My younger brother Wayne, had he lived, would have been aged 55 today. He was killed in a lunchtime car crash just before Christmas 1995, caused by two other drivers. One, in a hurry, edged out into a main road - it was the dead-straight A3 south of Hindhead - and that caused a second driver to swerve, lose control, and spin into Wayne's car. Wayne died of head injuries.
He was taking presents down to Mum and Dad, then living in Liphook, and he was nearly at the end of his journey. He would be alive now, if he'd stopped for a break, or to make a call, or the traffic lights up the road at Hindhead had held him up. But of course you must never think of what might have been.
Dad viewed the body. I never did. I don't think my parents ever recovered from the devastation they felt. It was the only time I ever saw my father break down and cry. I felt I had to be 'strong' for both of them, and never allowed myself to give in to grief. I so regret that. I can't do it now. It must forever be one of those hurts that you live with, with no closure. We all have them. I've buried - well, cremated - Mum and Dad; and although I miss them, they died in 'natural' ways, basically of old age, and had long lives in which most of their ambitions were fulfilled. But Wayne was cut off when still under 40, when he was on the threshold of so much.
I had no other brother, and no sister, and so I've lost all my immediate family. I feel exposed and without any kind of safety net or close support. This said, other members of my family - my sister in law, my niece, my nephew, one of my cousins, and my aunt and her family - have been absolutely wonderful to me. But I desperately miss my brother. He should be here for me. And I for him. But it is not to be; and I'll just have to face the cold wind of old age alone, and get on with it, as indeed so many must.
Wayne had his moody and argumentative teenage phase, and was inclined to irritability as he got older (as I was) but mostly he was chirpy, with a droll sense of humour. Here are some pictures - mostly taken by me - which show him at various stages of his life.
I always thought Wayne had a strong physical presence - quite unlike myself. He kept himself fit, and he wasn't coy about showing off his body, although diabetes was a constant background concern. He took insulin, and ate carefully. But diabetes didn't carry him off. It was blind chance.