My brother would have been 54 today. Growing up, my family usually celebrated our birthdays together. He died over three years ago, and there is a hole in my life where he used to be. Even though he was my big brother, he was always more like my little brother. My brother was severely handicapped by epilepsy and he never lived a 'normal' life. He lived mostly alone, in a world of reaching out for meaning and acceptance, a world that I fear was too often brutal and disappointing.
My brother joined the church while I was on my mission, and his true satisfaction in life was serving wherever he could. But he was the wierd guy that volunteered for everything, that had to be told sometimes to please go away. It nearly broke his heart when he had to put away his Scouting uniform, because some mothers were concerned about him with their boys. Yet he was genuinely loved by his ward--I learned this from attending his funeral. I chose not to speak, I only wanted to sing. It was and still is the most important solo I have ever sung: How Great Thou Art. I also chose the hymn, "Lord, I Would Follow Thee." It fit him, his zeal, his love, his quiet heart.
My brother was a dreamer. When we were boys, he loved to draw fantasy castles filled with magical animals and we would let them live through our imaginations. He drew all the time; he was never without a pencil. We created all kinds of stories about kingdoms and chivalry. Then as he grew into a man, and the effects of heavy medications began to take their tole, he stopped drawing. But he always had big plans, like businesses he wanted to start up, things he wanted to invent, a wife and kids. Although none of that could ever happen for him, he'd never admit to believing in any of his limitations. Maybe that was his saving grace.
My brother died in his sleep, probably from a seizure. He was found several days later in his apartment, with his hand outstretched. I thought this was iconic: he always was reaching for something. Maybe now he can get his arms around his dreams. I wrote this poem about it. I believe his death was a sweet release, a gift from our loving Father in Heaven.
So today I'm missing him. Again. I wish he could know that, maybe he does. Happy birthday to you, John, my beloved brother.