“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”
This is the post I don’t want to write. I can feel the tears start just thinking losing my brother from another mother. I’ve locked this away for over two years now. And now it’s time. I have to write about Hank Butzel. Most people knew Hank as a pilot. He flew hang gliders, prop planes, sail planes, you name it. If it could fly, he’d probably flown it.
I didn’t know him as a pilot. I’m not part of that community, and I’ve never flown in anything except a commercial jet. I only knew Hank as my brother.
Hank Butzel Was My Brother from Another Mother
Of course, he wasn’t really my brother. I’m an only child, and Hank had a sister from his own family. But he was one of those people who just “got” me in a way few can — and even fewer ever will. He was the older brother I never had, one of those “soul siblings” who seems to already know you without you ever opening your mouth. Do you know what I’m talking about?
We were instantly close, and we had so much in common, particularly anxiety, depression, difficulties in intimate relationships, and a sarcastic, twisted sense of humor. Hank was a sensitive, gentle soul. They tell me I am too, but it’s hard for me to see it. Except I could see it in Hank, and I cherished it beyond words.
And then he was gone. Hank was killed in a flying accident in Idaho on August 18, 2011. I’d known him less than a year.
Although I didn’t realize it then, his death marked the beginning of a personal unraveling that’s still in progress. Hank’s passing was the start of my own mid-life crisis, that point in your life where you lose/question everything you were living for, and wonder if you’ll find anything ELSE worth living for – ever again.
Everything’s changed in the last two years. Relationship, career, living situation – it’s all in a state of flux. Everything is fluid. Nothing feels solid. Whatever life I had before is over. I’m given over entirely to this new life of grief, loss and possible re-birth that I don’t understand, hoping it will somehow lead me back to the world of solid things. I suspect, though, that whatever’s at the end of this tumultuous trail is beyond my understanding.
The only thing I know for sure is, time will tell. I just wish I could talk it over with Hank. My brother from another mother would have understood.