By Kandy Magotti
I’ll never forget the day my brother died. Like a time machine, it’s as if my memory transports me right back to that moment in the hospital room with my mother, father, husband, me, and my lifeless brother. With the energy of the bright sun’s rays shining through the hospital room window, there I stood in my darkest hour reeling from utter emotional pain and disbelief feeling like it was a dream and a nightmare all in one unfortunate reality.
“My brother is dead and he is never coming back”
I spoke internally. On July 9, 2005, Colby Jonathan Cox, my brother and one and only sibling, died at the age of 26 from a rare disease called Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD for short) changing my life and world forever. I watched my brother, who I loved in many ways like my own child as a consequence of the many years spent caring for him, die a slow, degenerative, and painful death. With a shattered spirit and grief stricken heart I was now forced to face the rest of my life adjusting to a new existence as an “only child.” How on earth was I to do that?
ALD—three little letters that have had such an enormous impact on my life. ALD is a slow, progressive, degenerative killer that ultimately renders its victims in a vegetative state to the point where they can no longer move, speak, or see. ALD is a neurological brain disorder that destroys myelin, the protective sheath that surrounds the brain’s neurons, the nerve cells that allow us to think and to control our muscles. ALD is an X-linked genetic disorder that is passed down from mother to son. If the cards that life has dealt decide to place ALD in your DNA, the chances of being a female carrier are 50/50 and the chances of being a male victim are 50/50. The odds were against us so it seems. My mother is a carrier, her mother was a carrier, and I too am a carrier. Two of my mother’s four brothers died from ALD as did my mother’s only son: my brother…
The days leading up to his death are etched on my soul. Many weeks, days, and hours were spent at the hospital. My mother basically lived there in that sterile room. I’ll never forget the smell. I would come almost daily to give her a break and spend one-on-one time with him. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t speak. But he could hear. I recorded myself on a cassette tape expressing all the things I wanted to say to him, most importantly how much I loved him. I reminisced about stories from our childhood and the special memories only siblings could “get”. I sang “our song,” one that only he and I shared. I told him he deserved to have eternal peace after a lifetime of struggle.
“It’s ok to let go my sweet brother,” I whispered, “it’s ok…”
I knew he could hear it all because every time the recording came to an end, his face would twitch and his breathing became more labored. I would quickly rewind the tape, place the headphones on his ears, and press play. He would immediately return to stillness. We must have replayed that tape a thousand times up until that night…
My brother and I have a very special connection. You see, we were born on the exact same day six years apart. So when he left this earth, I felt it before the call even came through the next morning. I woke up in the middle of the night crying because I felt my brother had died. I convinced myself it was only a nightmare and fell back asleep. Early the next morning, a little after 6 am, my mother called from that hospital room to tell me Colby had died in his sleep sometime during the middle of the night. What I obviously had already known in my heart was now confirmed in my mind.
Because of his existence, because of all we went through as a family, because I needed to find a way to honor his life, I searched my heart and soul for my purpose. What was that experience all for I asked my Source? There has to be a reason…Three years after his death in a rare moment of quiet after my twin daughters were born, I dared to ask myself that question out loud. I heard a voice as clear and calm as the bright blue sky after the perfect storm reply, “grief counselor.” I looked around the room to see who was speaking to me. I was home alone with my children sound asleep. While I may have been alone in that room physically, I know I was not alone spiritually…
My brother died nearly 10 years ago and, although there is still sadness in my heart, I can honestly say the pain of the experience is gone. I am emotionally COMPLETE with the loss. How did I do it you may ask? Well, in many different ways AND in the most important way… by making the choice to walk THROUGH my pain rather than finding ways to avoid it. I did and continue to do the spiritual and therapeutic work required to process my life THROUGH my loss experiences. It’s a choice I make every day…
There is an enormous difference in how you experience the rest of your life after any loss with sadness versus with pain.
Where my memories of Colby once caused me pain, they now hold a space of peace, solace, and gratitude. My strong desire to honor my brother’s earthly experience and existence navigated me towards a career, my calling, that now allows me the ability to share what I’ve learned in order to successfully help my clients facilitate their loss experiences and pain. There are no quick fixes and it is work, however, walking THROUGH it begins with a choice. I chose to gain a truer, more authentic Life THROUGH Loss™—and you can too.
In your stillness, ask yourself out loud,
“Do I want to cope with loss or do I want a Life THROUGH Loss™?”
Don’t be surprised if your question is answered…
Kandy Magnotti is the founder of Life THROUGH Loss, LLC and is a Pre-Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®, and a Grief, Loss, and Trauma Facilitator. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and earned her Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at Argosy University. After having a wonderful 10 year career in the medical and pharmaceutical industries, her last of which was with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, she was financially successful but spiritually unfulfilled. A personal tragedy has led her to the work of grief therapy and recovery in addition to becoming spiritually fulfilled. Visit www.lifethroughloss.com.
This article is a chapter from the book Transform Your Life! written by 60 real-life heroes and experts and available at Amazon.com, BN.com, www.Transformation-Publishing.com and all ebook formats.