My brother Wayne, who died twenty-one years ago in a road accident, would have been sixty today. There would have been some kind of family gathering in celebration of 'the senior man of the family' reaching this milestone age. I dare say he and I would find a long quiet moment together, to reflect on what had happened during those six decades, where both of us were now, and whither we were bound. A Janus moment. A moment to look back, and look forward, to take stock, and possibly make important decisions.
I can imagine sitting together and pondering past hopes, what had actually been achieved, which illusions had been lost, which dreams remained. Wayne was always much more of an idealist and visionary than I was; I would expect him to have had greater expectations, and to have suffered correspondingly greater disappointments. Would he have lost the faith he once had, in the light of experience? Would he have surprised me, declaring that he had abandoned all spiritual belief and now wanted to live (as I did) on the basis that his days of consciousness and self-awareness were strictly limited to the span of his lifetime? And that consequently all opportunities to live well should be seized and not squandered - 'well' including not just reasonable self-indulgence, but being a steadfast and caring person whose actions and example might inspire, or at least make a difference.
What I can't so easily imagine is what Wayne would look like, and how his voice might sound. Twenty-one years would have brought about many changes. But then, if he were still alive, he would see changes in me too. Not many people resemble how they were twenty-one years ago.
Wayne was younger than me by almost four years. I had no other brother, and no sisters. So for a long time past I have been in an only-child's position. Once Wayne was killed, he was gone forever: I never felt him as an ongoing unseen presence, watching over me, hopefully as an ally in all I attempted. I do however cherish the notion that if he were still alive we would be close, seeing each other often, cooperating, sharing a good joke together, each there for the other if need be. I would love him to be still in this world, hopefully as the grand person he might have been; but even if he had become an embittered cynic. Anything is better than no brother at all.
The reality - life with only me in it, and no celebration today, no quiet moment of profound reflection between younger brother and older sister - has to be faced, and with cheerfulness and a stout heart. Wayne was, but is not now. He fell by the wayside, and can't complete the journey. I may sigh, but the only thing to do is to walk on and get there by myself.
And where is 'there'? What lies ahead? Whatever it is, there is no point in being afraid.