Requiem for My Brother

Requiem for My Brother

by Marian Botsford Fraser

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In 1992, Marian Botsford Fraser’s brother Dave was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Eight years later, as he struggled with increasing disability, he discovered that he had melanoma, which quickly metastasized. In this poignant memoir, Botsford Fraser describes her brother’s illness and death, their deepening relationship after years spent apart, her role as his caregiver in the final months of his life, and, finally, the curious mix of sorrow and soaring she felt in the hour of his death. In vivid detail, she recounts how, as adults, they forged an enduring bond when they took a canoe trip along the Coppermine River, battling numbness of mind and muscle and surviving a plunge through the rapids in a rock-filled gorge. Most of all, she remembers Dave — his pain and frustration, his passivity and pride, and his sudden lightness and humor. This book is her tribute to him.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781926812236
Publisher: Greystone Books
Publication date: 01/01/2007
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 232
File size: 898 KB

About the Author

Marian Botsford Fraser is a freelance writer, broadcaster, and critic whose work has appeared in Granta, Walrus, The Globe and Mail, and Toronto Life. She is the author of Solitaire: The Intimate Lives of Single Women and Walking the Line:Travels along the Canadian/American Border. She is a long-time contributor to CBC Radio’s Ideas program and has served as a guest host for various CBC Radio programs. She lives in Stratford, Ontario.

Read an Excerpt

“I don’t think your brother is long for this world . . .”

We were in Emergency at St. Mike’s; it was a serene night, few other patients, few people milling around, all the activity behind closed curtains. The ER doctor’s gentle, simple words: I don’t think your brother is long for this world. I remember, over and over, the sharp curve of Dave’s cheekbone against mine as I murmured into his ear, and the wetness of his cheek and the dryness of his hand in mine, and his mouth turning away from the oxygen mask until I asked that it be removed, his breathing harsh and gasping, then quieting, then separating, with pieces of silence between breaths, and his eyes still, pupils enlarged by morphine, my hand stroking his hair so recently cropped into a little boy haircut by Sara, his ridiculous neck pillow on the bones of his shoulders.

I want to understand that curious mix of sorrow and soaring that I felt in the hour, although it seemed much, much shorter, leading to Dave’s death. I was conscious of so many things: his breathing most of all, his physical aspect, the monitor, the tubes, the discreet intervention of a nurse then the doctor unhooking the paraphernalia, and then just the three of us: Sara’s bowed head, the Kleenex boxes, the mingling of tears that flowed unchecked down all our faces. The sound first of my voice and then of hers, a rush of the memories we knew would touch him most deeply, pouring from us both, like a litany, a jubilate.

. . . the Coppermine . . . the summer house . . . Antarctica . . .

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Bless This House
Chapter 2: Paddle to the Sea
Chapter 3: The Summerhouse Years
Chapter 4: Dave at Sea
Chapter 5: The Shadow-Stalker
Chapter 6: A Shadow in Shadowland

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