Various stains

Published on Wednesday 6th June 2007 by DJ Kirkby

I find myself drawn to visit the spot on our patio where my blood has left it’s marks. I limp past our flower beds bursting with new growth; the scented geranium with its tiny pink flowers, the hot pink towheaded peonies, nasturtiums with their outrageously bright orange, yellow and red flowers, green sweat pea and gladioli shoots, isotomas with their fairy sized pale mauve flowers, poppy plants and love in a mist self seeded into a messy frenzy of new growth and sorcerers violet with its purple upside down bells.

I stop frequently on this short journey, to rest my foot and to appreciate the riotous scenery before me. Then I turn to the table and sit and stare at the plum coloured stains, mesmerised by this evidence of my blood, once eddying inside of me and now splatted on the paving slabs. I am reluctant to wash it away but can not define why. The lump of concrete that I injured my toe on has the same effect on me. I often stand at the kitchen door looking at it, trying to see which bit did the damage.

I imagine that I would do the same if I was within visiting distance of the place where my brother’s blood soaked into the highway as he died. The day I learned of his death was one that had begun with a birth. I had helped a woman birth her baby for the first time and was ecstatic, riding high on the endorphin rush of this magical experience, only to come down with a huge crash when the phone rang at 10pm. I forgot about the miracle of birth and booked plane tickets to travel home. I arrived in Canada, exhausted from 26 hours travelling in a hollow limbo.

This new reality was all wrong, for it did not include my brother who had shared some of the most momentous and life shaping experiences with me. He was the only person who could qualify the significance and authenticity of these shared experiences. My aunt collected me from the airport and we went directly to the funeral home where the rest of my family had gathered.

I hadn’t seen my brother for six years and in that time he had grown from lanky teenager to young man. I spent considerable time in the funeral parlor approaching his body by increments, drawn by the size of his hands and determined to see them close up; to make that my final image of him. It took me a long time, perhaps an hour, maybe more, but my family and the man who ran the place waited. He had grown to understand the importance of grieving process though many years of close association with it and even though it was late at night, he had stayed open waiting for my plane to arrive.

I was devastated but comforted by the nearness of the strong females in my family. I too share their inner strength and sheer determination to live life with joy when possible and grim acceptance when the former is not an option. When we got back to my aunt’s we grieved by laughing at happy memories of times we had shared together, looking through hundreds of pictures, drinking champagne and playing scrabble to relax and soothe our grief sodden brains. I am blessed with a weird but wonderful family.

The next day, 2 car loads of us drove to the spot where he was killed. The burgundy stain on the road was shockingly huge and with it’s portrayal of violent death, it was a complete contrast with the vibrant, abundant and lush foliage that grew along the sides of the highway. The scent of Cedar wood from the sawmills always accompanies this memory as if trying to purify the impact of the image. I remember feeling saddened to note that there was a restaurant with a deck facing the expanse of highway.

Anyone who had been innocently sat there would have been unfortunate enough to observe the moment the huge hay truck hit and killed my brother while he was working as a surveyor on that section of road. I say unfortunate for them as that memory will surely disturb them forever as it will my brother’s colleague who was working with him that day. I also can accept that the truck driver will be scarred for life. It all seems such a waste, it will never bring my brother back so why should they have to be punished by their memories of a man they did not share a life with?

Well I do digress which I’ll admit is not at all unusual! I started this post intending to have a moan about my sore toe which really hurts, especially at night. I long to be able to pull the covers over me and curl up into blissful episodes of healing sleep but the pressure of the covers on my foot is too uncomfortable. On reflection however, I am alive, and I am grateful for that… Tired, grumpy and in pain but grateful for this gift of life.

18 comments so far

  • Oh, DJ. I’m feeling for you. It’s a privilege to be allowed this insight into your life. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    I lost the nail on my big toe a few years back. Do you want the good or bad news first? Well, it grew back, but ever since it keeps falling off again. Yes, it hurts like hell every time. Poor you.

  • That is an amazing and stirring blog post.
    I’m a little shocked, as I had no idea it was going there… if you know what i mean!
    But incredibly moved.
    I hope writing about it gives you a sense of release.
    Mind you, i’m not sure i’d want one if i was in that position.

