My Truth

To know him was to love him…

This is the eulogy I wrote and read at my brothers celebration of life service.

This is my favorite picture of us.

To know Jim was to love him. Even though he sometimes had an intimidating exterior, if you know him you would know what a kind and approachable man he was. That twinkle in his blue eyes and smirky smile stood out from across the room.

When he grew up, there were 5 born in 6 years and then 5 years later, I was born. My growing up experience was likely different than my siblings but it was also likely a lot the same when it comes to our relationship with Jim. Jim made an effort to not only be my brother but also be my friend. He was 11 years older and he when he moved out of the house, I was 7. Jim made time to do special things like have me over to watch the Wizard of Oz on tv and we made cookies during the scary flying monkey scene.

I remember going to restaurants where Jim worked and he would come to our table with his tall chief hat on and made sure we were well taken care of.

Jim supported my family by coming to a many play productions my sons were in, taking pictures of the matching band and gave the best pep talks before each pinewood derby as well as photographing the big event. Jim was very interested in and supportive of my youngest sons scouting efforts and I was hoping that in about a year, Jim would be the one to present him for his Eagle Scout Court of Honor.

Jim will be so missed.

I loved seeing life through Jim’s color blind eyes and how he captured the world around us. All the special moon’s or a spiderwebs. A close up of a flower or a bubble bee on a blade of grass still with morning dew. He loved challenge of getting amazing shots of lightning or fireworks, where timing and exposure can make or break the photo. But the thing that sticks out most to me is the candid photos of people he took. His people shots where always close up so you could see the sweat beads rolling down one of his grandkids face while playing sports or the excitement of the kid who’s pinewood derby car won 1st place, the intensity of someone’s face while playing an instrument and matching. Or the connection of a musician to the song they playing on the drums, the guitar or singing. The beauty of a new bride and the joy of a new formed family.

I have fond memories of going to Rolling Thunder together, seeing our brothers high school band reunion performance and being a taste tester for his BBQ sauce.

But I will always cherish the times I spent with Jim and Barbara during her long illness. I had the privilege to witness what love really looks like while he cared for her. I would come and visit with Barbara while Jim went grocery shopping. I’d tell him take your time, go do guy stuff like go to home depot or go hit a bucket of balls but he never did. He was gone the exact amount of time it took to shop and get home. The love and care he had for her, was like no one else I have ever witnessed.

That truly was Jim. Compassionate. Dedicated. Loving.

Carolina BBQ will never taste the same. The Wizard of Oz will always be our thing. I will forever look through my camera lens in a different way. And I will love unconditionally. Until we meet again, I love you kiddo.

My Truth

One Moment At A Time…

Learning how to live one moment at a time Because sometimes one day at a time is too much.

The afternoon of April 6th while I was out with a group of friends, I got a phone call from my brother. I knew just from how he said hello, that something was wrong. He told me our other brother had a heart attack. He was in the hospital 2 hours away and to hang tight for more information.

In that moment, the world kept spinning around me but I was standing still. My mind was racing with who needed to be where and when, what was on my desk at work, how long it would take to drive there, how much money did I have if I needed a hotel, who’s with him, who needed to be where and when, how long will it take to get there, who’s with him, over and over and over.

The very familiar feeling of being completely out of control and numb. Feeling everything but it’s easier to feel nothing. Numb it out because this hurts far too much to think that my brother was so sick.

But I’ve worked so hard on not numbing out feelings. That new skills bubbled up….like naming feelings is better. Feeling them is hard but better. I was afraid and worried. And while I had control over nothing. So I had to do the only thing that I could do….trust God.

I started immediately understanding what living one moment at a time felt like and how I fragile life is.

I was asked to hang tight and wait for more information. I stayed with my friends rather than going home and crying by myself. I was there physically but my heart and head were not.

Sunday, my cousin drove us down to the hospital. Two of my brothers were in the visitors room and one had just left. As soon as I saw them, I started crying. It all felt like too much but I took a deep breath and we went in to see him.

Central lines, IV’s, tubes, wires, bags of meds hung and machines making rhythmic noises. All so overwhelming. So much to overcome.

In control of nothing.

Accepting one moment at a time.

Thy will be done.

I spent the next two days with him. Lots of ups and downs. We had a group text going to share updates. I felt like every time I sent an update, things changed.

Every time the machines rhythms changed, I looked to see. I’d rub my hand across his forehead and tell him how well they were taking care of him. I’d say his name and he would open his eyes.

Living one moment at a time.

Accepting one moment at a time.

Being part of every moment at a time

In control of nothing.

Just being there. Doing life together.

I went back home and my brothers rotated in and out over the next few days. There was very little time that he was alone.

Thursday was hard. Feeling like he was back sliding. Should I go back down. Should I wait. I decided to wait till morning and then decide.

Very early Friday morning April 12th, my sweet brother passed away. Grateful my brother was with him. No regrets I was not. The time we spent Sunday – Tuesday was special.

I learned to live one moment at a time.

I learned that even when not in control, I could still be there.

I learned just how fragile life is.

I learned that doing life together sometimes means doing death together too. And I am forever grateful the time we had together in his final days.

I love you kiddo. Until we meet again.

Photo Credit: my brother who passed. His caption for this photo on Facebook was ‘before my bubble burst’

More soon about him and the legacy he left his kid sister.