Today is the 5-year anniversary of my brother-in-law’s very unexpected death from complications of Legionnaire’s Disease. Before that, I didn’t even know that still existed. My son, who was very close to his uncle, was 9. My daughter was 6. Their father and I were still married.
My brother-in-law was a wonderful person. He had his faults, as we all do, but he was one of the kindest, gentlest souls I’ve ever known. He struggled with mental illness, which sometimes made his life unmanageable, but when he was not being pulled under by it, he was the most thoughtful people ever.
He was interested in Buddhism, and tried to follow its practices as much as possible. He tried never to intentionally or unintentionally hurt anyone.
He gave the best presents. He never had much money, but he instead spent time thinking of the perfect gift for the people on his list. Frequently it was something that the receiver wouldn’t have thought of on their own, but suited them perfectly. The one year he did have some extra money, he spent all of it on Christmas presents for his family. He spoiled my kids with fun, but also educational, toys. My husband (his brother) was out of work then, and he knew we were struggling, so he bought us gift cards (yes, multiple) to the local grocery store.
He also had a great sense of humor. He could get people laughing with the things he said and did, and to this day one of us will hear or see something funny and think “He would have LOVED that.”
Despite having a wealth of problems of his own, he was always there to listen to anyone who needed a friend. I wish he was here still to help my son through his teen years. I still think no one else could have been as helpful to S.
So Pat, I don’t know if I believe that there’s a Heaven, or what happens after we die, but if you are still out there somewhere and you’re paying attention, know that there isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t enter my thoughts, even now. S. and H. miss you. I know their dad misses you terribly. I don’t have to still be married to him to know that. I hope you are enjoying yourself, wherever you are. You deserve it. Your life here was far from easy, and I hope if there is something after we die (and I hope there is) that you are spending it drumming in a band, reading great books, playing all the best games pre-release, and doing everything else you enjoyed or would have if life hadn’t held you back. You were the best of us.