“My God my God why have you forsaken me “the words that Jesus spoke on the cross kept going through Michael’s mind like a broken record as he sat there in stunned shock staring at the coffin of his 12-year-old brother. There was very little in Michael’s life that meant more to him than his Catholic faith but he had never felt so tested. How could he accept the tragic death of his innocent twelve year old brother with the image of a loving God ?It was absurd to have a rational perspective or to reconcile the image of Donny splashing joyfully in the water with his young body lying still in a coffin.The hours of the steady stream of visitors at the funeral home did little to assuage his confusion. Statements like”Be strong and offer up your suffering for the souls in purgatory” were so ridiculous that he was tempted to sharply respond. However, he understood at some level that they were well-intentioned ,but they did not for a second help him. There was a moment when he almost lost his temper. One of his neighbors said”thank God you still have Danny” he flinched and thought how could anyone think it was a benefit rather that an unspeakable loss..He could feel the rage rising in him at that moment, but realized that it was merely the discomfort of the speaker.The more difficult challenge was dealing with the anger he felt within himself.
Michael had never experienced anger at so many levels. He was angry at the electrician for carelessly leaving electrical power in an area where people were swimming.He was angry that it took so long for the ambulance to arrive at the scene of the accident. He was even angry at God for taking his mother and adding a second burden .How could allowing Donny to die help his faith? He had accepted the first loss ,but this was beyond the pale of faith..All of these were targets for his anger, but most of all he was angry at himself.
The reverberating questions that prosecuted everything about that day were never ending.. Why had he decided to go to the bay instead of going to the beach?Why had swimming become a priority instead of throwing a football around on the beach in Belmar?. Why had he lost sight of Donny in the water? It was his responsibility to take care his brother , and he felt he failed miserably. Every waking moment he was inundated with every detail of that fateful day.
The next few days were a series of roller coaster emotions dealing with the funeral home, the burial mass and the torturous image of seeing his brother’s coffin placed in a grave. He had barely slept since that horrible day at the bay ,but despite his fragile state of mind somehow was able to spend hours talking with Danny about what it happened. After his mother’s death Danny had been relatively closed mouth about his feelings .Michael had made sustained attempts to get him to talk about what he was experiencing. He had no facile answers for Danny, but knew that somehow he to find ways to tap into the pain and confusion that he knew his brothers was experiencing.