My family and I were in Cancun. We never would’ve gone, except the news about my little brother had been good for days. The doctors had gone from saying, “He’s not out of the woods yet,” and “He’s a very sick man,” to, “He has a long road ahead.” A road meant recovery. A road meant a future. We could handle a road. So my family and I boarded a plane to Mexico on Saturday, assuring my sister-in-law we’d go to Dallas to visit him when we returned home. But just two days later, the news was bleak.
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, my 38-year-old brother went home to the Lord while his bride of twenty-four days stood by his side.
The pain is raw, and I’m weeping as I type this. But I’ve learned a couple of lessons in the last week. They are so obvious, they might be cliché. I don’t care, because they are also very true.
Lesson One: Tell the people in your life that you love them. I am so thankful that JD’s wedding was just a week before he got sick. He was looking so forward to the day he married his soul mate, and afterwards, he told us it was the best day of his life. I’m thankful also because after the wedding, I hugged my brother, told him how happy I was for him, and said, “I love you.” I could count on one hand the number of times I’d told him that in the last decade, but I said it that night, just six days before he got sick. And knowing I’d said it brings me comfort today.
Lesson Two: Tell the people in your life that Jesus loves them. My brother and I didn’t have very many conversations about my faith, but he knew what I believed, and I’m so thankful knowing that, in the end, he believed it, too. If nobody had told him, where would JD be today?
Lesson Three: Lighten up. One lesson my little brother taught me was to lighten up. Why get frustrated, angry, and judgmental about the little things? And let’s face it—most of the stuff we lose sleep over qualifies as “little.” With JD’s illness front-and-center, all the things that irritated me seemed suddenly so trivial. JD was the most easy-going person I knew, and the least judgmental. He was too busy loving people to judge them.
JD had a sweet, gentle, and generous spirit, and I already miss him terribly. Hard as this is on all of us, I know he’s at peace with the Father, and I know I’ll see him again someday.