Friday, November 6, 2015

Big Brother

Some days are tougher than others to be a big brother. I don't mean a government agency spying on our every move, but to actually be a big brother.

My uncle passed away earlier this year. His children travelled here after the news for the services and the funeral. At a national cemetery, the service followed the protocol for a veteran's funeral. My cousin, his oldest son, bravely received the American Flag for the family in his dad's honor. This was tough to watch. How much tougher was it to bear this symbol of his passing for our family? This was a tough day to be a big brother.

Afterwards, my eldest uncle, the eldest brother, spoke in remembrance of his younger brother. How difficult it must have been to speak without breaking his voice into a million little pieces. He was big brother extraordinaire, offering comfort and consolation to his niece, nephews and his other four siblings when he himself needed comfort and consolation. And, yet, this is one of the big lessons, this is how we receive what we want and need – by giving it. This was a tough day to be a big brother.

My late uncle had three children. The big brother who sat sturdy to receive the flag was his middle son. His eldest daughter, in a manner of speaking, became a big brother that day as well. She had to make difficult and grown up decisions about her father's death. She was composed, elegant, brave. And she set a beautiful example for the rest of us. How do you make these complicated, important and impactful decisions without calling your dad for advice? For her too, this was a tough day to be a big brother.

Yesterday, the man who had been my father-in-law for eighteen years passed away. My son's grandfather died minutes before we could say goodbye. In the sadness, I didn't realize until today that it is now my ex-husband's time to embody this difficult big brother role. This, no doubt, will be a tough day to be a big brother.

As I type, I am still too close to mourning to know with certainty how the following days will unfold. As he travels here to be with his younger brothers he will have to make decisions as big brothers do and to set an example for his children, nephews and nieces during a tough few days to be a big brother.

Today these departed big brothers watch over us. This is a comforting thought. In the aftermath of illness, death and funerals, weeping, nostalgia and the stages of grieving, we are left with the memories made together, the legendary stories that others tell about them, the lessons they directly or indirectly taught us, the appreciation we develop and the faith that their spirits rest with Spirit. I am marked by both of these experiences. They bring me perspective, gratitude, hope and much love. One day too, as the eldest daughter, I will have to be a big brother, but for now I still have my dad and he continues to bless me, comfort me, protect me, guide me, teach me and make me laugh. He is making sure that when that day comes I am as ready as anyone can be on such a day.

We send Light and Love to all big brothers. May the spirit of your deceased loved ones be a light to you.
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