Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Brotherly Love

I have six brothers and eight brother in-laws; I’m practically an expert on brothers. A brother’s love is very powerful; I think it has something to do with all that testosterone flying around.  One minute they’re pummeling each other to death; the next they’re hugging each other, remembering the good old days.  Perhaps it has to do with surviving their rough and tumble childhood together; they were wild hellions

The Roszel boys have a fierce love between them.  The family bond is intense.  My family is demonstrative.  Rick’s family is big on the feelings, not so much on the showing or talking about it without a few beers in them.  Every time my brother, Mike sees my brother in-law, Steve, Steve will give him a bear hug but he tells Mike, “no kissing”! One day, he startled Steve by kissing him and Steve has never really recovered from it. In our family, men show their feelings and brothers kiss brothers; we’re lovey-dovey. The Roszels are not.

Rick’s hair began falling out a few days after we came home from the hospital.  He was bald at 21 but losing all his hair to chemo was a different experience.  There was something so degrading about losing his hair to chemo.  First there were a few hairs on his pillowcase and then they started coming out in full force.  Chemo knows no mercy; it punches you in the gut and then demoralizes you further by taking every shred of hair on your body.  We shaved his head before it could take his dignity too.

When his brother, Paul came the next morning, he walked up the sidewalk carrying the Washington Post for Rick like he did every morning.  We looked up to see that Paul had shaved off all of his hair; he was completely bald.  “It’s a sign of my solidarity,” he said.  Rick smiled and started joking with him.  I was so moved and I knew how much it meant to Rick.

While all of this was happening around me, I was reminded again that we were all suffering through this.  Steve, Suzy, Peter, Paul, Bill, Rita, and Mark were facing losing their brother; Rick’s mom was facing losing her son; my son, Jack was subtly aware that he might lose his father.  My pain was just a small part of a huge circle of grief that was enveloping us.

Each day Steve, Paul and Karen would put a smile on and show up at our house to do whatever they could to help.  I could not have survived without their support. I didn’t feel as alone with them to talk to and confide in. I had a hug when I was losing it and a shoulder to cry on. They shared the burden and it lightened the load.

Rick loved seeing Paul walk up the steps each morning.  He would sit in the recliner near the front door with sun shining through the windows and wait for the highlight of his day.  It was his brother bringing him, not just the paper and not just the help he offered, it was the most precious gift; it was his brother, Paul bringing Rick his love.


  1. I can not express to you how much your blog means to me. I had so many unanswered questions I am now getting the answers to. I wish I could have done more. Love you.

  2. Brothers can taunt and tease you until you feel like just smacking them. But if you something happens to you, nothing can hold them back from being there to "save the day". Brothers, their the best!

  3. Jen, love you too. You have no idea what you mean to me. You were the first little one in the family and as Rick's goddaughter, you were the apple of his eye. You always had a special place in his heart. He would frequently reminisce about when you were a baby. I still have a framed heart-shaped photo of you in your beautiful flower girl dress complete with bouquet of flowers from our wedding day in my aunt's secretary. He may have died but his love for you lives on.

    I'm glad my story has helped you in some way. I love you,
    Aunt Jane