My little brother Josh had called me at work. I’d told him I’d call back and didn’t which, in retrospect, makes me the worst big sister of all time.
Joshua died a few days later and, as I cleaned out his apartment, I found a thank-you card that would have been sent to me, if I’d bothered to call back with my address. I know his drug overdose was not my fault, but I still wonder if I could have made a difference.
Yesterday, April 7th, marked the fifth anniversary of Joshua’s death, and the unwitting genesis of the hopeful seed that would become Epic Change.
If I let myself, which I rarely do, I can remember the morning of his death with vivid precision. I remember taking photographs in my brain, a vain effort to preserve my life as it was, knowing that it would never be the same. One of those photos was taken as we flew over the the Rocky mountains in Colorado. As we did, I realized my brother had probably never seen them.
I thought how tragic it was that he was looking for happiness from a substance when there’s so much beauty to be found in this world. It probably sounds all Pollyanna now, but I actually was so furious at the time that I used the f-word from the altar during my eulogy at his funeral, much to my own shock and the chagrin of the priest who was saying his funeral mass. I was just so mad at him for missing out on all the incredible beauty that life has to offer.
I think I travel so much now because I want to take him to all those amazing places that he missed. People often ask me why I went to Africa. I think I went to take Josh.
Or, perhaps, he was taking me.
In either case, Joshua somehow led me to Mama Lucy. I am eternally grateful, and I’m hoping that my work with Epic Change can pay some small tribute his memory. I wish I could tell you more about him, but the grief regulator in my head kicks in after a few minutes, and I can only go so far. If I did, I would tell you he was 6’7, a giant with an even bigger heart. He made me feel safe, protected and more beautiful than anyone else ever has. He was an incredible Daddy his little girl, Zoe, who’s now 9 years old and whose name, surely not coincidentally, means “life.” He loved music, and imparted his love to her; they share a favorite song that he used to play for her as she fell asleep, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.
At Josh’s wake, my family saw two rainbows in the sky and, while I don’t remember ever having encountered that phenomenon before, I now notice it all the time, and almost wherever I travel. This photo is from my visit to Victoria Falls.
These rainbows serve as constant reminders of the promise that lies behind even the darkest corners, and of the beginnings that lie at every end – if we just keep going.
It’s the power to keep going, the power to to turn around;
It’s the power to keep growing, to see the light in the darkest night;
Let the river flow.
Unbelievably, I found the song on YouTube here, and even a performance from Waynesboro here. Note the incredible sound and video quality, and check out the dramatic crescendo at the end :)
The universe is a very strange and wonderful place.
|Just enter your gift amount & click the donate button:|