I want my brother back…

The story and
The lesson

“I want my brother back!” was the painful cry emitted from my dear friend the day we heard. I looked at him in shock. He and David were not blood related, but they were that close. I watched as the strongest person I know broke down in front of my eyes.

The day was April 2, 2003, and it had started like any other day. I stood silently by my friends at the ROTC table, and watched them all talk animatedly. I heard over on my side someone say something about one of the kids I knew, David Vachon. I turned around and asked what they had said.

“He died.”


My voice was not the only one to utter that. I turned and saw several of my friends looking at the small conversation held. I watched two of them make a dash for the office to find out if it was true.

It’s a sick, belated April Fools joke.

It’s not real. It can’t be”

“Not again.”

When the confirmation came back, tears flowed freely. He had died of an asthma attack, a simple allergic reaction. I watched in aghast as people I’ve never seen cry before broke into a thousand pieces. I did the best I could to consol each of them without leaving anyone alone for a moment. I ignored my own emotions in order to help my friends. There was nothing I could do to help David now, but I kept trying to help the people who were left.

Somehow we managed to carry the mass of us down to the guidance office. I held these people, my friends, together the best I could with hugs and love. I knew it wasn’t a lot, but it was everything I had to offer to them.

Soon I looked at that man’s face. This strong friend of mine, who had saved me from myself, was now on the brink of a breakdown. He looked up and shook his head, No, it isn’t right. No it isn’t fair. I can’t change it, but I’m here. I thought. He looked at me, tears still freshly running down his cheeks. He spoke softly “He was my brother, Jen.” I nodded. He looked up to the sky as if to ask God a question and cried, “I want my brother back.” I wrapped him in my arms and whispered, “I know.” I looked at him and brought his face up. I told him “You know he loved you, and he knows you loved him. What matters right now is that we all love you, I love you, and we’re all here for you.”

We all sat in a circle and talked. Every one of us shared our thoughts…

“Don’t ever stay mad at anyone, you never know when you won’t get a chance to say your sorry.”

We can’t replace what we lost here today, but we also can never forget either.”

He’s laughing at us saying ‘what a bunch of babies. Look at them, I’ve got them all crying.’ and he’s smiling at each of us.”

That day ended, and we all made it through. That weekend was the funeral. I sat in the uncomfortable seat at the service, feeling as if I didn’t belong, as if I didn’t deserve to be there. I stayed only because of two things, the first being my mother’s car was grid locked into the funeral precession and the second being that that same boy, his brother, looked at me and managed a small smile. Only then did I know why I was there; for my friends.


Look at what is written and apply it. It is not just a story, for that would tarnish David’s memory. This is more. The lessons we all learned will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Don’t wait until you lose someone to learn them, and live them. We will never be the same again.

In loving memory
David Vachon
April 8, 1985 - April 1,2003