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In Memory of a Great Brother

March 2006 Anniversary

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Eye Donation Speech - Oct 30th, 2005
March Anniversary
In Memorial

Your Impact on My Life

Another year has passed us by. They say time heals all, but I think in reality it just dulls the pain a little.

I constantly find myself in different stages of grieving. I know there are five of them, but I think if you ask anyone, they’ll say they bounce back and forth throughout randomly experiencing each one. The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Well, yes, I can safely say I’ve hit them all several times and I continue to do so throughout the year. It feels like I spent the first year just waiting for Nate to come home. I can still picture everything about him so clearly that I don’t always believe he is gone. One day I will conquer all of these stages, but I’m not sure when that time will come.

Almost exactly a month ago I started the grieving process all over again with my husband. We lost his father after suffering from pneumonia. While I am not in the denial stage of his passing, I am definitely in a depression stage as things happen daily that my husband and I would love to pick up the phone and tell him about. We use to fight over who could call him first and share some silly story about the kids. And he would laugh as if he was right here watching it happen with us. Such genuine excitement is rare, and you always felt important when you were with him.

In fact, if it were not for him, my husband and I would not be together today. When we were dating my husband wanted to call it quits. He said I followed him around like a puppy dog! His dad said, "Just invite her over, get to know her a little. She’s leaving for college soon, maybe she’ll go down a different path."

I’m not sure if he foresaw the outcome of our marriage and two little grandchildren or if he truly thought I would leave his son alone and move on to someone else! Either way, he never made me feel unimportant or unaccepted and I appreciated that. We always loved his conversations that might have had a little hint of advice in them, but you could never tell. He let you find your own way and was thrilled at your accomplishments. I must confess there was one piece of advice of his I turned down: he wanted us to name our son Joey. I don’t know where that came from. Maybe he was a huge fan of Friends?!

His gestures of love were small but so significant. He found out Bodie’s new favorite treat was starburst and magically it would be in the candy jar when we visited! He would prepare a meal on a weekend if he suspected we might visit and was so proud of what he could make! He spent countless hours with Brian sharing gardening advice and tales of the ‘upnorth’ that will be retold again and again in our family.

With his death, I felt like I was suddenly thrown back into a world of fresh reminders of the loss of Nate. This time it was me who wasn’t strong enough to pick out a casket. I suspect every one of us has had these feelings at some point. I would like to say that since I knew the pain of losing someone I was a great comforter, but in reality, I wasn’t. Mainly because at this point I am still working on comforting myself. I do feel it has made me a little more empathetic, I know that I can never understand that pain until I’ve experienced it. I only know what it feels like to lose a brother, not a father.

My husband says every loss is tough. And he is right. But every loss has also taught me something. My father-in-law’s gentle temperament has taught me patience with my little ones. He showed my husband and I a calm sense of what’s important and to enjoy what we have. His quiet wisdom reminds me at times how to handle problems of my own. And more importantly how to weather out a storm because the answers are usually there in the morning when the sun shines again.

My brother has taught me some big life lessons too. He has made me braver. He has made me see the strength inside myself that I never thought was there and pushed me to show it to other people. Nate has given me confidence to try things I never have before and know whether I fail or not, it was more important that I got out of my shell.

Both men had a huge impact in my life and it is no surprise that they left me during the same season of the year; the spring. It is a time of new growth and a promise of life. I guess that is their legacy to me. They taught me things I didn’t even know I needed to learn and they gave me a fresh start. My father-in-law taught me to slow down, enjoy life and take care of what’s important. My brother pushed me to use my skills, be brave and ‘put myself out there.’ Whether they were here for 77 years or 21 years, their impact on my life is tremendous. Now it is time to use what they’ve taught me and focus on what really matters before my journey here on earth is over.

Don't forget me, but don't dwell on me.
Carry me with you always, but don't stumble over me
If I have taught you anything, use it,
Then improve upon it.
You have your life to live, so get it done.
Do it well and remember we will see each other again.

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