A week ago, I got a call from my dad that my brother had died. My sweet, kind, loving little brother. My brother, who had tortured me as a kid (there was an incident involving my pillow and a dead cockroach which still sticks in my mind), and had turned into a great and loyal friend. My brother, who was so very excited about coming to visit me this Thursday - going to a football game, apple-picking, going camping, hanging out watching Buffy.
When I heard the news, I was pretty much broken for an hour or so. Then, in order to keep from breaking down completely, I picked up my knitting. Not just any knitting, but the scarf I had started back in March as a Christmas present for my brother. Mark has always been a joy to knit for, as he really appreciated everything, from a little cork person ornament to a Futurama brain slug to his Jayne hat (Firefly) last year. Any knitted gift he would show off, use and treasure. Last Christmas, he asked for a scarf for the next year. We agreed that he needed a Doctor Who scarf (as worn by Tom Baker). We had grown up watching the show in England, and he had convinced me to start watching the new series, which I am now obsessed with, so the choice seemed pretty obvious. I had about a foot done as of last week; I had knitted on it a bit here and there, but hadn't really gotten too far. So when I heard the news, I picked it up, and just started knitting. I knitted and knitted, allowing the garter stitch to hypnotize me and calm me. I kept thinking "I can't rip this out. I can't give it to someone else. I can't leave it unfinished. It's for Mark, it always was, and still is."
On the flight to Boulder, I knitted, drank some scotch and cried. Once in Boulder with my parents, I continued to knit. I would stay up until the wee hours of the night knitting, because I knew that, to quote Buffy (which Mark and I both love), "I have to do these things, 'cause when I stop, then [he's] really gone." By Monday, the day of Mark's funeral, I had over five feet finished. A half-hour before we left for the funeral home, I bound off and wove in the ends. I have never felt such finality in finishing as I did at that moment. I placed the scarf at my brother's side in his casket. There are no photos of the scarf, and I am ok with that. It was for him, for no one else but him. The process, that was for me. So it seems appropriate that the only photo I have of the scarf is of it in process.
The service was beautiful and brutal. I still have trouble believing that he is really gone. Anyone who knew him, even just a little, knew that he was an incredibly special person, a true gentle soul. He was a better person than I am, by far. He cared so much about others, and truly and unconditionally loved his family and friends. I know he would've done anything I asked of him (and yes, I sometimes took advantage of that... did I mention how much a better person he was than I?). I guess he was just too good for this world. He will be missed, more than I can put into words.