Marine’s Story

January 6, 2017

Ever since my dad remarried I had been constantly asking him and my stepmom for them to give me a little sister or brother. And on December 31st, 1993 my little brother Quentin was born. I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to go visit my dad so I could finally meet him. I was six years old, pretty young, but I was still allowed to hold him in my arms as long as I was seated. I still have a picture of that day, the day I sat on my grandparents couch with my little Quentin in my arms and a huge smile on my face. I still remember that day as if it was yesterday. I was so happy and so proud to have a little brother. I remember how sad I was when my vacation ended and I had to go back to my mom and say goodbye to my beautiful, precious little brother. I also remember feeling jealous that my cousins who lived in the same area as my dad where probably going to get to see him more often then me… When I got back home and returned to school there was only one subject on my mind, and that’s all I would talk about: Quentin.

A few months later, in May, my mom came to wake me up and told me that she had something sad to tell me. So I just looked at her not really certain what to expect but surely I didn’t expect anything close to what she announced. When she first said to me: “Marine, Quentin is dead” I actually looked at her with a smile on my face and asked her if it was a joke, to which she replied: “of course not, that’s not something that you joke about”. And then the reality of what had happened hit me. I couldn’t understand how and why but all I could feel was this hole, this huge emptiness and sadness, and for the first time I understood what it felt like to lose someone that you love. I don’t think I ever cried so much. Getting dressed that morning (because we were taking the train that same day to go to the funeral that was taking place the following day) it became such a difficult thing to do, getting dressed. Something so simple as putting my pants on seemed suddenly impossible. I remember that morning feeling something inside of me had changed. I had lost not only my brother but a part of my innocence and I became aware of the fragility of life. I also felt that I had suddenly grown older.

The funeral is something that I will always remember. And I know that originally a lot of people on my dad’s side had told my mom that I shouldn’t come to the funeral because I was too young, etc… But after talking to different people my mom decided that I should go and be able to say goodbye to my brother and to see that I wasn’t the only one feeling like I did. I have to say that that day is imprinted deep in my heart. I am so thankful that I got to be there that day. I wouldn’t change it for one second, as sad as it was, I believe it was important for me to be there. I got to do some drawings for my brother to put in his coffin and I also got to show my beautiful brother to my mom who had never met him. My mother told me later on that I actually had said to her that I was happy she could finally meet him. And most importantly I got to see him one last time. He was so beautiful. He looked so peaceful.

The hardest and saddest part of that day was when we had to leave for church. We were all waiting at the curb in front of my grandparents’ house. My dad and stepmom were still atop the stairs that led to the front door of the house. I think it was her brothers who were carrying Quentin’s little coffin, it was closed shut. As they passed in front of my dad and her, she suddenly screamed the saddest scream that I have heard, this long “NO!” as she was holding herself to the ramp of the stairs because she didn’t want to go. I think she had suddenly realized what was about to happen. And as she screamed, the whole street fell silent and we all stood there as the magnitude of her pain pierced like an arrow through our hearts. And at that moment I saw and understood the sadness and sorrow that she felt. I think everyone did. It’s the first time I saw my grandfather who had always been happy and funny actually shed tears.

It’s been twenty years now since my brother has passed away and he’ll always have a huge place in my life. Though I do not always understand why he had to die I think that I have come to accept it and make peace with it. I do still wonder sometimes what he would be like now? What would he look like? What would he study? But I don’t dwell on it. To me he has become my guardian angel and my whole family’s guardian angel. To me a part of his soul rests in the teddy bear that I named after him after he passed away. I still have that teddy bear and I still hold on to him every time that I need comfort. I am not religious per se but I do believe that his energy is with me. I think I transferred his energy to this particular teddy bear because when I was six years old and I would get sad at the loss of my brother, that teddy bear was something that I could hold on to. As if I was getting comfort directly from Quentin himself. I could hold on to that teddy for as long as I needed to. I could talk to him and let him know that I missed Quentin. I would eventually come to find peace inside knowing that he was somehow still with me, listening to me, comforting me. What I sometimes find frustrating is that a lot of people almost seem to act as if it wasn’t a big loss for me when I tell them that I had a little brother that died of SIDS when he was only 4 and half months and I was 6 years old. And that on top of that he wasn’t my “real” brother, some say, since he was my half brother. But the truth is that to me he was simply my brother and I loved him like any sister loves their little brother or sister. When he left us my heart was broken, period. And to this day, every time that I go to France where I am from, I go visit his grave and draw a huge heart in the sand in front of his tombstone. I tell him that I love him. He will always be in my heart. He is my strength, my little angel.