We were there in the house when he died.
I was in the next room, frozen, eyes wide after hearing my brother Tim call for my parents. Early morning light was pouring through the shutters onto the couch I'd spent the past few nights on. I was surprised at the sharp feeling in my stomach, my racing heart. The buildup to that inevitable minute hadn't actually prepared me one bit, it seemed.
I blinked a few times and was finally able to move. I walked the ten or so steps into the room where the rest of my family stood in a circle around the simple hospital bed that supported my brother. I understood. Immediately.
After a time, we were able to leave him as he was: impossibly still under stark white sheets in that softly-lit room. We left the door open.