This past weekend was a first reconnection since my brother’s funeral, death and countless visits to the Mayo Hospital and Clinic in Rochester, MN. Last week also marked the 21st wedding anniversary. As I ponder the events of the weekend, I am smiling because my brother Greg would be pleased with what he saw on Saturday in the glorious sunshine, clear blue water, motorboats, and enormous waves. I could feel his presence smiling at us and even sharing a smirk now and then.
This photo is of my son sitting on the edge of the dock at the Chain of Lakes in Waupaca, Wisconsin. He and I were anxiously awaiting arrival of my father at the boat launch with his roundabout ski boat for a play day on the water and of course the first ski of the day. In the top photo, a family of ducks crossed the pier, a mother and 4 babies. Reflecting on this sight and the shadows behind Nathan reminded me of the grief present within Greg’s family, my parents, my three brothers, and all the family and friends who loved him.
Each of us has our own grief trajectory for sure. On a daily basis, I continue to think of Greg in some way and see less tears shed as time passes. Staying away from some of the triggers described on my last blog post has been helpful. I cannot completely appreciate or understand the grief his wife, his children, my parents, and my brothers are enduring but can empathize to the best of my ability to provide support and comfort to keep Greg’s legacy alive and family’s positively connected. As we grieve, a teeter totter of emotions and feelings surface and sometimes unpredictable tears don’t stop falling. Each of us is essential in supporting each other, listening and hearing stories, and fostering growth during the grief and healing process. Sometimes we won’t “get it right” or may say something that triggers the tears to flow and sadness to return unknowingly. We are all human with imperfect souls and no crystal ball. What I do know is that with respect, positive spirit, and resilience, we will get through this and whatever else crosses the path in time.
Last weekend marked a moment of hope to reconnect and provide happy new memories, a move forward as a family, and am certain that my brother was proud regardless of where each of us were in the grief process. Greg always focused on enjoying the gift of life given, utilizing your talents, and living life to the fullest. Most importantly, he emphasized that you cannot take life too seriously. We need to laugh, love, and enjoy each other. We overwhelmingly succeeded in fulfilling my brother’s last three wishes without a doubt on Saturday. The cousin time was outstanding. Everyone found a new skill or strength to rally towards whether it be getting up on the wakeboard, new skills on the kneeboard, fantastic dives or cannon balls off the pontoon boat, or simply being a good target in the water for folks to jump on and splash. There were plenty of smiles, moments with silly laughter, and sunshine on our skin. At the end of the day we all had a glow about us despite the repeated sunscreen applications. I looked like a red nose reindeer with silicone injected in my lips. Not a pretty sight indeed!!! To finish out the day off the water, we were surprised to learn that my father decided to take his plane out for a surprise spin and headed for the runway. We were all engrossed in various activities from 4 wheeling and grilling brats for supper when we heard the sound of the plane. I quickly dropped the brat buns and ran over to the runway. His take off reminded me of his unrelenting courage to take risks and find peace. In my heart of hearts, I truly believe that Greg was smiling down at my father saying good job Dad. Nice to see you living your dream! 🙂
In closing, I wanted to share a generous gift by my mother-in-law a few weeks ago. It was a personal signed copy of a beautiful and inspirational grief book. It resonated with me bringing peace in the moment and continues to do so each time I reread it. The book focuses on a mother’s journey through death of her college age daughter Jennifer from a rare bacterial infection. Despite the very different circumstances of my brother’s death and her daughter’s death, the question Nan posed, “Where is God in what has happened to our daughter and us?” personally impacted my heart. The book is called: Walking with Grief: A Healing Journey. It is written and illustrated by Nanette Geertz and Anne Ierardi. I encourage you to take a look and hope you find comfort on your healing journey.
Thank you for taking the time to share in my journey,