by Theo

Robert was my youngest brother and he died when I was 16.

Robert was sick when he was born and had Cystic Fibrosis, which is why we knew we would lose him early. I was the eldest and wanting but not getting enough attention had me giving my siblings hell, even Robert who was always unwell.

Why did I tease him as well as the others when I knew he would pass away in a few short years? I really don’t know . He was so bright and always industrious. He packed so much into each and every day. I still remember him playing golf in the backyard.

Regularly he would be taken away to be medicated and given rest. The next memory was of our whole family going on a trip to The Netherlands, where I was born. This was truly an adventure but Robert always needed constant care and attention and we knew he was living on borrowed time even then.

When we returned to Australia Robert’s condition grew steadily worse but I did not see this clearly enough and persisted being the obnoxious older brother. When it came to Robert’s final weeks, days and then hours the atmosphere grew thicker and thicker with our sadness and we all prayed he would live longer. Then his final day came and he was wisked away from us to die in Mum and Dad’s room.

I never got to say goodbye face to face. I only got to see the coffin that contained his body. He was laid to rest under the ground and I haven’t been back to the graveyard since, because, I just could not face the cold hard reality of not seeing him again one last time.

Now all these years later I look back and remember a dream I had not so long ago in which I had died and was facing the long long dark tunnel to the other side and there at the other end of the tunnel with the light behind him was Robert waiting there to help me enter into the afterlife.