Saturday, 13 June 2009

My Brother

As I am preparing for a weekend as Emma with my wife, I cast my mind back to this very day 28 years ago, Saturday the 13th June 1981 when I had the unpleasant task of signing the authorisation papers to switch my brother’s life support machine off.

You see it all the time on hospital drama’s like Holby City etc but I have never really seen the recreation of the sort of emotions you feel in reality when presented with such a task.

My brother was 19 years old and I was 23, my father was with me but couldn’t sign the papers, my mum deliberately had stayed away from Bangor hospital preferring to remember my brother how he was.

For those of you old enough, it was the Saturday that a nutter fired a starting gun at the Queen as she was trooping the colours.

He was at the end of his first year at Bangor studying Plant Genetics and was only still there because he was to attend one final field trip the following week. In the meantime I was studying for my degree finals which were to start two weeks later.

It seems that Friday lunchtime, he was cycling with his mate to the pub for a drink and a game of darts (he had been practising so that he could beat me when he came home for the summer – my brother was very competitive and could never accept losing!) when they were free wheeling down a steep hill in Tregarth (where my brother had his digs), it seems they touched handlebars near the bottom of the hill and my brother hit a wall and then went head first into a disused railway bridge stone abutment. His friend ended up with a broken wrist and collar bone whilst my brother crushed the top of his head in (it was before the days that cycle helmets were worn)

Within 20 minutes he was at Bangor and operated on however the damage had been done. I remember speaking to the surgeon who operated to try and save his life and he explained that in 30 years, he had never seen such a serious head injury. We were informed that he was clinically dead within seconds of hitting the stone wall.

Anyway, time moves on and I refuse to dwell on what has happened, although not a week goes by without me thinking “There but for the grace of God go I” there are a lot of people out there far worse off than I and so tonight I will quietly remember a younger brother who I never got to know properly, for an uncle my daughters never had, for never having nephews and nieces to buy Christmas presents for, for a life extinguished before it had time to flourish.

You have to live life today because who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Good Night God Bless Stuart.


  1. Dear Emma, what a beautiful eulogy you have written to what must have been a truly traumatic and awful experience. My heart goes out to you.
    Until we meet again

  2. I'm sorry for your loss. It's difficult to find the right words to describe those moments...

    But... you think about the happy times rather than the end. I find that helps.

    Take care