Health & Medical

A gentle reminder

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Every day, I’m reminded my favourite mug doesn’t belong to me. It’s an unusual ceramic mug with pebble white and swathes of blue.

A square rim. A stamp with my brother’s name on it: Dan. Its beauty makes me smile; its meaning makes me sad. My brother had schizophrenia and died four years ago.

When we cleaned out his apartment, I was amazed at how few of his things were worth keeping. The technology he was so proud of lost its value instantly, even items nearly new. We had to give his beloved cats to a shelter. His fancy bike was sold. Battered kitchenware and worn clothes were of little interest to anyone.

His greatest asset and legacy was his music. He was primarily a jazz musician, but his compositions could span classical, pop, rap and genres of his own invention, like space reggae. But we couldn’t find all of his recordings. For all I know, they are in the cloud somewhere, or he may have destroyed them. The few recordings I have are sometimes too painful to listen to.

But the mug: the mug is beautiful. It was made for him by a family member, and I have no bittersweet memories tied to it. I had my own mug made for me but broke it long ago.

The mug is unusual like Danny — whoever heard of a square rim? But it’s also simple. Danny was a complicated man and we had a complicated relationship. When he was well, he was kind, witty and talented. When he was sick, he could be uncommunicative, angry or irrational. Our family was always standing on the edge of drama or falling.

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The mug doesn’t make me think of these things. The mug is just a companion to my morning coffee. The mug is a gentle reminder; Danny was here. He was loved.

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