When someone dies any language seems to fall short of the truth behind the words we choose. Sorry doesn’t seem to cut it, but anymore is just a variation on the same theme. Death is the cruelest inevitability, and despite its absolute certainty the reality of death is never easy to cope with or express sympathy for.

Last week my brothers wife, Kate, suffered a brain hemorrhage and died suddenly and unexpectedly. The couple had been married for little over two years. I was in Colorado when it happened.

When Pete emailed me and told me he had “some bad news” I assumed he was about to tell me that our grandmother had passed away. She’s an old lady suffering from emphysema, so as cruel as it might seem, I felt that she was most likely going to be the subject of the bad news he wanted to speak to me about. But then I picked up another email, written by Pete a few hours later in which he told me that Kate had died suddenly and would I please call him.

I scrabbled for my phone just as it began to ring. “Pete?” I answered. “No, it’s Will. Has your brother managed to reach you yet?” Confused and in a state of shock I said that he hadn’t and that I needed to call him. I correctly assumed that Pete had contacted my friend Will to find out how to get hold of me in the States. Moments later the phone rang again and this time it was my brother.

Yesterday was her memorial service. We had all hoped the weather would be kind on the day and give us some October sun, but in the end it was overcast and rainy. At one point in the service a KT Tunstall track called ‘Other side of the world’ was played. As it played I looked around the ancient church and at the large and colorful stained glass windows. For a moment I felt like this was an episode in some TV drama where life moves at TV speed and where characters come and go as quickly as Kate has. The words of the song echoed around the ancient church. “Can you help me? Can you let me go? And can you still love me, When you can’t see me anymore.” And as Pete wept I wished this wasn’t happening.

I didn’t know Kate as well as I thought I would. I live a long way from my family so I don’t often get a chance to see them. I figured I’d have more time to get to know her. She was my sister-in-law, so that meant I would have the rest of my life to learn who she was, there was no rush. I thought Kate would be there to grow old and wrinkled along side my brother and the rest of us until the days when we all stood in the company of death.

She’ll be forever beautiful now, locked in the image of the 38 year old woman she had become.

And now my attention is turned to my brother. I have no idea how he must be feeling nor any experience that will help me to be the support I want to be for him at this time. Instead all I have is the the fact that tonight and in these darkest of days for him, we are and will forever be… brothers. I’m hoping that will be enough.

Don’t wait written by my brother in Kate’s memory.