society does not do grieving well. He assures me that what I am experiencing as deep grief is normal, and that, while it may take awhile, we will get through this together. I have his direct phone number in front of me as I write and another appointment coming up. Finally, writing Stories and Journeys is keeping me going.
What keeps you going when life throws you a punch in the gut causing you to feel like you are cascading out of control down the river of life experiences hoping you don't drown? Looking for a tree branch to grab to pull yourself ashore until you are ready to take the plunge again? Tell yourself, tell others or tell me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEVASTATION PILED ON TOP OF DEVASTATION. FRUSTRATION AND QUESTIONS.
What has happened feels like devastation piled on top of devastation. Everything happened so fast. There is no time for "quality of life" when you feel like you are barely treading water. First, my brother has cancer. Less than a month later, my brother is a hospice patient. Shortly there after, I am told "Your brother is transitioning" – which means actively dying. Within three days I learn that he has passed away. All within about one month.
I have a lot of unanswered questions about how my brother developed cancer and his treatment or lack of treatment. And there is my sense of frustration that I was never able simply TO BE with my brother before he died. My spine stenosis limits my ability to travel. It still seems so unreal. So many variables! So much to unpack in the months ahead.
For now. Light a candle and/or plant a tree and say my brother's name. Stay tuned.
Donald L. Hammen is a longtime south Minneapolis resident, and serves on the All Elders United for Justice steering committee.
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