Sunday, May 22, 2016

Remembering My brother Loren

My brother Loren died six years ago today, suddenly, of a heart attack, on his last hike along the Aucilla River in northwest Florida.  I was about as far away as I could be, in eastern Ukraine.  My sister Andy, who also lived in Tallahassee, had to bear the brunt of the shock alone; two nice policemen appeared at her door in the late afternoon of 22 May 2010, bearing the news.  She collapsed in disbelief.  I got a phone call early the next morning, and I collapsed too, in shock. The Peace Corps, thank goodness, I don't know how, got me out of Starobelsk, via a 22-hour overnight train from Lugansk to Kiev, and onto a flight from Kiev to Frankfurt to Atlanta to Tallahassee, the longest and saddest journey I have ever taken.  I was beside myself in grief, a grief that lingers to this day.

Loren believed there were no ends in nature, only beginnings. He wanted us to believe that and I've been trying, with limited success. I want to get a bear hug from him. I want to hear him tell me about his new beginning, if there really is such a thing.

Loren fought all his life to understand and grapple with "a problem that had no name."  He finally learned, when he was in his 50s, after many misses and mis-diagnoses, that he had Asperger's Sydrome; it brought some relief, as well as new meaning and purpose  to his life.  He wrote about it in his autobiography, An Asperger Journey: From Hell to Hope. We were so proud of him.  The book came out three months after his death, as a "memorial edition." It seemed so unfair that Loren was not with us to celebrate his story, to bathe in the accolades he so richly deserved.  Still, as some friends said, he would be glad the book helped so many others who live with their own Asperger journey.  

Loren, Andy and me in Amsterdam
Sometimes I think I hear him say, "Fran, it's okay. I'm okay." I get this feeling that he is above the fray, beyond pain and suffering, free to be one with nature, the Goddess, the angels of peace and justice.

But how I wish he were here, especially now, with all the stuff going on in our country and the world.  Loren would have been fully engaged in the politics and geopolitics of our time. I'm not quite sure where he would come down, but I'm sure he would rant against the incivility of the rhetoric, the jackels' attacks on President Obama, the anger and hatred being whipped up by extremists, the rising demagoguery.  The cult of Trump on the right, the cult of Bernie on the left, along with vicious Hillary bashing  in between, to the point this brilliant, compassionate, accomplished woman is unrecognizable.

Loren had a special perspective on life that, once I saw it and grasped it, I cherished. That's what I miss most of all. That's what I will always miss.
Loren with sister Andy in Athens, GA, on dear family friend Coe Coe's deck (he might also be with Loren somewhere).  It was a stop on a road trip up North to Rochester, New York, where we grew up.  Loren always considered Rochester "home." He loved the natural beauty, the indigenous culture of the Iriquois, and it's women's history.   Andy says over and over, "I'm so glad Loren and I took this trip together." They visited our beautIful house on 301 Landing Road South, too. Loren's wearing a t-shirt he bought in Costa Rica on a trip he and I took together. These trips mean so much now, sustain us. Loren was always an adventurer. It took him all day to travel from Tallahassee to St. Pete to visit me, because he stopped at nature reserves and parks along the way. 
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