I finally had some time tonight. Time to be still. Time to think. Time to reflect. Time to remember quietly a much-loved boy of long ago.
A boy with an infectious smile, a quick wit, and a keen interest in his family. He was always smiling, always happy, always loving and loved. We had so much time with him then. From when I was 11 until I was 27, Brandon and Andrew had the bulk of their weeknight visitations with their dad at our house. We lived so much closer than Ken did, so it just made sense, but it was also wonderful.
Those weekly visits gave us so many memories. Reading books, playing board games, running in the back yard, hiking on the old railroad tracks, playing in the creek, fishing for those leviathans waiting in the water fall on Flint Creek in Orleans. Shooting baskets, hiding in a tent, playing army, climbing trees, driving that back-breaking go-cart, helping Dad haul water for our well. Camping, teaching them to shoot, encouraging dreams but cautioning Brandon about his actual chances in the NBA, helping him develop and sharpen that sarcastic wit and trying to dial it back a bit. Taking the boys for their first garbage plates at Nick Tahou’s and hearing that their mom had to take Andrew to the hospital afterward for a stomach problem. Good times.
But there is a time for everything, and the time for so much contact gave way to a time for so little. My parents downsized their home, I got married and started a family, and Brandon started college and work. Visits dwindled to only Christmas, but he was still always smiling, happy, loving and loved.
We blinked, and the time slipped away. We are grateful for all those who helped prepare for his services this week and for all those who grieve with us. We are grateful for the stories and memories, for the knowledge that Brandon’s time apart from us was not time alone.
Time was what we wanted this week and for the years that rushed by before; time is what we wish we could have now. Time with that boy grown into a man. Time with the man he’d become, time with the man he’d not yet finished becoming, time with the family he’d likely have made.
Time has slowed this week. It seems a month ago that Ken called and told us of the accident, since I screamed my prayers of anguish as I drove to Mom and Dad’s house, but it was exactly a week just moments ago.
The frantic tasks of preparing to honor the memory of a loved one lost can all too easily forestall the quieter tasks of preparing our hearts to let them go. There is so much to do and so little time, so much stress and so little peace. There is only one chance to get it right, and in the devastation of future time lost, it seems all the more important to do so.
I am a writer by trade and training but also by nature and inclination. Writing for me is both a way to show honor and love but also a therapy to help process my grief and obtain peace. Many times at the newspaper, I had to write about accidents like Chris and Brandon’s, had to help families remember and communities know the value of a life instead of the details of a tragedy.
I have wanted that this week, but the time available could not give the peace needed to do so, the loss too great, our time together too rare. The time was not yet right; even this is not yet fully the right thing I want to say. However, one of the lessons of this week is that we aren’t in charge of such things. Time passes, and we must give today what we can.
It’s time. Not for everyone but for me. Not to move on but to move forward. Not to forget but to get up. Not to say final or perfect words but simply the words I have for now.
I loved my nephew deeply and joyfully, and I will miss him very much. I look forward to a time of reunion, a time of no more tears or regrets, a time that will never end.
Rest in peace, Brandon.