• Liz Shemwell

I'll Always Have a Brother


Today is National Siblings Day.


The second worst moment of my life was telling my 7-year-old that his brother was not going to survive. I’ll never forget that moment and I’ll spare you the heartbreaking details. After the initial shock wore off, Maximo - sitting in my lap with tears streaming down his face - grabbed a Reese Cup from the table and held it in his hand. When I asked what he was going to do with it, he began sobbing. He told us that he planned to give it to Marco when we left the hospital together, never imagining that Marco would not come home, and showing us as he so often did, a brother's love.


Having Maximo and Marco 3 years apart was thoughtfully planned, intentional, and a wonderful blessing. We hoped they would grow up best friends, buddies for life. Both have late summer birthdays, so even the decision of when one would start kindergarten was coordinated with other. Three years meant 3 grades, which meant a year of high school and college together. So many plans. So many wishes. Gone in a matter of seconds.


Our grief for Marco is overwhelming at times. And, when you lose someone you deeply love, the grief is not only for the person. It is multiplied by so much more. Everything changes. We mourn the loss of life as we know it. We grieve for what we hoped of Marco’s future, the future we hoped for Maximo, and their futures together as brothers. We grieve for Maximo’s innocence and the childhood he should have had with his brother. We mourn the loss of our family of 4, our plans, and the way we thought things were supposed to be.

A few weeks after Maximo returned to school, a classmate saw a picture of him with a friend and asked if the other person was his brother. With good intentions, another classmate said that Maximo didn’t have a brother anymore, to which Maximo responded without hesitation, “I’ll always have a brother.”


This sign that defines “brother” hangs in our upstairs hallway between the boys’ bedrooms. Although it is sometimes a painful memory of what we’ve lost, it is much more than that. It is also a beautiful reminder of the love between brothers that never dies.


Marco Shemwell Foundation

To bring hope, comfort, and healing by creating Marco Moments that leave ripples of positive change.

Email: liz.shemwell@marcoshemwellfoundation.org​

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