Between January 2 and 3, there was a space of about 22 hours when I didn't know. I was blissfully unaware of the fact. But, being unaware, was I really in a state of bliss? If you'd asked me---in my pre-knowing state---"Are you blissful?" I would have snorted. "What? Are you trying to accuse me of ignorance?" You would have chuckled.
I would have served you coffee. We would have chatted, and I would have told you my grand plans for the coming New Year. Some of my hopes would have included him.
"I'm going to uncork my courage and talk to him about his drinking," I would have told you. "I want to prod him out of his apathy and get him drawing again." I would sip my coffee, thinking. "I want to have a deeper and more meaningful friendship with my brother."
"When will you do all this?" you would ask, adding two lumps and a splash of cream.
My heart would flutter; my palms would sweat. "Maybe this week."
Then we would drink our coffees, dreaming of our big plans in those last 45 seconds before my 22 hours were up. But the phone would ring. The news would be delivered: "Your brother died about this time yesterday."
Hindsight is 20/20: Ignorance was bliss.
All my future chances--my "next weeks"--to talk to my brother are gone. Forever.
But there are other beating hearts I love, other encouragement I can offer, and maybe even a lovingly applied kick-in-the-pants or two.
I should act now and be afraid later.