Posts Tagged ‘death’

My Brother, My Friend*

*I wrote these thoughts one year ago, and shared them at my brother’s funeral the following day…

I’ve heard it said that your sibling is your first best friend, and that was certainly true for me and Dave.

Dave and MaryWe shared a bedroom in the early years, since our sister was 13 years older than I was.  I slept in a crib with the side taken off, and he slept in a twin bed.  But most nights, I ended up in bed with him.  My earliest memories are of us making shadow animals on the wall in the room.  I was probably 4 or 5, and he was 8 or 9.   He invented a contest, called, “see who can keep their hand up in the air longest”.. . but, of course, he had the wall on his side to help!

I adored my brother; followed him around our neighborhood.  If you’ve ever seen “To Kill a Mockingbird”, with the brother and sister Jem and Scout, that was us, only without nearly as much drama.  I distinctly remember him challenging me to jump across a creek or do something scary – simply by saying, “Come on, you can do it..”  then he’d count…   “One…” “No, I can’t, I’m scared!”, “Two…”, “I can’t, I can’t…”, “Three!” — and I’d jump!

When I got to school, on the first day when roll was taken, I’d inevitably hear, “Oh, you’re Dave’s sister.”  I was proud to say I was.  Little did I know how high he’d set the bar.  He was a National Merit Scholarship finalist, and I didn’t learn until much later that he’d been accepted at several high-profile universities, with big scholarships.  But my mom convinced him to stay closer to home instead.

As school kids we had separate bedrooms, as our sister had moved away, but that didn’t stop him from sharing his music through the wall.  When he was in high school he introduced me to the rock classics of the late 60’s: Santana, Cream, Credence Clearwater Revival, and other groups of the day. I was so proud when the band he was in, “The London Dock”, won the battle of the bands at our town’s sidewalk festival.  He was the keyboard man.  They did a mean “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

As we grew up and went our separate ways, we had less contact with each other..  but he always made the effort for important days.  He came to my college graduation, gave me away at my wedding.  And when my children came along, he never forgot their birthdays or Christmas.  They call him “Unkie Dave.”

And after we moved to Florida, I’d get a phone call when a hurricane was threatening.  In 2004, when four of them when right through our county, we talked a lot.

But it was Facebook that really helped us to connect, talk, and share our lives again.  He was able to see my kids and our grandson grow up through pictures and videos, and I was able to see his posts about music, animals, the things he loved.  (in the days and months after his passing, I connected with many of Dave’s Facebook friends who never actually met him face-to-face, but felt profound loss with his passing)

It’s been such a joy in these days to meet  and connect with the people he loved and who loved him.  His family, his co-workers, his Facebook friends…  And to hear your stories about my brother, and to know how much you loved and respected him.   He was a life-long learner, and it sounds like he shared that love of learning  and laughter with all of you.  Hearing your stories about him has challenged me to be more passionate about the things I love, and to make good use of the time I have left on this earth.

The last time I was in our home town was in 2003.  My daughter and I made a road trip from FL, and I came back for my 30th reunion and to see Dave.  One afternoon he took me for a hike on one of his favorite trails.  It was a beautiful day, and we had a great time talking and just enjoying nature.  At one point we had to cross a small stream, and he stepped across easily with his long legs,  and reached a hand back to help me jump over.  He didn’t have to count “one, two, three” this time, but my mind flashed back to those days when we wandered the neighborhood.

Now he’s made the crossing ahead of me again.  Easily.  Peacefully.

His last post on Facebook, on June 25th , (the night before his death)  was this..  “having given some folks their ‘fair share’ of harassment, I move along…”

And I’m waiting on the other side.   We all are.  Wishing, in a way, that we could follow.  But knowing we have to stay around for a while longer.

There won’t be anyone else in my life like Dave.  He was my first best friend.  I’ll miss him.

 

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Marking Our Days

We recently attended the wedding of my 76 year-old neighbor and her 79 year-old groom.  During the reception, a family member rose to make a poignant speech, which I’ll never forget:

‘We’re here to celebrate a special day in our lives,” he said. “This is how we mark important times:  we gather together on a special day, we wear special clothes, we say special words, we share special foods and even music.  The family has come together.  This is what we do as humans to help us remember these important events.”   I don’t know if he was a preacher or an anthropologist, but his observations have made an impression on me.

Two weeks to the day, we attended the funeral of a dear friend, a dynamic Christian brother who suddenly left this earth at age 57.   His death was a shock to his friends and family.  As I was dressing for the funeral, the words spoken at the wedding reception came back to me.

I realized that on two different Saturdays, we rearranged the schedule for the grocery shopping and laundry and cleaning so that we could join with our brothers and sisters.  We put on special clothes, tied our ties, shined our shoes.  We gathered for different reasons, but in both instances we were celebrating life.  We thanked God for His goodness and provision.  These days will become  markers for all who participated.

Joshua instructed God’s people to collect a pile of stones as a tangible reminder to themselves and their children of God’s provision and protection.  “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. … These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”  Joshua 4:6-7 (NIV)

Crossing the Jordan was the beginning of a new era for the children of Israel.  It was the fulfillment of God’s promise of deliverance and His covenant of love with His people.  Such an event merited a celebration and a marker. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment.  Like a wedding or a funeral, it was a  ‘life will be different from this point on’  moment.  These are the times when God often speaks to hearts, when people are more open to hearing His voice, when they recognize His hand at work.  As Christians, our participation in the celebration can help point others to Him. We can help to answer the question, ‘What do these stones mean?’

Whether a wedding, a funeral, a new baby, an engagement or a job promotion, it’s a chance to stop, to come together, to gather the family, (to eat!) to mark, and to point to God’s goodness and provision.  Let’s not let it pass without notice.  Let’s celebrate!

As the song says, ‘We will remember the works of Your hands, and we will stop and give You praise, for great is Thy faithfulness.’  (We Will Remember, Tommy Walker, WeMobile Music ©2005)

Copyright 2010 Mary E. Egidio – permission is granted to share this work, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes.  (yes, you can share it, but tell who wrote it, where you found it, and please don’t try to sell it)