See Ya Later, Chinee

I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, for many weeks to continue with the My Brother was My Keeper series. Initially, I blamed the delay on the holidays and in all truthfulness, that was partially correct. However, after my last post which involved my recollections of two families saying goodbye to their brothers, I find myself either facing my cowardice or my inability to write about losing My Brother.

With the understanding that I’ve laid completely bare ”some” of the most humiliating and painful memories of my life within this blog, I admit that I do not have the strength, fortitude or the bravery needed in which to detail the time leading up to and or including the death of My Brother.

I’d like to momentarily pause here and send heartfelt gratitude to the many members of the Bryant, King & Perkins families who took precious time to contact and tell me what the My Solder memoir meant to them. It was truly emotionally overwhelming to know that something I had written from my childhood had touched so many on such a visceral level, because it is that which a Writer hopes to achieve. Thank you all, for making my dream come true.

Throughout this 6 months long process, more than anything, I was hopeful that I would be successful in chronicling the absolute pure and untarnished love Chinee and I shared. Writing about our unique relationship was easy even though the end of each chapter found me weakened with tears and half way through another new box of Kleenex.

I can’t claim that I’ve come anywhere near cornering the market on loss, grief and pain but I’m pretty certain that I have or rather had cornered it on having the most totally involved, the most selfless and most loving brother of all time. From the beginning of my life to the end of his, we shared an intangible love. His love was bound on all sides with the teaching of life lessons. It was never just about football, or planting trees or any number of countless occurrences in our lives. It was always about him teaching me how to choose or providing me a path to follow. My Brother taught me unselfishness, he taught me stoicism, he taught me endurance, he taught me how to love unconditionally, he taught me laughter and at the end of his life he taught me that there is grace and dignity in dying bravely.

He trusted me with his legacy and because of the bit of him I’ve shared in this forum and what I’ve shared with my children, who knew him for a short time as the loving Uncle he couldn’t help but be; I hope I’ve succeeded in presenting him in a manner in which a smile will always accompany a thought of him. I could do no better for his legacy than that.

Although I am choosing not to continue with the My Brother series, it does not mean that Chinee will disappear from my writings, how could he when he is woven into every fiber of my being? But for now, he will take a step back as the focal point. But even this stepping back didn’t come without heavy concern. It caused me to wonder whether or not I was letting him down by prematurely ending his story. But as I have done many times when a difficult decision was needed, I closed my eyes and listened for his voice.

During the last few months of Chinee’s life that evil and depictable disease of cancer stripped him of the ability to walk without experiencing intolerable, nausea inducing pain. Clinically speaking, the cancer had metastasized from his lungs to his supporting bones causing osteolysis. The cancer riddled his bones with so many small holes whereby any pressure applied to a particular joint or bone created multiple fractures, in short, his bones were being pulverized. It also robbed him of his melodic, laughter-filled voice.

During one of my last hospital visits with Chinee, he’d refused to allow me to see just how much pain he was enduring. On a ruse, he’d asked me to go to the hospital’s cafeteria for a soft drink and as I was eager to do anything for his comfort or desire, I hurried away. He used the time I was absent to tell my husband the degree of which he was suffering. Even so, the next day as I visited with him alone, his need to relieve his bladder became urgent yet he refused to use the urinal placed at his bedside. That, in his mind, would have displayed a weakness that he didn’t want me to witness. In one of his last loving, caring and valiant acts to prove to me that I needn’t worry overly much, he denied himself a bit of comfort AGAIN, to allay my fears. By this time, his left shoulder and both ankles had been completely compromised by the cancer, even so, refusing my help, he lifted himself from his hospital bed and walked unaided to the restroom. It took his Doctor’s (who had made his way to My Brother’s room for rounds while Chinee was in the restroom), astounded expression for me to understand just what a feat of improbable, impossibility Chinee had undertaken. Man!!!!!!

I spoke to Chinee of my doubts of being able to exist in a world where he didn’t and in a high pitched whisper, all that cancer had left of his once booming voice, Chinee directed me that I needed to learn and learn quickly to live without him because his dying meant me living to tell his story in a way that he never could or would have. Without needing to give his statement any thought, I knew instinctively he could have never nor would he ever have told his story because he lived his life for others therefore, others would have to tell his story for him. So, in saying that, with a few minor changes I will again use the lines from a song that clearly told “our” story:

We’ve had our share of life’s ups and downs
But fate’s been kind, the downs have been few
I guess you could say that we’ve been lucky
Well, I guess you could say that it’s all because of you If anyone should ever write our life story
For whatever reason there might be
Oh, you’ll be there between each line of pain and glory
Cause you’re the best thing that ever happened to me
Oh, there have been times when times were hard
But always somehow we made it, we made it through
Cause for every moment that we’ve spent hurting
There was a moment that I spent, ah, just loving you If anyone should ever write our life story
For whatever reason there might be
Oh, you’ll be there between each line of pain and glory
Cause you’re the best thing that ever happened to me.

Chinee’s life was told by his smile which turned into laughter…and…there…was…nothing…he…loved…more …than…laughter. His smile was as big as East Texas timbers and his heart bigger than all of Texas combined. That would be what he’d want people to know about him. Much more beyond that would have received his perfectly pat answer when it came to people wanting more from him than he could give, “Eff’em!” With my eyes now wide opened, I’m remembering that he loved to leave’em smiling and he adored a surprise ending and because he wouldn’t have seen that one coming, I join my outrageous giggles with what I know would be his laughter. Please smile with me as I remember, My Brother.

I’m trying my best to leave’em smiling. Thanks for helping me Bro. I still love you & that smile! See Ya later Chinee.

2 thoughts on “See Ya Later, Chinee

  1. Not only is this passage representative of the legacy of a man who loved with all he was but it is adequately representative of how wide an impact one man can have on generations. My uncle was raised to be the tower I looked up to. He is often the ruler I use to navigate difficulty and guide those under my influence. I am grateful for this memorial and the celebration of love in its best form.

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