My heart is as broken as it will ever be. My oldest brother, Matthew Wargas, has died after a 21-month war with brain cancer. He slowly stopped breathing as he was surrounded by his closest family and friends — in many ways the most beautiful way to go, but also the most haunting for those who remain.
There are two components of this tragedy I’ll won’t soon get over. The first is that I’ll never see my brother again, which fact has led to some bizarre calculations in my mind. For instance, if I live to age 80, a bit more than the average male life expectancy in the United States, I will have gone nearly half a century without seeing Matt. (How will I feel about him then? Will I remember his voice?) And from now until that time, I will have lived far longer without him in my life than when he was in it.
The second component is the sense of injustice: how a 38-year-old man, a decorated police officer and the kind father of three small children, was robbed of everything he had earned through his superior virtue and character. It all changed so suddenly, and one of the tortures of losing a family member to cancer is recalling how enchantedly unaware you were, before your loved one’s diagnosis, of how little time he actually had left. When I put it in these terms, the sadness is so overwhelming I feel physically constrained by it, to the point of claustrophobia as I lie awake these past few nights.
I am comforted by how bravely he fought, and how steadfastly he resisted giving in to bitterness and resentment. But if I am to be honest, I must admit this is only a small comfort.
As time goes on, I shall be writing more about my brother. For now, I’ll just echo what Nehru said after the death of Gandhi: “the light has gone out of our lives.”
Matthew R. Wargas, January 16, 1978 – August 12, 2016