Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Still Missed

I have been thinking about my brother tonight.  My younger son Ben is very concerned about not seeing his uncle lately.  My heart aches.  I miss him.  I want my children to know him.  He was so fun and so amazing with children.  I am grateful for this blog that has so many great memories and pictures all in one place that I can show my children.  He will be missed for as long as I am alive.  I pray that he knows that and that he knows how much I love him.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

My friend, Jane had a son commit suicide years ago. He & John had so much in common it was uncanny...everything from the ubsurd number of girls they dated in highschool to the way they served everyone they met. Jane gave me the audio of his funeral to listen to. I resisted for 2 years, one because I didn't own a cassette player and two because I was afraid of the flood of emotions that might return. Today on the 2nd Anniversary of John's death, I listened to it. In it a psychologist, who is a dear friend of theirs spoke. His words were so helpful and very true for John as well. So I transcribed the audio and adapted the talk for John. Here it is:

Love was and is the final triumph of John’s life. How we loved him and how he made it so easy for us to love him and how he loved us through everything he went through. I was asked to speak to help make a little more sense of out of the experiences that John struggled with and somehow understand the paradox of one so vital and so wonderful and so full of life and yet somehow not with us. The saga of his generosity and vitality but also the journey of those internal struggles that were silent to most of us.

Sometimes in life we face mortal illness, and I mean MORTAL illness, where love is not enough to stop their destructive forces. Some illnesses are that way, like cancer. They grow in spite of everything we can do and they take away our vitality. So it is with depression. It can overcome the temporal body, the brain, which is the seed of where that illness lies and leave the loving spirit with no home, no heart, no place of repose. The chemistry of the brain is something we have to live with, even in our spiritual sense we need to have that place of a home, where our minds can have a place to rest and when that imbalance of chemistry creates confusion, irritability or loss of sense of well being then it makes it enormously difficult to live in that place of pain because that’s the part of our brain that tells us a sense of well being or happiness or a sense of energy for us to look forward to things because we sense nothing will disturb that sense of ourselves. But when that chemistry is not there and it is imbalanced in a way that it goes right to the core of our sense of self, it robs us of our feelings and locks us into a feeling state of anxiety, fear and despair. And at times it makes it feel like there is no way out of that place because it is us. It can be an insidious illness that starts very, very early in ways some of us will probably never quite understand.
It began to steel the emotional center of his well being and in its place leave despair, pain, & insecurity. Living with a silent burden then he begins to think, “You know, this is just me.” And not understanding that other people around are not experiencing this and so he keeps it silent, thinking, “I can’t do better than this so what I am going to do is connect with everybody I know and I am going to make those connections really worth something. Because when I do I feel so much better. And in those moments when I make those connections and that friendship rolls forth its wonderful how I don’t feel that pain so much anymore.”
And its remarkable how very little many of us really knew how much that burden was and how much he had to shoulder it and he did and he carried the pain so that most us would never see it. Can you imagine anyone so excited and interested in life. He was incredible and that connection that he had with people. Out of his pain grew a capacity for healing. You know you’ve heard that one of the things that was a gift of his was to listen and to serve and to be there to comfort others. The tragedy was that he couldn’t comfort himself at times when he was alone to his own feeling state. When his brain just left that sense of comfort and he was there to face the despair that was in his mind and therefore took hold of his heart. It’s almost like when you are with your friends the sun is up and you see the sun but when that friend leaves the sun goes down and you are left with darkness because his emotional state can’t retain those feelings that would give him that feeling that inside himself he was really ok. And it was only when he was giving, when he was full of joy and sensing what he was giving someone else, could that pain completely for a period of time be gone. But it grew greater.
Eventually in spite of everything he could do and what everyone else tried to understand how to respond, it overcame his sense of strength, his rationality, and worst of all it overcame his hope that somehow it would be different. That some morning he would wake up and it would be gone. It would be gone and he wouldn’t have to keep facing it. He fought the good fight and he did it so well but maybe he was just worn out. Sometimes cancers do that to our bodies. Depressions do it to our brains. But John struggled and he did it magnificently. For the wonder that he was what everyone saw and in spite of what he felt, in spite of the illness and pain and confusion it created a problem of knowing how he would go on, he never stopped loving and he never stopped trying to connect with all of us with that love.
You know sometimes it makes me get really angry and there is a piece of me that wants to say, “John, Why did you do this?! Why did you leave me the pleasure of your company and the joy of your soul and the warmth of your companionship? WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME!?” And obviously it is easy to forgive him for that because I’m really angry at his illness. I’m angry at that illness for taking him away from me. But really the thing that troubles me more is I guess I would ask him to forgive me.
Forgive me for not really understanding the pain that you carried for so long and I know you were so strong that you felt you needed to do it in order to protect me from carrying that burden along with you. But oh, I wish I could have carried more of it with you. For you stretched to care for everyone else and you also stretched to make sure I wasn’t going to carry that burden. But please, please forgive me for perhaps not being sensitive enough at times, for not understanding more of what you were going through and for taking you sometimes maybe just a little for granted.
But then I guess it always comes back to love doesn’t it. He made us love him and it wasn’t because he was trying to make us love him, that’s just who he was. And he carried the burden and he carried it magnificently and he gave himself in a thousand ways to all of us and carried the burden still. We feel this enormous love for him and it was his gift to make us feel that way. And so as I said before “Love is the final triumph of his life. For nothing in this temporal state will ever take that from him. His spirit reigns transcendent above it all. In spite of it all, he will still love and he will still carry that magnificent spirit with him forever. Thank you John. For your life and your example, your love, your sense of desire to make us feel better than we are. Even at this moment, you are in our hearts reminding us what it is to love each other. We celebrate him today and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

