One Year....

Today, Aug. 3rd, marks one year since my brother passed away.
I wasn't sure what this day would bring.
I wasn't sure how I would feel.
How I should feel.

We are back in San Clemente today.
We pulled into the beach at 3:00 pm.
I glanced at the clock and caught my breath.
Although I thought that is where I would be today....
we didn't plan it to the hour...minute.
I can't remember the exact minute my brother died.
But I know that we were all out playing in the ocean and came in to a missed call.
I knew it then.
And sat on the beach for a couple of hours and cried.

Today I cried here and there.
I reflected today about the good memories, the memories of things he taught me, the funny memories, the sweet memories, the annoying memories and I was so grateful for all those memories.
Time certainly heals. I can't believe it has actually been a year.
I've spent this past month often remembering what we were doing a year ago.
Thoughts of time spent in service to a man so appreciative.

Someone once told me that they thought about a sister that passed away 25 years ago...EVERYDAY.
I wasn't sure I believed him when he said that.
I can assure you now...he wasn't lying.
There isn't a day that goes by that something reminds me of my brother.
And...I love that.
Some days it makes me tear up, some days I smile, some days I still cry a bit...but I love thinking about him EVERYDAY.

Throughout this year, the thing that most brings a lump to my throat is seeing a man in his 30's with a compromised body....due to cancer, a stroke, a disability, etc.
It's the one thing that makes me want to burst out crying and I'm not sure why.
I know it was the part of his cancer that he fought the most.
I remember the first time I went to help him get ready for his day.
It was my first Tuesday with him not at my house.
He was starting to become more unstable, but determined to still dress himself.
I went in and woke him up to get his day going.
I left him to go get breakfast started.
When I walked back into the room he wasn't sitting there on his bed.
I slowly opened the door and realized he had fallen and couldn't get up....

Thankfully he had pulled a corner of the bedding down over him and we both laughed as he said, "I thought I wouldn't scare you off on your first day of work!" Also when asked why he hadn't yelled for help...he said "he was just resting."

A few snippets from my blog from last year about my brother....

A funny memory....
"Spent the day with Jason yesterday. He is having incredible difficulty communicating again. It makes it so hard and is so heart wrenching. I just want to understand what he is needing or wanting and when he tries so hard and we can't figure it out he just closes his eyes and gives up. I can't blame him. I want his sense of humor back....for all of us. He is eating a lot of orange jello with marshmallows, cool whip and mandarin oranges. Every time I call it pudding....he corrects me! He somehow speaks up then and says "Jello...not pudding!"

A Sweet Lesson Learned.....
"We took a few steps back yesterday with Jason. He wasn't able to swallow well or communicate clearly. At one point, Jill and I thought maybe he could write what he was trying to say since he was trying to talk whenever he was awake. That didn't work too well. All he wrote was "I can't talk clearly and I don't have the ability to write." And, that took some serious deciphering to figure out only to have Jill and I nod and say, "uhuh....we know!"

The night before though, J and I got in another little chat session where he shared some words of wisdom with me. I was telling J that we recently reconnected with an old high school friend and his wife. I told him that I was instantly drawn to them. Loved their chemistry, their commitment to God and enjoyed the little opportunities I had in the past to chat with them. I told J that at a wedding we were all together at, our friend shared with us that their newest member of their family, a little boy, had just been diagnosed with Downs Syndrome. Dave and I, without hesitating, moved one seat closer to them....to chat more. Since the wedding, we have been wanting to get together with them for dinner and are aiming for a summer BBQ soon. That's when J stopped listening and gave me a little advice. He told me to try not to compare too much and to keep it positive!

What great life advice. Try not to compare. And, keep it positive! Words to live by. I told J that was exactly what I was trying to do with this couple at the wedding. In fact, I felt a little odd telling them that we were excited for them to embark on their journey. A journey that is so precious, raising a special little guy. And, we told them to enjoy the journey. Because really that is what life is all about. "In all living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." is a quote I recently stumbled upon and it reminds me of J's motto through this trial of his....To Endure it Well!"

