moving forward

navigating through the life that was and moving into the life that is

My best friend, my brother

on July 13, 2013

editI’m not sure what took me so long to do this, but I’m going to attribute it to one of those TBI things: the thought hadn’t occurred to me yet. I never thought of it and said, yeah maybe some day. I just honestly never thought of it. With that said my fingers are moving so fast and my heart is pounding with the desire to share this with you all.
My brother and I had a strained relationship growing up. Never bad, but never easy. Life threw some difficult things our way and we both handled them the only way we knew how. As you grow up, social groups are so divisive and my brother and I were both in many different groups and shared many friends, but also were at odds at times with our interests and hobbies. And because the world revolves around you when you are a teenager, we were both guilty of some pretty hurtful things said and done. After high school, my brother moved out to Oregon for six years and then to Chicago. Shortly after that, I moved to Georgia. So for the last 15 years we have not been in the same city. Our whole adult lives we have been apart and though we have both grown and changed into our adult selves, all of those long ago teenager feelings crept around.
Then Glen came into my life. Glen and his brother Michael were so very close and I know that it was difficult for him to understand why my brother and I did not have that. (Other than the whole me being a girl thing). The night of our first date, Glen and I ended up talking over drinks until about 1:30 in the morning. Around 1:00, I got a call from my brother. Glen asked, are you close to your brother? And I said not really so I knew that I should answer because something could be wrong. I answered and he just said, “Hey, what’s going on?” It was 1:00 in the morning and my brother was just calling to say “hi”? Long story short, all my family knew of Glen was that we had met on MySpace and now I wasn’t home on a school night and had to work the next day. My mom had conjured up all kinds of horrible stories and outcomes in her head and called my brother to call for her. Mom’s worries were put to rest, but I had never been able to put that question and answer out of my mind: “Are you close to your brother?” “No not really.” So over the next few years, Glen always worked on that. Never forcefully, honestly at times I didn’t even know it but I am sure that he wanted me to know my brother the way he knew and loved his brother.
Then the accident happened…
I have no way of knowing what happened over the next few weeks other than stories I have been told and things I have read. One thing I am certain of though, my brother is my hero. He dropped everything and drove down here with my parents the night of the accident. He did anything and everything that was asked of him. Updated Facebook day after day, answered all the hard questions, greeted visitor after visitor at the hospital, then held me when I cried, walked with me at the visitation and funeral when I couldn’t walk myself. He came on the night of the accident and he has been here ever since. He was in a stage of his career where he really needed to focus on it, network, follow leads and instead he came down here and dropped everything. I mean everything. He walked into a situation where no one knew what was going to happen. No one knew how long it would take for me to recover (and I’m still recovering). No one could tell him what the plan was, but since that moment he has said over and over that he is here until I am strong enough. Along the way, he became my confidant, our “butler” (the kids call him butler Tom in jest, but that’s another story), my adviser, my comfort on the difficult days, my children’s confidant, friend, role-model, and above all my best friend.
I honestly never thought that would happen in my life. As I said before, our relationship has never been bad, but best friend? I never saw that coming. In Glen’s absence, my brother has moved forward and fought and never given up trying to be everything that a sister who loses the love of her life, suffers a TBI, has to learn to walk again, has to learn to live again, could possibly ever ask for. Glen has shown himself in so many ways through this tragedy, but this thing with my brother, this new friendship has to be one of Glen’s greatest accomplishments. When he puts his mind to things, he does whatever it takes to see it come true and he has so beautifully orchestrated this one.


You are an outstanding individual. Your love of others and willingness to do whatever needs to be done is no little accomplishment. Through this whole process, people have been telling me how strong I am and I always point to my faith because that is what helps me every day. Last night, though, as we were talking, I realized that every time that someone tells me, “You are so strong”, I fell like they should have been telling you that. So Tom, you are so strong. So unbelievably strong. You have held my family together in the times when I just was not able to do so. Whether it’s taking the night shift with Cameron during those difficult days, painting Alana’s toenails, or taking Cameron for a much needed “boy’s night”, you have done it all. Every day. Every morning. Every night. Every moment, you have been so strong. There is no way I will ever be able to repay you for what you have done for me, for us. My children are so blessed to have you as a role model, a friend, a butler, and most importantly, an uncle. An uncle of epic proportions who will define for years to come what loving someone unconditionally will look like. One day they will understand how you came to their mommy’s rescue. How you came to their rescue. How you made life become normal again. How you helped us all find our new normal. I am forever indebted to you and I love you more than you could ever know.

Your little sister,


P.S. Now let’s go back to this first DMB song you introduced to me and jam! Love you!



9 responses to “My best friend, my brother

  1. Barb Pitkin says:

    I think this is all your brother needs as repayment! Unconditional love rules!!!

  2. loribowen says:

    This is beautiful!

  3. Jon Carlson says:

    Ok- this was ridiculously amazing and sweet.

    My kids are asking me why I crying . I told them for the best of reasons . Your parents are such great people and reading this must make them so unbelievably happy and proud . You are a strong woman! Keep going!!!

    Take Care,

    Jon A. Carlson

    PS I too only have one sibling , older sister, and feel very lucky .

  4. Tonia says:

    Well said Barb!! I swear I am waiting for all this to come out in book form!!! You have am AMAZING way with your words……I still have the letter you wrote me on my birthday (it’s on my mirror, and inspires me everyday!!!) You are such an inspiration and even though you are still healing you teach the rest of us SO much!! Love you!!

  5. Dave Kagan says:

    Your lovely and loving sister just called you a “mensch.” Google it if it’s unfamiliar, but trust me, in this context it’s very flattering. You are a hero.

  6. Jeff Kagan says:


  7. Sandy Robinson says:

    So beautiful. Tom is an amazingly selfless person.

  8. Aunt Cathy says:

    I loved reading this again. Yes, Tom is a wonderful man. He stepped in and helped you up. You both are strong! Much love to you both!

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