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trying to make sense of it all.


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Hello all,

I'm new to the forum. I hope I am placing this under the right topic.

I'm going to start talking about my brother, and end with my father. My father passed recently, and is really the one throwing me for a loop, thus my posting in the loss of a parent forum.

My brother had a specific type of brain aneurysm, called an AVM, erupt on October 8th, 2013. It happened in the middle of the night while he was on a jobsite in the western North Dakota oil fields. I woke up to a call from my father and immediately thought something had happened with one of my aging grandparents, but soon learned that was not the case. I gathered my wife and son and we hit the road for Sioux Falls, SD where my brother was being air lifted to arguably the best neuro-critical care unit in the upper Midwest. By the time I had arrived, my brother was in a medically induced coma, they had cooled his body temp down to minimize swelling and that caused him to shiver violently, so when I first ran into his room I saw what looked like him seizing. Then came the phone calls and the questions from family that had not yet arrived, which I didn't really have any answers to. My brother was hooked up to 13 different medication pumps as well as a kidney dialysis machine, a respirator, and a feeding tube. He lived literally 'on the edge' for 13 of the longest days I have ever experienced in my life.

He was never alone during that 13 day period. One of us was by his side 24/7. My brother-in-law and I liked to take the night shift because it was more peaceful. I barely slept, as I was allowed to attend all of the doctor meetings during the day as well, due to my ability to comprehend medical talk and terminology.

On the 13th day, he seemed to be stable. My sister and I were getting ready to head home for a couple days to work a little and just take a step back. We had said our goodbyes and went back to tell my brother we were leaving (he was still in a coma, we never did get the chance to have him wake up). One of the things his body was struggling with was keeping enough blood pressure to function. I noticed on his monitor his blood pressure and his oxygen level were on the low side. I said I was staying until he leveled out again, but within the hour his heart gave up and stopped beating. They were able to revive him, but he had been clinically dead for 11 minutes. It was less than 10 minutes later and he crashed again. They tried for almost 10 minutes again to revive him before we collectively decided he wouldn't want us to go on after what he had been through. We all knew if he had come back at that point, he would not be happy not being able to be the strong, independent person he prided himself on being.

That day, October 21,2013 -my world came crashing in and everything stopped. My kid brother had just passed away. He had an 18 month old son, my nephew. I just couldn't understand how this could happen.

The following months were hard. Thanksgiving, my brother's birthday, Christmas, new years, etc we're all hard and it was very difficult to "get in the holiday mood."  Months passed and it got easier to think about and I had actually gotten to an ok place where I could enjoy a day here and there again. I was always seen as the strong one in the family, so I had always been there for my family, without taking time for myself.

Then my world completely exploded. I was at my aunt's house, fixing her washing machine and I received back to back calls from my uncle. I hadn't answered as I was in the middle of the project, but began to worry almost instantly. I went to grab my phone to call him back and my sister called. I answered to her crying, and when I asked what was wrong, all she could say was"dad is dead." My throat tightened, my ears got hot, my heartbeat slowed, and it felt like the walls in the room came in on me as I uttered the only thing I could: "huh? Are you sure? What happened?"

My father was an athletic man. He had played hockey almost his entire life, but his newest passion was running and triathlon. He had ran in many marathons including the Boston marathon, and his personal best was around 3 hours 4 minutes (pretty good for a 50 year old!) He was in the process this summer of training for the ironman triathlon taking place in Boulder, Colorado in August.

My father worked in finance for a large import car dealership. He had worked nearly every Saturday for the past 13 years. His normal days off were Wednesday and Sunday. My brother had died on 10/21 and the particular Saturday of 6/21 my dad had a rare opportunity to have the day off. He decided to go on a training ride for the bike portion of the triathlon. He was going to go 100 miles that day. He debated waiting until Sunday, as the weather was supposed to be bad on Saturday - but it turned out to be nice. He and my step mom took off on their bikes and rode for a while, my step mom had to break away to attend an event for my step brother, but she said my dad was determined to keep on going to reach his 100 mile goal. He was riding a road frequented by cyclists. It is probably the longest, straightest, flattest road I have ever seen. Hardly any traffic at all as it is an old highway turned county road that parallels the interstate. While I was out there for around 60 minutes, I probably saw 3 cars.

My dad was on the return leg of his journey, riding down the road, when a 26 year old kid on his way to work couldn't wait the 1 mile he had left to go to send a text. He came up and hit my dad from behind doing around 65mph and hit him so hard that his bike rims dug into the asphalt of the road. He broke my father's back and neck and instantly killed him. My father flew 120 yards landing face up in the grass on the side of the road before the guy even hit the brakes. There was a passing amtrack train that stopped and actually had a doctor on board. The doctor and a passenger tried cpr for nearly 20 minutes with no results. This 26 year old man had killed my father.

From what I know of this young man, he has somewhat of a checkered past. He had over 20 moving violations on his record including dui, excessive speeding, and multiple accounts of driving without a license.

When my brother passed, I had time to prepare and say goodbye. My father was taken from me in an instant. Most people who I talk to about it just say "what are you going to do, everyone texts and drives" I sought advice from my mom's brother who is an ex police officer and he basically told me "accidents happen"

That just isn't good enough for me, why would something of this magnitude happen to a good man? A loving man that is a productive member of the community and his church?

I take some comfort knowing my father and brother are together. My father was having the hardest time of us all with my brother's passing. All the things that lined up to bring the inattentive driver and my father together at that moment have to be more than coincidence. Being off on a Saturday, exactly 8 months to the day of my brother's death, and the poor weather holding to be nice (there was a terrible storm that evening).


Things have been hard over the last month.  I have purchased a home, and my wife is pregnant.  I know I'm not totally there for her, or our 5 year old son as my mind is in a place of it's own.  Things are getting better day by day, but I don't know if I can ever have the same frame of mind I once had.  I know that I need to be there for my family, but it's so hard to focus on anything but the negatives of this past year (my wife also lost her Grandmother in early Oct of 2013).  My wife and I have very differing views on things at this point so we don't talk much about it.  I have steered towards faith, where she has steered away. 


I won't lie, I didn't know what to expect when I started writing this passage, but I actually feel a bit more clear minded just putting the words down and letting some emotion and thought flow. I thank you all for allowing me this opportunity to share with you.

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