This year is the 10th anniversary of my brother Daniel’s death. It seems like a lifetime ago since I saw his face or called him by his name, but it’s also impossible to take in that he has already been gone so long. When I was a child, my big brother was my hero, my best friend, my protector, my most trusted adviser, my favourite story-teller. We were thick as thieves, peas in a pod, a double act with our ever-changing panoply of jokes and games, secret languages and endeavours.
Daniel has been, and continues to be my greatest teacher. Both his life and death have profoundly shaped my life. I still sense him in the warmth, humour and kindness of all the surrogate brothers I’ve been fortunate to know over the years, because my relationship with Daniel was the original blueprint. I see him today in the serious face of a young boy who holds his little sister’s trusting hand and guides her safely across the road. I recall him in a coral coloured evening sky, or the breath-taking murmuration of the swallows, in the reverberant note of a cello or the soulful line of a Jaco Pastorius tune - because these were all things Daniel loved. And I remember him when I see somebody talking back to voices that are unheard by others, laughing or spellbound or tormented, shaking from prescribed medications.
I think: that was my brother, and that is someone’s beloved brother or child or sister too. Daniel, thank you for all that you taught me through the love and sorrow that are inseparable entities, intertwined like the double helix of our DNA. I think of Kahlil Gibran’s words: "Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? / And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?" Thank you dear brother, for the compassion that is now contained in the depths that your loss carved out of, and into me.