Though it seems nearly a thousand years ago, back in early January (when the world seemed relatively calm) my Beloved bid adieu to his younger brother. This was before Covid-19 had rocked everyone’s world, but the expectation was that my brother-in-law’s days on this planet were ending. He moved out of state to live with his son.
We were privileged in recent years to have him living near us. Initially, he lived in our home, moved out, temporarily moved out of state and eventually returned to the area. An irrepressible individual, his stories never ceased to entertain and his bottomless reservoir of energy made him well-loved by all.
But cancer’s destruction would not be abated, rendering him a wisp of the man he once was. Bidding him adieu entailed numerous phone calls through January and February, until he was too weak to hold a phone. He passed into Eternity on March 4th at the age of 66.
Everyday, my Beloved feels this huge void from the loss of his brother. They talked daily including a regular Bible study time every morning by phone. Saying goodbye was sorrowful, but my Beloved knows the assurance of seeing his sibling again … such a blessed hope!
Thinking back over the 50+ years that I knew him, I remember him as someone who was animated by his love for Jesus Christ. Like all of us, he was far from perfect. In fact, he frequently drove me to exasperation! He had a way of doing the most annoying things … in the most endearing and forgivable way.
About five years into our marriage, my Beloved and I opened our humble home so his brother would have a place to live during summer break from college. He lived with us and our firstborn (a toddler) in the tight quarters of a basement apartment. It was a trial arrangement, wherein my Beloved and I shared our meager means with a family member whose situation was even more humble.
In many respects, this young brother was accustomed to a Spartan-like existence. He slept on the floor in a sleeping bag and kept his belongings in a duffle bag. He’d spend hours a day training as a long-distance runner. For our part, we attempted to acquaint him with Civilization 101, especially how to pick up after himself. By summer’s end, we greeted his departure with relief and our shared opinion of never again … though he did come again and we were glad of it.
His passing in March prevented an in-person funeral or memorial service. In the midst of Covid, death has taken on a surreal aspect to me. People have already disappeared from our lives due to physical distancing. Without the finality of a last tribute, though, it’s hard to think of them as gone.
Herewith, a sonnet honoring the man, my brother-in-law. Words cannot encompass the breadth and depth of a life. It must be enough to say he will be missed.