My Brother, My Friend
In 2003 Claire's brother Andrew was involved in a road traffic collision, he suffered serious injuries from which he never recovered. Here she shares her story as a sibling and questions second chances.
Andrew was more than just a brother to me. As social misfits, not getting along with family or other kids at school, we had a strong bond. He wasn't perfect, we had our quarrels, but he accepted me completely as I was, despite my Asperger's. Unfortunately, Andrew had one big weakness: his car. Like so many young men before him, he thought he was different to others, that he was somehow invincible behind the wheel. Sadly, he was to be proven wrong, not once, but twice.
In 2002, Andrew had his first collision. At a junction, not looking right as he pulled out, an oncoming car slammed into him. He suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung and his neck was cut from beneath his right ear, half way around to under his chin. You would really hope that he had learned his lesson from this, but no, because the following year, almost exactly 12 months later, Andrew was in a second collision. This time there would be no second chance. He was speeding down a country lane in Lancashire. Because of his speed, he was heading for a collision with the car in front of him. Swerving right on a blind bend, into the oncoming traffic, he collided with a 4x4 which impacted his passenger door. Andrew felt the full force of this and was pulled out of the car by fire crews, unconscious. A week later, in intensive care, he died without having regained consciousness. It was 6 months before his 21st birthday.
The worst thing was, I never got to say goodbye. I remember seeing him off that morning when he was on his way to drop off his girlfriend at her home. I thank God she wasn't in that car at the fatal moment. I am pleased that he and I shared a friendly cheerio before he set off. That gives me comfort, unlike for my father, who was on bad terms with Andrew at the time. It haunts him to this day. It tore him apart. People seem to forget it seems, the impact on siblings. I understand completely how parents suffer, but siblings do too. There were just 15 months between us, so he was with me almost my entire life, something which parents cannot attest to. Sibling relationships are different to that of parent and child, but no less valid and certainly, I don't think, the pain of grief is any less for them.
Andrew gambled with his life twice. Why, why for crying out loud, didn't he take the second chance at life that fate offered him? It's over for Andrew now, but for those left behind it is a pain that will never completely heal.
I lost a very special friend that day. No one can ever replace him.