Hi. I’m Anna. I live in Florida with my husband Danny and my daughter Zoey.

I’m sure in time there will be many reasons I maintain a blog — for writing experience, to share Zoey stories, etc. But my main purpose for starting it is so I can see how my spirit evolves over the next year or two, and have a safe place to unload whatever occupies my brain at any given time.

This evolution is already underway. “Face forward” is how I plan to deal with the death of my little brother, Mikey. The only way to deal with grief is to go through it, and outlast it. So you have to face foward, and move. You can drag your baggage with you; you can open it all up and wallow in it when you need to; but ultimately you have to repack it and keep moving forward. And eventually you emerge from the tunnel, and into the light.

Mikey passed away very suddenly on Feb. 2, 2006. He was only 22 and was like a bolt of lightning — bright, brilliant and left no one he touched unchanged. I was 8 when he was born, and he was the best, and funniest, person I’ve ever known. He was all about humor, love and life. It sounds cliche’d. You would not think so, though, if you were fortunate enough to know him.

On Feb. 1, he went to the emergency room with difficulty breathing. He’d had what we all assumed was a cold for just a few days, and that morning he had a fever and low blood oxygen. I was at work, 40 minutes or so away, when the first call came from my mother at about 8:30 a.m. She reported that Mikey was on his way to the ER in an ambulance after our family physician called for one. She was going to meet them there. She said not to come running, that he probably had pneumonia and that she would keep me posted. Over the next couple of hours, I heard from her every 20-30 minutes or so, and I could hear the panic rising in her voice with each call. He has double pneumonia. He is not coming home tonight and may end up in the ICU. I finally left at about 11 when she called to say he was going under general anesthesia — knocked out, or in my mother’s choice of words, “paralyzed” — so he could be placed on a respirator. He was struggling so much to breathe that the only way for him to get any rest was to let a machine do it for him. I stopped whatever I was doing — I have no idea what it was — and I left for the hospital.

When I got there, I found my parents, my husband and a family friend in a waiting area outside the ER. The news was not good, but the gravity of it was lost on me. When I went back to see him, the curtain was drawn. I couldn’t handle the sound of the respirator. I left.

At some point around then, give or take, he was diagnosed with the flu. Scary as it was, that sounded treatable. A handsome 22-year-old guy in great shape does not die of the flu. They moved him up to the ICU sometime in early afternoon. The news got increasingly worse. His temperature skyrocketed, at one point reaching 106.7. His blood pressure tanked. There were other things too, I can’t remember it all. They asked us repeatedly what he might have been exposed to, and we couldn’t think of a single thing. That evening they told us we were losing him, and we should say goodbye. A few at a time, we did — my parents, me, my brother’s roommate, my husband, aunts, uncles, cousins.

He never left the ICU, he never came off the respirator, he never woke up. The next morning, just a little over 24 hours after coming to the ER, my little brother’s big, beautiful heart stopped beating.

So this is why I’m here on wordpress: to unload my thoughts as they come to me, and to record my thoughts and memories of Mikey as they occur to me, so I can gather them all up later.

Thanks for reading.