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Lean On Me

On Easter Saturday my brother in law passed away. He had a motorbike accident on a farm outside Dubbo.

My father called me that afternoon about two hours after the accident. He told me to sit down and gave me the news. All I could say was ‘oh’. No tears or anger. When I hung up I simply told Luke that my brother in law has gone to be with Jesus.

My baby sister is a widow? What?

Luke later told me that he worked out that my brother in law died while Luke and I were rehearsing the song ‘Lean On Me’. Soon I would have have to take on such a role.

The next morning I was on a plane to Dubbo (thanks to a dear friend who paid the ticket, I couldn’t afford to fly) It was my first flight on my own. The plane was smaller than the others I had been on so I felt the ups and downs more than usual, but no dramas. I was anxious enough to ask a flight attendant to show me how to put the seatbelt on. I had put it on myself before on other flights but this time around I just couldn’t figure it out. But I didn’t panic – not outwardly anyway. My fine motor skills suck at the best of times. In this situation – epic fail.

During the flight I was getting myself emotionally ready for lots of tears and hugging. I thought I would need to be there for my sister for any hugging needs. When I landed and met mum and dad of course I experienced what I expected, tears and hugs.

My sister though was strong. For most of the two week period we were together there was more laughter than tears. I hugged her a couple of times when needed but I felt it came across as awkward. My sister knows I have never been a big hugger and I don’t show love that way if I can help it. My sister had lots of friends and family around her to do the hugging so I backed off and did other things to help like clean the house or arrange photos.

It amazed me that a number of family members came to me to tell me that I was a ‘strong tower’ for my sister. It didn’t seem to matter that I didn’t do lots of hugging and crying or made any meals (I was smart enough not to attempt cooking for her, I let the experts take care of that). But I did what I could which was be there. My husband and I sacrificed income to be there for family. That’s what family does. Being there was enough. Everyone grieves differently. I would say and do random silly things that made my sister laugh. That was what I could do. I worked with my strengths so I could be the tower for my sister to lean on when I needed to be. Well I tried anyway.

I did cry. I’m not a machine. When I found a quiet moment (which was rare) I would sit and write. Once I could sit and be alone with my thoughts that’s when the tears came. I loved my brother in law. He was a bit silly and lots of fun to be around. He was always good for a laugh. I will miss him.

Life will start to get back to normal now that we have said our final goodbyes. This will be the hardest part for my sister. There may be a few times during the year when I will have to change plans a little to be with family or make a phone call. Life is uncomfortable, it’s about time I got used to it. It’s also short and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Keep on loving each other,


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