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  • Connie Greshner

Not Part of the Plan

I found out three days ago that my beloved brother Bruce died. It's hard to describe the disbelief, the shock, the pain that has followed. I'm fumbling for words to meet the need I have to speak of my love and my grief.


I keep circling back to "I don't understand." Death at any time is difficult for us human survivors to comprehend. How can a whole person - body, mind and spirit - be present in one moment in time, interwoven in our lives, a part of our own identity, and then in the next moment, be gone? A hole has been gashed in the fabric of my universe. I try to comprehend this new world that I find myself in, this world where Bruce isn't here. My touchstone, my support, my biggest fan.


My brother.


And I feel the surge of anger rising. This wasn't the plan. Bruce and I had a plan, it was a good plan, we were working on the plan, and it was almost here. Bruce was almost here. His plane ticket was bought, he was coming to stay with me for three weeks, and he swore up and down he would be here permanently by June. He was going to live with me and start a new life out here. I was going to get some land and we were going to have a cabin and he was going to take care of things for me. Bruce and I talked about the plan all the time, and the wheels were in motion.


I didn't even know he was sick. People thought he had a cold. I hadn't heard from him in a week, and I assumed he was working off the grid, saving up for his trip. I left a message for him to call me, a message left when he may already have been dead. None of us liked it that he lived alone, but he was a strong, capable, fifty six year old man. None of us imagined him dying alone in his bed, and now we are left wondering how and why.

I will never again hear his dry and quick wit; he was the funniest guy I knew. I'll never hear his frank and honest words, always calling bullshit where he saw it. I'll never hear him say, "I love you Connie Lynne," which he said every single time we talked.

Two brothers gone in five years. Both strong, sensitive, kind men that I am proud to have had as brothers.


Bruce! This was not in the plan!


I want to believe that I can feel his arms around me. I want to believe that he is with each of us who remember him. I keep seeing flickering lights and I know people would think I was crazy believing that Bruce is letting me know he is here. Who cares what people think. I know, one hundred percent in my heart, that Bruce is with his heartbroken, beautiful daughter, his little girl that he loved unconditionally.


I feel Bruce's spirit beside me as I try to figure out how to navigate this new world where he is not physically present. I'm having a hard time giving a shit about anything right now, but I also know that Bruce was my biggest support. He had read my memoir and told me that he had cried, and he told me many times that he was proud of me.


So I know that I have to proceed with my book launch, and I can do it because my sisters are flying out to stand by me. We three girls, three of the five children who survived our mother's death. We are connected like never before, and protected always by our brothers.


Not part of the plan, Brucey.


Stick to the plan, Connie Lynne.


I'll do my best, my brother.



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