13 October 2010

a letter to my brother-in-law

Dear John,

A million thoughts have been swirling through my head in the last couple of days, but the one I keep returning to, the thing I can't get past, is how unfair it is that you're dead. How unfair it is to you, who had so much life left to live, and how unfair it is for the rest of us, who have to figure out how to live in a world you're not part of anymore.

It's so unfair that you were taken from us so suddenly. I'm just hung up on the injustice of it, from the stupid little things like how sad I am for you that you'll never get to play the keyboards on Rock Band 3, or how you'll never get to read the book you were telling me about the last time I saw you, to the huge things like how you won't get to see your nephews grow up, and how terribly sad it is that you and Elizabeth don't get to grow old together. You had so much left to do!

I've been your official sister-in-law for less than a year, but I felt like family from almost the first time we met, nine years ago, because you were so open and warm and friendly. I've lost a number of relatives in my life, but this is the first time I've lost a family member who was also a dear friend. And maybe it's because I'm so far away, but it still doesn't feel quite real yet. When I think that I'll never see you again, never hear your wonderful contagious laugh, never have another huge warm hug from you, it seems impossible.

I only got to know you for nine years, which was not nearly long enough. And if nine years can produce so much grief, how much worse must it be for those who knew you and loved you for decades, for your whole life? And there were so many who loved you -- who wouldn't love you? You were an amazing person, a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, an uncle, a friend, and you were so kind, generous, loving, and always smiling. My heart aches for your parents, your siblings, all of your family and friends, and most deeply for Elizabeth.

How do you say goodbye to someone you didn't even know was going to be leaving? We all miss you, more than words can adequately express. It's so hard to see beyond the sudden pain of loss. I know it won't always be this painful, but your absence will always be felt.

Thank you, John, for being such a wonderful person, for all the fun and laughter and hugs and conversation and games and generosity and kindness and love. You will never be forgotten. You will ever be missed and loved. Rest well, brother, and maybe someday we'll meet again.