A few months had passed and I had taken on another pub, The Golden Lion, in Wellingborough, Northampton. Things were pretty good considering. Trade was sporadic but at least I had a job that I enjoyed. I had even started cooking again. Nothing special, just a sunday carvery.
I had just started the afternoon/late shift on the bar and trade was dire. We only had passing trade due to the location. Time seemed to be dragging and was considering closing early and go around the town.
All that changed when I received the phone call from my mum. Now normally when mum phones its just for a good chat. She would ask about business and I would ask about the family. This time around was different.
When I answered the phone I could tell that something was wrong by the tone in mum's voice. It was the tone of being upset.
"You had better sit down son. Its about Sean"
As soon as she had said that I felt weak. I knew that Sean had been in hospital just after New Year with a suspected heart attack but the doctors had given him the all clear just a few weeks previous.
"I have just received a call from Sarah, and she has let me know that your brother is dead!"
At that point it seemed that the world had just shrunk to a tiny ball. The shock of receiving the news hit me hard.
"He suffered a fatal heart attack whilst at the wheel."
I couldn't believe it. Sean was as fit as an ox. Apart from the scare earlier he seemed fine. I had spoken to him just a couple of days ago and he had said that the DVLA had given him the go ahead to resume driving.
Mum told me the details of how he had suffered a heart attack and that the drivers mate had taken the wheel and somehow managed to prevent a larger incident from happening.
I put the phone down after saying goodbye to mum and announced to the few customers we had, that the pub would be closed for the remainder of the night. I just could not face pretending to be happy for their sakes!
I closed up and called up to my partner and announced the bad news. I think at the time, the shock of finding out prevented me from letting it sink in.
We had arranged for Sean and his family to come up and see the new pub and now it would not happen.
I needed time to myself so I sat outside and just stared into space. I had just lost my only brother. I felt, and this sounds callous, angry at him for dying. Why did he have to leave us now? We had only just gotten back in contact.
The pain inside was unbearable and I turned to drink.
For the remainder of the night and even into the next morning, I drank myself stupid. On reflection now I know that it was not the best way to deal with such loss. I didn't know how to handle it.
When my grandma had passed away I had done the same. I guess it was just my way of blocking out the pain.
I sat there thinking about the good times that me and my brother enjoyed together over the years. The first pint he bought me, the travelling. All the good memories. I felt a smile creep onto my face but it was soon erased as the tears began to flow.
My mind kept going back to Boxing Day. The last day I saw him alive. My heart felt heavy as the realisation that I would never see him again hit home.
The tears kept flowing but the emotion had changed. I felt angry. Angry at the doctors for giving the all clear. Angry at the DVLA for giving him his licence back. I just wanted to fight the world. They, by proxy, had taken my brother away from me. A son from his mother. A father from his children.
The more I drank, the less I had control over myself. I looked around at the pub and just thought to myself that Sean could have had all this. I felt like I just wanted it to burn around me and take me with it.
Thankfully I was stopped by my partner who kept drilling the message into my head that Sean would not have wanted me to do it.
Another wave of emotion flooded my system and I collapsed on the floor, sobbing.
The next day after clearing a small portion of my head, I phoned my area manager and explained the events of the previous night. I told him that the pub would be closed on the day of his funeral but would be open the following day.