7 Years Later: Remembering My Brother

Facebook has this nifty feature where you can search “On This Day” and instantly be transported back to this day in history over the course of your virtual life. I have actually enjoyed this feature. It’s surprised me in fun ways over time and everyone knows I’m a sucker for a good memory.

Back in May, I happened upon a “On This Day” status from 2009 that read something like “Asking for prayers for my brother”, and at that moment, I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach because I knew that at that moment, seven years ago, I was losing my brother and I had no idea.

For the last 6 or 7 weeks, every morning when I wake up, I have reflexively, searched “On This Day”. For the first time in 7 years, I was able to actually watch from a virtual distance, day by Facebook day, as the time ticked until my brother died. But 7 years ago, I had absolutely no idea.

The first few days after that first “asking for prayers” post, I continued to update people on my brother’s health. Things changed daily and we really didn’t know much. It just didn’t look good. I remember being very scared. About a week into it, I posted something about a clown visiting my brother and fearing for the clown’s life but that wasn’t the case. Looking back, it all really makes sense. You see, my brother had been told a few hours earlier about multiple serious health issues by an asshole doctor with really shitty bedside manner. I didn’t really know the full extent of it at the time but I now refer to it as Ralph looking “broken”. He did. He looked broken. And then he went home.

Life went back to normal according to Facebook. I posted random bullshit about  The Bachelorette and work. At one point, someone asked in a comment about how my brother was doing and I reported that he was doing ok but needed to follow up with the doctor.

I started and finished the last class I needed in order to become licensed as a professional counselor. Yep. In the eight weeks from start to finish of the story of my brother’s death, I completed a class on Career Counseling. Exciting, huh?

In the last week or two, I have really been more interested in what had been happening in those last few days before Ralph died. I mean, I remember but, what about those damn Facebook posts? Again, the Bachelorette was pretty important that year. And I had a few pretty interesting work events in the first few weeks of June.

The last week became increasingly deja vu, though. Because I remember that last week. June 25, 2009 was a pretty big day in history. Farrah Fawcett died that day after a long battle with cancer. Oh, and Michael Jackson died that day too. I still remember standing in the gym at Devereux next to my soon to be boss looking at our respective cell phones,saying “Oh my God, he is only 50 years old. That’s just crazy.”

June 26, 2009 was Ralph’s 5oth birthday, and while I didn’t talk to him that day, I did leave him a message that night. I remember being a little spooked by the whole Michael dead at 50 thing so I didn’t mention it (obviously). No Facebook birthday shout out to my brother. I mean, he didn’t even have Facebook.

June 27th was a Saturday and I took Max and his cousins to the pool. I posted several pictures of them at the pool on Facebook that day. I remember Michael Jackson was playing everywhere and Rylan was moonwalking.

June 28, 2009 was a Sunday and Sundays meant Ciliberti dinners. Ralph had settled down a lot over the past two months. He had been on oxygen when he first got home but was off of it now. He had quit smoking. I knew that he might be going out with his friends here and there but I didn’t want to argue with Ralph. No one but Ralph ever won those arguments. So, Ralph handed me some money and sent me out to the store with a list of things to pick up for dinner. As I was leaving, he said to me, “And pick up a birthday cake too.” I did. A chocolate cake with red and blue balloons. And we did what we did for every other birthday. We sang Happy Birthday to a 50 year old man and we ate cake. I never saw my brother alive again.

June 29, 2009, I posted on Facebook “Carol Ciliberti is cracking up watching Kathy Griffin’s mother refer to Facebook as Facepage.”

I absolutely 100% remember that day. But until now, I never realized that would be the last “pre-Ralph death” day. It’s absolutely stunning to me that the last normal day of my adult life consisted of my watching Kathy Griffin’s mother talk about Facepage.

The next post about Ralph happens on July 1, 2009 in the early morning and consists of the seeds of my blogging career. It was the seed of my teaching career. The seed of my “FUCK YOU ALL” career. The seed of my “Own your shit”.

Life can really suck. But I’ve learned so much. And Ralph is always in my ear. Always telling me I can do it. Always telling me to fuck you all. Of course, he’s smiling the whole fucking time.







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