I spent the past four days on the Cape with all of my siblings, spouses, children, cousins, aunts and friends to celebrate my beautiful, brave, funny, sensitive and caring brother Mark.
I am the oldest of eight children, six boys and two girls. Mark was brother number four, child number five.
All of us love to tell stories, share stories, tell more stories and laugh everywhere in between. Because there are so many of us, quiet is not a word normally associated with the Hakala family. But all of those words, hugs, tears, and laughs were balm to all of our hearts as we mourned our missing brother.
At one point on Thursday, I was getting flowers for our celebration of Mark’s life from all of us siblings. I had a moment of extreme fuzziness when I got to the florist’s. I felt unbalanced, as if the world around me was not real.
Then the clerk asked how she could help and I blurted out “I need flowers. My brother just died.”
She murmured condolences and then helped me put together a bouquet. She asked how old my brother was.
“Fifty-seven,” I said.
“Heart attack?” she asked.
“I lost my brother at 49,” she said. “Heart attack.”
“How long did it take before you didn’t feel like you’d been kicked in the stomach?” I asked.
She looked at me sadly and said, “A very long time.”
So today is the first day of a very long time.
We’re all OK and will be OK. But…