On a normal Tuesday, during a normal, happy afternoon chat with my mom, everything changed. She frantically hung up on me because there was a call coming in on her other line. She saw the area code for Arizona, but it wasn't my brother's number. It was the call she had worried about getting since he moved alone to Arizona 8 years ago.
Daniel had been found unconscious by his co-worker when he returned from lunch that day. He had eaten something that apparently set off a severe allergic reaction. Paramedics were called and they got his heart going again, but he never regained consciousness. My mom, sister and brother flew down from Michigan that Friday, knowing they were going to say goodbye. It was heart-wrenching. They officially disconnected the life-support on January 22nd. Daniel wasn't yet 38 years old.
My sister was able to stay with my mom at Daniel's house for a full two weeks and my trip overlapped so I got to see a bit of her. (I missed seeing my older brother by just a day.) A sweet friend of mine offered to watch the boys for the 4 days Chris had to work and I was able to put my work on hold. I flew out last Monday and stayed for 8 days. It wasn't long enough.
Daniel's wishes were to be an organ donor and also to be cremated, so we honored his requests. Here's a picture I took of my mom and sister as we scattered some of his ashes in the backyard. They were reading a lovely poem I found.
Daniel was a big animal lover and had three cats. My sister took his favorite, Kringer, back with her to Michigan and we had to give the other two to a rescue organization in AZ. Here's a picture of Kringer on the way to the airport. He doesn't look enthused about seeing snow for the first time, does he?
So rarely do I have pictures of me and my sister or mom taken, so I snapped a couple while I was there. It was odd to be kid-free for over a week and I missed them terribly, but I know it was a special time for us to spend together even though it wasn't under the best circumstances.
It was my first - and most likely my last - trip to AZ. I have never been out West because I always thought of it as dirty, dusty and hot. Since I was there in January/early February, I was wrong about the "hot" but right about the rest of it. I was happy to get back to the snow in Wisconsin because I know soon I'll see the lush, green spring season I love so much.