the alternative

After seven weeks of fighting, on October 18, 2010, my baby brother lost his battle with AML. We can’t control what happens in life, but we can control how we respond. And the response of my brother’s family, friends, neighbors, former neighbors, colleagues, classmates and teachers of his children was absolutely amazing.

If we had tried to script the celebration of life that followed the viewing the evening before his funeral, we couldn’t have done a better job. The people who were moved to stand up to tell us about how my baby brother touched their lives had us in tears as well as in laughter throughout. Again and again we heard about how he loved to hug the people he loved, and that he was unafraid to tell us all that he loved us.

Even the weather responded with grace. While October in Minnesota can be cold, the weather the week we were preparing for my brother’s funeral was gorgeous. Sunshine and warm temperatures made it easier to smile and laugh amidst the many tears.

My brother never lost his sense of humor or his sense of humanity. Even before he could tolerate the speaking valve that allowed us to hear his speech, he spoke to us, challenging us to read his lips. This was all the more difficult as he followed the guidelines of humor by saying something unexpected more often than the expected. We had to rely on a spelling board which grouped the letters of the alphabet into four bunches. We pointed to groups to figure out how to narrow down the spelling of words we didn’t understand through lip reading. A lesser man might have given up trying to keep our spirits up. But my brother was a great man.

I love you, Brian. Have a great Thanksgiving feast with Mom, Aunt Laverne, Uncle Bob, all the grandparents, and the regular card players who went before you.

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