Things happen in threes, right?
Well, here’s an interesting one for you. The story of how three men — gone from this world, at least physically — continue to make their presence known to those they’ve left behind.
What’s the connection here, you ask? You know, the part of how I mentioned things happen in threes. So, here goes.
As I write this, it’s the fifth anniversary of my brother Tim’s passing. Still so hard in some regard — yet getting better. If that makes sense.
Regular readers know how much this threw me. Absolutely threw me — to the point, really, of needing to talk to someone about it. A professional someone. That really helped.
How do I make sense of it? Well, I stopped doing that. And that’s the key. I don’t understand. I never will. But I’ve stopped trying to understand — because that’s part of what was killing me. Point is, I try to keep his memory alive through my daily life whenever I can — and with the kids through prayers and stories and pictures.
It’s always hard around Erin’s birthday because of the closeness to it all — but it just goes to remind me how incredibly blessed we were to have her at that time — when the world was so dark, there was one little light shining. And, well, she still does.
And so does he.
So that’s one. But that’s the one you’ve know about from before.
A friend of mine lost his brother earlier this week. The good news is the suffering is over. This man battled cancer until it took every bit of his fight. My friend is haivng a hard time — who doesn’t when you lose a big brother?
I tried to share with him the ‘expertise’ I have — but I’m not sure it helped. What has helped, no doubt, is the outpouring of emotion my friend has seen as people have responded to his brother’s death.
I guess you could say he’s somewhat of a local celebrity. He was known by many — respected by them all. So my friend has that going for him — seeing how much his brother has impacted not just him, but — literally — thousands of others.
I tried to tell my friend to enjoy that part of it. To see what an impact his brother had on people. And he certainly did.
I remember when Tim died, how I was completely blown away in learning about his work life — and hearing directly from those people about how he influenced them.
That’s what I hope for my friend. That he continues to see how much his brother influenced so many. And that through that influence, his brother lives on, not just in their lives, but in his.
So, between my brother and my friend’s brother, that’s two death anniversaries within the same week — one ‘fresh’ and one five years.
Here’s the third — also with a death anniversary within just a few days of the other two — yet this person has been dead for 25 years — which is damn near impossible to comprehend.
I didn’t know my friend’s brother that just died, but I certainly knew of him.
This person, who died 25 years ago, I did know. He was a friend. Our familes were close — and always will be, to some extent. That’s what growing up in a small town does.
I remember being at their house plenty of times, playing all sorts of things. And I remember my friend and his sister and brother being at our house and swimming in our pool.
I remember going to high school and being one year behind my friend. I remember how good of a musician he was. And I swear if I think hard enough, I can still remember the sound of his voice. The smile on his face is a given.
He died just before his high school graduation. A sad, sad situation for all involved.
So where, possibly, could be the good in this?
It’s simple, really.
Twenty five years later, he still lives on in the hearts of people who knew him. Who were his friends.
No. Who ARE his friends. Death doesn’t break a friendship.
The younger brother of my friend posted something about the 25th anniversary on facebook. The comments were incredible. Because that’s what happens.
People don’t forget. I’m sorry, but they don’t.
They might not always talk about someone, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about them. And when they do, the stories that are shared are so precious — and always remembered so vividly.
So here we’ve talked about three men who are dead — less than a week, five years ago and 25 years ago.
And, yet, they are alive — and are being kept alive.
And that’s what’s so important in life.
That people who have influenced, continue to influence. Those around them. And those who loved them.
The way to do that? The way to help me and my friends who have lost their brothers?
To share stories, if you have them. To understand that we want to know what you remember — no matter what it is.
We want our brothers to continue influencing those who they were close to. And in these three situations, that’s totally the case.
And that’s a beautiful thing.