This past month has served as a reminder where our comforts lay and who our supporters are. When we received news of a death in our family, we were in shock, as many would be at an unexpected passing of a younger sibling.
For myself, it was hard to believe that my brother had died. It was head knowledge only, at first. I could say the words to someone else, but the news had not yet reached my heart and thereby my emotions. For those first weeks — and there were weeks until the interment of his ashes — just because of distance and practical matters.
I kept expecting he’d come on Messenger and write, “Hi, sis, how are you doing?” Because apart from his visits home, that’s how we communicated. For him, it was less expensive; and for me, practical because of work, family and time commitments. We could communicate as we were able. And he’d share the news there when he was coming to Ontario to visit.
Initially all I could do was share a few small stories about our adopted brother who came at 5 ½ years old, insecure, energetic and eager for a Mom and Dad to call his own. In the deal, he got five big sisters. He grew through childhood, expending much energy both in school and on the farm where he was growing up. Through teenage years, that growth continued with some of the typical teenage issues, though multiplied. At one point, he met his birth mom and several siblings from that family. Then as an adult, grew to 6 foot something. He’d lean on my shoulder and tease that I was now his little sister. We had a good relationship.
On sharing the fact of his death, friends, extended family, and members of my church family shared their condolences, and on the day of my brother’s celebration of life, we were surrounded physically by cousins on both sides of our family. Also in attendance were neighbours from the farm and town, as well as friends.
We were blessed with sunshine and fair weather, so we could gather outdoors a little longer after the graveside ceremony, and those who felt comfortable to go indoors for a lunch joined us there as well.
The comfort came not only in gifts of flowers, plants,
and sympathy cards, but also the prayers of people around us. The minister who
officiated shared words from the 23rd Psalm — read by one of my nieces — often used on such
occasions. “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, ... for you
are with me.”
We often have to hold onto those promises when we are
in that place. God loved my brother
as he loves us all. My reading from 1 Corinthians 13, about love in action,
reminded me of him too. He may not have often said, “I love you,” but he acted
instead, most notably by calling Mom and Dad whenever he could on their birthdays,
anniversary and Christmas when he could not be home. And he was home for their celebrations of life too.
I hope that your comfort lay there, and that you too will be surrounded by the company of friends and family who care about you and how you’re doing in tough times. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:4 reads: that God “… consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in affliction with the consolation we ourselves are consoled by God.”
May you share that consolation with others.
Carolyn R. Wilkerhttps://www.carolynwilker.ca/