A Tribute to My Brother Tom

How true the words of Joni Mitchell’s song ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’.

One very short month ago (February 14th), I received a telephone call at 5:00 am from my brother, asking me to please take him to the hospital’s Emergency Room; he was having trouble breathing. I quickly dressed, got into my car and drove the 5 short miles to his house.

When I arrived, he was having a very hard time catching his breath. I asked if he had chest pains for I feared he was having a heart attack, “No, not at all” was his reply. I helped him to my car and off we drove to the hospital’s Emergency Room. Once at the hospital, they took him into the triage area, he wanted me by his side, so I sat at a chair next to him. He was then brought to a treatment room where breathing treatments were administered.

Next was an x-ray, when I came back into the room, he told me he saw the digital image of his lungs and “they looked cloudy”. He figured he had pneumonia. Next was a CT scan, according to the doctor, that revealed blood clots in his lungs. He was going to be admitted to the hospital for treatment for the blood clots. He told me to go home at 11:45, he would be fine and would text me with his room number when he was in the room.

At 3:11 in the afternoon, I received a text that he was in room 212. As I was putting on my shoes to leave for the hospital I received a telephone call from his doctor. Tom had been rushed to the ICU because he was in respiratory distress. The doctor did not agree with the Emergency Room doctor’s diagnosis of blood clots, this doctor’s diagnosis was NSIP which is a terminal auto-immune disease.

I arrived at the ICU within 20 minutes of speaking with the doctor to find my brother with a CPAP mask covering his nose and mouth. This CPAP mask was pumping 100% pure oxygen into Tom’s lungs. At that time he was able to draw up a legal Medical Power of Attorney for me but was not strong enough to write a living will or a Financial Power of Attorney. Tom did not have a will or any other documents giving anyone the tools to carry out his last wishes.

His condition continued to deteriorate, more and more of his lungs were being shut down by the scarring his body was producing. On Tuesday only three short days later, Tom had to be sedated to the point of unconsciousness – a choice I had to make. I wanted him to pull through, I wanted to give his body a chance to fight this horrific disease. By Thursday, February 19th, I knew I had to make a decision to order treatment stopped and to let my brother pass on.

After an x-ray showing his left lung was totally scarred and his right lung had only approximately 3 inches of unscarred tissue on Friday morning I agreed to having the oxygen removed and to let him go. It was the hardest decision of my life. I sat by his side holding his hand until he took his last breath and then for some time afterward.  I remained by his side, it was the very least I could do for my brother.

Since his death, I have learned from so many of his friends that he was so very proud of my accomplishments in life. Why is it that he never told me so?

I have learned his one desire was to go on a Camino with me, him in a horse-drawn carriage and me walking alongside. Again why didn’t he tell me of that desire? I could have made it happen while he was still alive, ah but would I have?

I have learned what a wonderful person he was when it came to helping his friends when they needed help. He helped me when I asked, why didn’t I appreciate his help, why did I just expect he should help me?

Part of the reason I moved from the New York Metropolitan Area was because my brother encouraged me to do so. Now I feel my purpose for being here has been played out.

I’ve learned a big lesson; yes it is so true, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone!

Rest in Peace my only brother, Thomas William Mourier, June 2, 1951 – February 20, 2015

21 responses to “A Tribute to My Brother Tom

  1. This is a lovely tribute, Arlene. He knows you care.

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  2. So, sorry to hear of your loss, my condolences to you. Dana

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  3. Very well written Arlene!

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  4. Tom was such a sweet man. He was so proud of you and loved you very much. So glad you here to be with him.
    Very nice tribute to him. R.I.P. Tom. You willed be missed.

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  5. Tom as easy to talk with and made the club meetings better. Neusa and I are very sorry for your loss, Arlene, and all of ours.

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  6. Lucia & Hugo Bozzolo

    Sorry for your lost, you were with your brother when he need you most.

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  7. I did not know your brother but if he displayed the loving and strong qualities as you do, he must have been a great brother, friend and companion to you. My heart breaks realizing your loss. Know you are loved.

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  8. Arlene
    We always take the ones we love for granted. We expect them to help and we also help just like you did by being by his side when he needed you in the hospital. This is a beautiful tribute. You went to Arizona to be with him and you did that till his last breath what a beautiful sister you are. Well done and I just want you to know I love you cuz xxxoo

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  9. I’m sorry to read of this difficult time, but it must be comforting that you were the person he called and you were able to help him during his last days. I expect you will be thinking of him on your next camino.

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  10. Angie Mitchell

    Grieving is such a tough call Arlene. Endings come without warning and without invitation. kisses and hugs, Angie

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  11. I am so sorry for your loss, Arlene. Losing an only brother is very tough. I lost my only brother, Mark, in October. This is a lovely tribute. You are in my thoughts at this difficult time. Hugs.

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  12. I am so sorry for you, Arlene.

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  13. mariethebasque

    Hi Arlène ,  

    I am very sorry for the loss of your brother and all the responsabilities you had to face, by yourself.
    You were very courageous, and did the best. No regrets about what could have been, you cannot know what would have happen. Maybe goodness or problems.

    Just focalised on your new life that seems very fun. Enjoy and love. Today. Maybe life would allow us to meet again.

    GROSSES BISES.
    MARIE

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  14. Nice remembrance. Know that Tom appreciated you and the things you did for him. Have peace in knowing you loved him and reached out to help.

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  15. Arlene,

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. May he rest in peace.

    Yes it is true. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Be thankful you could be there for him in his last days.

    A lovely tribute to your brother.

    Take care my friend.

    Elizabeth

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  16. Arlene,

    I am shocked and saddened to read this post. We spoke of him often and your relationship with him. Be grateful that you were there and able to share his final hours. Life moves on, and those of us left behind learn to move on with it and our memories.

    Hugs, Steve

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  17. SO sorry Arlene, you were wonderful to be at his side and make the difficult calls. God Bless you and your memories!
    Kathryn and Mike Schlesinger

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  18. Dear Arlene, what a heartfelt post. Just be grateful that you were able to be with your brother at the end. That alone, down the track, will help you coming to terms with your loss. I lost a brother 2 years ago and know a bit of what you’re going through. No matter what the circumstances, losing a sibling will always be hard. Take care of you now. Britta

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  19. I am so sorry Arlène. I am thinking of you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I will light a candle for you and your brother. Shele

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  20. I’ve been out of touch with you for a long time Arlene, and apologize. I just read your touching, sad, but also uplifting tribute to your brother! I am so so very sorry for your loss but what a blessing for him and yourself that you were there for him at the end and to learn how proud of you he was. True….why do we not talk more openly to one another when we should…it would have been nice to hear your brother speak of his pride in what you did, but at least you knew he was. It is a lesson we can all learn from,,, don’t keep our feelings inside, show them, speak them. You wrote a beautiful story of the ending of his life and I am so sorry for you my friend……remember you were the one he reached out, you were the one who was there for him at the end and allowed him to go on to his journey…..Love, Maggie

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    • Maggie,
      The words you speak are so thoughtful and soothing, thank you.

      Arlène
      PS – check out choosehappinessadventures.com, that is my tour website.

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