By: Psychologist, Dr. Richard Ferre Speaking at the Funeral of a Suicide Victim (Stephen Linton)-Adapted for John

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hey Juanito,

I have been thinking a lot about you lately. Every time I hear this song, it always makes me think about you and I change the words a little bit and sing along. Your passing had made me start to pay attention to my life and want to get my life in order. Man, you are gone and you are still being an example to me! I know that sounds lame... here's my version of it.

Roll with Me by Montgomery Gentry:

Wake up in the morning Get to living my life
Making sure that Im all that I can be
Went to church on Sunday
There was a moment that came
I swear it was like the Lord spoke right to me

So now I'm slowing it down and I'm looking around
And I'm lovin' this town and I'm doing alright
Aint' worried 'bout nothing cept for the man I wanna be
I'm thinking maybe it's time to be livin' the rhyme
When I'm singing a song about nothing but right
And it'd sure be nice if you would roll with me

Saw my friend last winter only thirty years old
Being laid to rest while his mom stood by his side
Sure was hard to watch those tears roll down her face
Made me think how we all just have our time

So now I'm slowing it down and I'm looking around
And I'm lovin this town and I'm doing alright
Aint' worried 'bout nothing cept for the man I wanna be
I'm thinking maybe it's time to be livin' the rhyme
When I'm singing a song about nothing but right
And it's sure be nice if you would roll with me

Who knows whats up ahead
I think I'd rather not know instead

So now I'm slowing it down and I'm looking around
And I'm lovin this town and I'm doing alright
Aint' worried 'bout nothing cept for the man I wanna be
I'm thinking maybe it's time to be livin' the rhyme
When I'm singing a song about nothing but right
And it's sure be nice if you would roll with me


Sunday, September 12, 2010

On Your Birthday

John, a few of us met at your grave site for your birthday, where we celebrated some of the things we love about you. We missed you and wished you could have been there with us...maybe you were. :)


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you, you live in a zoo, you smell like a monkey, and you look like one too.

Happy Birthday John,

I remember you singing that to me before. I wish I could be in Phoenix with the rest of the family to celebrate your Birthday, but I can't. So I am sure like many others I will be thinking of you and all the rest you left behind today. I miss you allot.

Love Kaylyn

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Celebrating Our Brother John

(If you have a slow internet like mine, you may want to push play & then pause, let the movie load, then watch. It's much better than starting & stopping. I also suggest clicking on full screen. Enjoy!)

Today would have marked 32 years for you, John, and so in honoring you, this video celebrates all the good you have brought our family over the years. Because your birthday is on the 25th of August, it was often overlooked by the excitement or dread of the first day of school and the hustle & bustle of back to school shopping. So this year I wanted to do something special for you to prove that I remembered.
I remember last year all you wanted for your birthday was to see your little Megan's first day of Kindergarten and somehow you miraculously managed to get leave so you could be there. This year for your birthday we are all wishing for you to be here with us and although you physically can't be, maybe again you will miraculously manage to get a short leave so that you can. We love you and are grateful for the covenants that bind us eternally as a family. Happy birthday!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Fathers Day

I wish John was here this Fathers Day. John’s kids love him so much and I know John loved his kids too. This memorials day we all went to John’s grave site together. Joshua was climbing all over John’s grave. We were about to have him stop when someone said, "Joshua always climbed all over John and John loved it." We all paused for a moment and thought John probably wouldn’t mind a bit that his kids were once again climbing all over him. I am so happy to have had such a great brother who was a great dad also. I love his kids and I am so happy that I also have Lila in our family. Happy Fathers Day!