Yesterday marked the end of the shloshim, the 30 days of mourning for my brother.
I’m not going to lie, it’s been pretty tough getting back to real life. I have wonderful friends that are being incredibly supportive, but at the end of the day there is a still this huge void that’s raw and bleeding. Little things throw salt on the wound–the poster in the metro about outdoor Star Trek movie showings (Eytan loved Star Trek); looking at next season’s theater lineups and remembering how we saw King Lear together (and sadly, also Stacy Keach naked); watching Top Chef and being sad I can’t argue with him over who’s going to win this season.
I thought I might share some stories with you so you might get to know my brother just a bit. He was smart (beat me in countless games of trivial pursuit; his spelling, however, was atrocious so I beat him in Scrabble just as much), funny, and a really kind person. He didn’t like to be told what to do (who does?), but when asked to help out he was there in a heartbeat.
He hated the word “cotillion.” I’m still unclear why, but if I wanted to get on his nerves I’d just repeat the word at him over and over again.
One summer, jealous that my sister and I are prolific and adventurous cooks and he only knew how to make omelettes, grilled cheese, and macaroni, Eytan worked his way through 3 or 4 cook books and taught himself how to cook. His favorite recipe was penne arrabiatta which I ate much of until I went gluten free; I have a feeling it was as much the fun name as the dish that he gravitated toward.
He was a terribly picky eater, to the point that if he had eaten something for all of his life, but suddenly found out there was some ingredient in it he didn’t like, he wouldn’t eat it again. Take, for example, my mom’s lamb stew. Eytan ate it for years, then when he found out there were pureed beans in it (I admit his finding out was entirely my fault), he wouldn’t eat it anymore. Or the sweet and sour cabbage I made once, of which he had three servings, told me it was delicious, then when I told him it was cabbage yelled at me for not telling him it wasn’t onions.
He loved movies, and had an incredibly wide and deep knowledge of them. He was my trusted movie critic (although he chose “The New World” over “Underworld,” a decision we both agreed was horribly flawed as we had to sit through unending hours or birds chirping and leaves rustling with no redeeming dialog or plot).
One of my fondest memories of my time with Eytan is when we used to go to the movies. Once, we bought a box of milk duds and a box of whoppers. We opened them during the previews and they were finished before the movie even started! After that, it sort of became a ritual–we’d buy a box of milk duds and a box of whoppers, and even though we tried (maybe not that hard), we never managed to have any left by the time the movie started.
He was a wonderful brother, and it’s still hard to believe that he’s gone. Sometimes it feels like he’s off on a trip somewhere but I’ll see him again soon. Sometimes I wake up in the morning thinking this has all been a terrible nightmare, and if I call him he’ll pick up the phone.
But he won’t. He’s gone and he’s not coming back. That new reality is going to take a long time to get used to.