My brother the doctor, extra missed today


Today is my big brother David’s birthday. He would have turned 59, and would probably have been freaking out about being on the verge of 60, which I’m certain he would have considered O-L-D. Ironically, aging seems to be one of the only things he was afraid of.

It’s also Friday the 13th, and we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. David was a doctor, and doctors are doctors first, so he actually wouldn’t have dwelled on himself with all this going on. He would have had some really helpful tips, perspective, and knowledge — delivered along with his trademark steady calmness — which I miss extra right now.

Though I’ve written more about his athletic exploits, especially since they are what got him killed at 47, David was also an excellent radiologist. Like most physicians, he had a broad understanding and deep curiosity of all things having to do with illness and medicine.

We all used to call up Dr. Dave about a vast array of mysterious symptoms we or loved ones were experiencing: bad headaches, anxiety, pain in the leg. Most of them he assured us were nothing to worry about or he offered comforting solutions. But one time, he saved our mom a probable trip to the ER by his sudden alarmed response to hearing about red lines running up her arms; caused by a cat scratch, they were the sign of blood poisoning. And in his hands-on way, he also did nice helpful things like give each of his siblings assistance with stitches at some point.

So, if he were here, I would have just called up David and asked him about the coronavirus instead of doing what everyone is doing: reading terrifying news stories that keep coming closer to home, not knowing what to trust or what to do. David would have been concerned, but not afraid, and, above all, I think he would have been fascinated. He would have jumped right into learning about it, analyzing it scientifically, and providing his sympathetic assistance and assurance to me, or anyone.

I am entirely certain that, whatever he told me right now would have made me feel better. After patiently listening to my worries about the national state of emergency, I would have been able to hear him smile through the phone, and gently say, “Aw, Darlin,’ it’s going to be alright soon.”

If I focus, I can still hear David’s soft drawl in my head. Despite knowing whether it’s true, I am going to try to take thoughtful breaths and channel his calm by putting this on repeat for all of us, my new mantra:

Darlin,’ it’s going to be alright.

It’s going to be alright soon.


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