My Brother-in-law, My Friend…or is it the other way around?

August 21, 2013

My Running

I wrote this blog on August 3, 2013. But I haven’t posted it. I don’t know why. I just haven’t. But I also haven’t run like I was and I don’t know if it has anything to do with this. So I’m going to post and get this out and get back to running. I’m supposed to be training for an upcoming half marathon—and my training has been lacking. My brother in law died, and it just seems like life went on pause. And I don’t want to push the play button. Grief is an odd thing. Grief from my divorce made me turn to running. Grief from Fred’s death is keeping me from it. I know without a doubt that Fred is in a better place.

Without a doubt.

Back in 1992 I lost my best friend to cancer. I was 24 years old and she was 25. Too young to die. But she did. She went on a short trip to San Francisco, where she met Fred. The man she fell in love with who fell in love back. She married Fred in 1987. And then I married Fred’s brother in 1988. And that’s how Fred became my brother-in-law. He was my friend before he was my brother-in-law.

We spent almost every weekend together. The four of us. Drinking and going out to bars. And laughing our ass off the day after about what we had said or done in our drunken state. Every weekend. And Friday after work either we would be in their home or they’d be in ours. We drank. We laughed. And we loved. Because laughing together IS loving. It’s the best kind of love.

Fred remarried after Anita died. And he married a loyal woman (Lucy) who loved him with everything she had. (Because when you know someone like Fred—that’s how you love him. With everything you got.) And he loved her right back. Our lives began to go separate ways, raising kids and getting busy with where we were planted. But the connection was never lost. And I had a connection with Fred. One that I don’t want to describe.

I never imagined that when Fred and I went to Anita’s chemo treatments, radiations, and doctor appointments that he would be fighting that same fight 20 years later. He was diagnosed last year. And his cancer was aggressive. I fucking HATE cancer.

He lost his fight this morning. I am home and I’m doing laundry. I’m doing loads in between spurts of crying. How can the sun possibly still shine? How can people possibly continue with their day? I look out my window and I see people walking their dogs. Riding bikes. Running. Walking. Driving. Talking. People look at me and just see a woman carrying her laundry out to the washer. A lady who’s doing Saturday chores. They have no idea.

No idea that I can’t type this without crying. No idea that my heart is so heavy. No idea that my mind is spinning a hundred miles an hour playing a slideshow in my brain. Flashes of memories. The time Fred came into the kitchen when I was cooking to see what we were going to have for dinner. The time Fred looked at me when the doctor said Anita’s cancer didn’t look good. The time Fred head butted Tucker. The time he dared me to drink him under the table; it couldn’t be done, he said. It was done!! All those “mornings after”. All the laughter. The phone conversations I had with him over the past year.

He kept getting sicker. Thinner. The strongest man I’ve ever known—becoming weak. It was so hard to watch. But he could talk forever on the phone. About anything!!!

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I played pandora and put it on an Oingo Boingo station. And it played all the music that we played during our drinking days. And I had Fred here in my livingroom through the music that was playing. I went to bed and tossed and turned. I fell asleep to the music. And I had a dream.

We were somewhere, I don’t know where. Open space. Not a field. Just an open space. And I was standing on a long long sidewalk. And Fred was there. He was young Fred. He was getting into a van. Like a patty wagon type van. It was all white, shiney white, with white wheels….and before he got in, he looked at me and he smiled. And then he waved. After he waved he got inside and the patty wagon took off like a cartoon. You know how cartoon cars tilt from side to side and fishtail when they take off fast?? And then he was gone. And I stood there and watched it leave. Watched Fred leave…..

I woke up and thought “oh no. What did that mean. Do I have a message on my phone?” I picked up my phone. Nothing. No messages. No missed calls. It was 7:45am.

At 8am Dawn (his sister) called to tell me Fred had passed. And five minutes after that, his brother (my ex) texted to tell me his brother had died 20 minutes prior. Which would have been 7:45 when I woke from that dream.

Fred came to tell me goodbye. He waved to me. And he left.

I have never in my life experienced anything remotely similar. I’ve lost my best friend. My grandparents. An aunt. A sponsor. Friends. But none have come to me in a dream.

I believe with all my heart that Fred came to tell me goodbye. He knew. He knew how much I love him. He knew. He couldn’t leave without saying bye.

I spent 4 days last week with him. I laid next to him on his bed. I kept holding his hand. I kept telling him he wasn’t getting rid of me. I kept telling him I loved him.

How can something that is inevitable hurt so much. People die. Slowly or suddenly. And we are left with a hole. An empty space. A broken heart. An absence that is felt. And we all know this is what happens. Dying is part of living. It’s just the process of life. And we all know it. So why does it have to hurt so much. Why does it have to make us feel so empty?


I will always love you with all my heart. I will always be grateful for the laughter you gave me. I’m sorry you had to leave so early. I will never ever forget you. For as long as I live. At least I know when it’s my turn–you’re already there waiting for me. Lets have kamikaze’s again when I get there. And beat up blondes again. And we will keep getting kicked out wherever we end up. Just like the old days!!

Thank you for coming to say goodbye. I will tell everyone that you are okay. That you looked good in my dream. That you looked happy. I will tell them, Fred. I promise.

Love, Renee

The sun shines today. My stomach feels like its going to be sick. But the sun shines. Fred came to say good bye.

He smiled when he waved.

He was telling me he was okay.

(insert a million tears here)

Goodbye Fred.

The strongest man I ever knew….







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About rsouleret

I am a mother of two beautiful girls. I work full time. And I run. ILML.

View all posts by rsouleret


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