  • Oh barf… thanks for that news… I am already wondering if I will have to be medicaly retired due to this injury and now you’ve just gone and confirmed my greatest desire… ooops, I mean fear!

  • It was intended to be amazing and disturbing but I am happy to hear that it was amazing and stirring. It is all true and it has taken me years to heal enough to write this, still can’t vocalise it audibly though…Chopper does’nt mind, he has been there himself with his own loss of his mother at a young age (see postings in fullofbullshite in my blog links, I know you read him but you’ll have to search for that posting) and as for my mom well… if you read my hippie child blog you’ll understand what kind of caliber she is comprised of!

  • Thanks for sharing Dj.. I have dealt ith the loss of close friends, but I havent really loss a relative that I was close to. I was too young when most of my grandparents passed on so I think I was spared that grief, but I also lost out on getting to know them. It was unnerving to me to see my hubby lose both of his grandmothers within 2 years of each other and not knowing what to say to comfort him. I could only offer him comfort through touch and hoped it would be enough.

    I hope your toe is starting to feel better by now… a swig of vodka might do the trick! :o) ((HUG))

  • amazing, and blogging will do that to you. some of my most therapeutic moments, and best posts, were the ones that left the line of where i was headed and got away from me. this is incredible stuff.

  • Wait a mo..
    Chopper is your fella and he’s from Fullofbullshite and your mum has a blog too?
    I’m so not yet with it 😉
    I shall piece together the structure better!

  • Nooooo…. welll almost right I guess, yes to the first 2 and as for the 3rd, well I write another blog about my wild hippie childhood which you can access from my profile. I talk about my mom a lot in that blog though I guess that is obvious seeing as I’ve just told you it is a blog about my childhood! Go have a look, all will become clear…

  • I’m sorry to read about your brother — but happy for you that you can write about it now. Families are weird in times of grief. Life goes on as they say.


  • Thank you for commenting on my site, so i could find yours.

    Your writing so movingly about your brother really touched me. It was a priviledge to be all to share with you, for a moment in time that which will take you forever to come to terms with.

    My small broken heart of the moment doesn’t really doesn’t get off the starting blocks in relation to your lose.

    Although my list of lose is pretty impressive too!

    And thanks for your offer of even more fat, I’m going to be looking like Jordan at this rate!!:)

  • I too was surprised at where the start ended, but agree
    with DS about posts like this. Thank you for sharing.

    I was quite shocked that they left the blood on the highway… police round here carry water specifically for removing such traces.

    Near the beginning you wrote:

    my brother who had shared some of the most momentous and life shaping experiences with me. He was the only person who could qualify the significance and authenticity of these shared experiences.

    Was that something that hit you at the time, or only much later?

  • Hi BW, My brother and I were very close as children for various reasons and I knew instantly that his death removed the validation of significant parts of my life. In hindsight I can now say that in certain areas this has been beneficial, I had to let go of those things which continued to damage me simply by the shared remembering. That lone child inside me heals as life goes on, without my brother there to help shape it in his own ways and I can cope with the reality of his demise, but I sure do resent it! This is the first time I have ever externalised my feelings about this, I do wonder why I chose to do it in such a public way.

  • You truly have a gift of great writing which is obvious from the comments already posted. Medical retirement for a toe injury, dream on girl, you got a long way to go. It will heal with or without the nail. Think of this time off work as therapy, given how bad things were…..strange things somehow happen for a reason.

  • I came here to say ‘hi’ and write something funny.

    Now I’m fighting back tears.

    Thanks for dropping by my place. And thanks for this post, too. You write very well, DJ.

    I see you have a link to mine. Thanks, the favour will be returned.

    Meanwhile, got any soddin’ Kleenex..?


  • Hi Tippler! Sorry but I used all the kleenex wiritng this post. If you want a laugh go to my other blog (top of the links), it is a lighthearted look at my early years as a wild hippie child.

  • Will surely do that.

    Right now, am on magazine deadline and pulling my hair out. Big Blogger to keep up with too. Jeez.

    Anyway, have linked to here and will explore hippie stuff at my leisure (ish) next week!

  • Oh yeah about the BB thing… Chopper and I are enjoying the hilariousness that comprises Spanish Goth, yourself and her of the pencil holding breasts… too funny!

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