My brother died on Tuesday, past. That is a difficult thing to write. Somehow the act of the writing seems to make the action true, but it was already there. The brother who looked out for me and those around him, was diagnosed with cancer on Thursday night and died in the early morning hours of Tuesday.
I was able to say goodbye and lend my love to that of his parents, sons, and siblings as we wished him a safe voyage. I was able to share stories, laughter, and tears with family as we came together that night in support and love. For those moments, I am grateful. But I am not able to attend his memorial today. My family cannot leave Sunnyville to gather with friends and family and celebrate the life he had and the ways in which he touched others, and for that I am angry.
I am taking small comfort in the fact that I wrote the following, and my eldest Seashore Sister will read it. I am taking comfort in the fact that we here in Sunnyville will gather today to simply be together as our family will be doing in the City of Big Shoulders. So, I share my farewell here, with you - a tribute to my brother whose last voicemail sits on my phone and has been played a dozen or more times in the past several days, his voice a reminder of laughter and happy moments we shared.
I can't be with you all here today as you celebrate the life of my brother, but I want to share a thought - to contribute to the collective memory of Michael C---- C-----.
We all know that Mike was social and....well...LOUD. He enjoyed a crowd - particularly if he could feed and entertain them - and he liked to have a good time. His voice could carry over a crowd in joy and displeasure alike. These attributes often made others see him as a couldn't-give-a-damn guy. But they couldn't be more wrong.
From the airplane rides he gave me as a small child, to the time he stood guard at the front door to keep 14-year-old me from sneaking into the night, to the week he spent remodeling my entire bathroom, and a million other moments, Mike has been a steady presence of caring in my life. He was of those few who can be called to help and will answer the call - regardless of his own situation - and he would do whatever was in his power to help those who needed it. In fact, his biggest complaint to me was that his power to help wasn't greater.
I am heartbroken that you have to gather here today at all. The thought of times I will not share with him makes me sad beyond measure. Gone are the days when I will hear him call, "[my name]!" and for that I mourn. I mourn my loss of Mike, just as you all mourn your loss. And though I cry as I write these lines (and I'm sure my proxy reader is tearing up, too) I cry for myself, for his sons, and his family. I cry for what we will miss as we continue through this life without him. But I do not cry for Mike himself. He has passed on, and I am thankful that he is at peace with the Father. I know he is safe in the embrace of God and the loved ones who went before. So, while I am sad, I am secure in the knowledge that when it is my time to pass there will be a warm place for me and, if Mike has any say at all - a barbecue with too much food and lots and lots of love expressed at full volume.
I leave you with this from Psalm 34:18
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.