THRICE Fiction Apr. 2014 - Page 24

From: Thomas, Hector Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 9:10 AM To: Harrigan, Julia Subject: My Brother Dear Julia: My older brother died unexpectedly last week. He lived in Albuquerque. I hadn’t even realized he was ill. The first I learned he was sick was an e-mail from my mother on Friday saying he was in the hospital with kidney failure, on dialysis. Then she called Saturday evening to tell me he died. Multi-organ failure. My mother and his wife both mentioned a “deep infection,” but Sally chose not to have an autopsy, so we’ll never know what it really was. Cancer? Like our father? I don’t know; the information could have been helpful to me or their kids, who after all share the same genes. Ben was cremated. Sally was Catholic, and Ben was after his fashion, though he hadn’t converted. It was the first time I’d gone to a mass. There was a huge emphasis on life-after-death, described variously as “in Jesus” and “in love.” I wasn’t sure if this was just to comfort Sally and my mother and the kids, or if they always hold out that promise as a centerpiece of the service. There was a huge writhing Jesus on a cross on the wall in front, looking down on us. Next day I got on the plane back to Baltimore. Funny thing is, I had to fly to Detroit first and then get a flight back to Chicago, to get one to Baltimore. My flight into Chicago, from Detroit, skidded down the runway and when finally it stopped, all the passengers appl