Another Sweet Lesson Learned.....
"Saying our meal prayer Saturday night, Jason offered a beautiful prayer full of gratitude for others and their service. Afterwards I told Jason that I learn something from him every time he prays. Humbly, he said, "a prayer is just what is in your heart." Yet...another lesson."

On Scheduling Chat Time....a Funny Memory....
"Jason is enjoying visitors right now. Lots of them. Tonight he told me that he enjoyed our 'chat time' and thanked me for coming to get our chat time in even though I had a home show to work all day. He then leaned over to my sister, Jill, and said, "Jill, do we need more chat time?" We all giggled and they proceeded to schedule a chat time, that includes two Diet Pepsi's on Tuesday. Then I told him that another friend was wanting to come by to visit. He said that any day this week, Monday through Friday, would work. I asked why Saturday and Sunday wouldn't work. He told me he might not be here. Catching me off guard and making me gasp a little for air, I decided I would throw back at him his own sense of humor. So I asked, "Why, where are YOU going?" and he said, "maybe to a baseball game!" He is still making us laugh even during difficult times."

And two special posts that I hold dear to my heart. Missing Tuesdays and Fridays and Wiping away my Tears.

I can't wait to see him again. I know I will. It brings so much comfort to know where he is right now. Today, not knowing how I would feel, I am just grateful for the sweet memories of my times with my brother that made me smile more than cry. Just wish the lump in my throat would go away though.

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  1. Thank you for your tender journal this past year and a half, that has many times been copied and pasted in my own personal journal portion entitled, "Jason's Journey Home." Your writing and thoughts never disappoint me. It has been a good day...a pensive day...some tears...mostly just tender memories.

  2. Oh my goodness, I am bawling my eyes out. You have such amazing and precious memories of your brother! Sounds like he was an awesome guy (and brother) and I love the positive attitude he had. Thinking of you! xoxo

  3. Thanks for a beautiful post. We are happy to have been a part of Jason's life, and thrilled to be there for his "send-off" last August. Love you all.

    Miss that guy.

  4. Such beautiful words. This is such a sweet tribute to your brother. Thank you for sharing with us.

  5. So glad that you have so many memories with your brother. Sound like he was as amazing spirit. I lost both my parents a few months before giving birth to my first child (6 yrs ago)and I think of them every single day, more than once a day.
    A big hug to you.

  6. What an amazingly poignant post. I can't imagine the strength it took for you to witness your brother's illness, to help him, to go about living your life while knowing what he was going through. But to read about the strength that he had--to remain positive, keep a sense of humor, to remain GRATEFUL--that truly, truly awes and humbles me. Thank you for sharing this, because in doing so you've shared those qualities in him that you love. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for every. single. moment.

    Sending many prayers your way.

  7. Thank you for sharing your heart and Jason's story. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. The sweetest, most thought provoking post April. Thinking of you and your family my friend. With Love, Jessica

  9. Beautiful post April. My heart goes out to you. I can't imagine how you must feel. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  10. april~awwww big hugs to you. thank you for sharing such sweet warm thoughts. it brought tears to my eyes. i lost a sister last sept. and it will be one year on 8/13/11, that we found out her cancer returned. i know exactly how you feel. i miss her everyday.
    blessings to you and your family. xo

  11. Bless you sweet April. I'm so sorry for your loss but so thankful for the sweet memories that you have and have shared on your blog.

    I can't imagine losing my sister. Oh my heart!

    Bless you!

  12. Thought about you & your family throughout the day yesterday...remembering a year ago & wondering how you were all doing on this day. Hugs to all of you!

  13. Thank you for sharing your memories with us. I lost my mom to cancer when I was only 8 years old, and I can tell you I still think of her everyday - and I am now 32. This year has been particularly hard for me because she was my age when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It is bringing up a lot of emotions for me. Hugs to you!

  14. Your brother sounds like an amazing person! I hope to love people as well as you do!

  15. April my heart goes out to you! I'm so sorry for your loss but what a special way to remember him today. I loved reading all your memories. We'll keep you in our prayers!

  16. I am fairly new to your blog, so I didn't know you had a brother pass away. Sadly, I know these feelings all too well. My brother passed on 2 1/2 years ago, he was in his 30's and his name is Jason. Of course I cried reading this post! I still think of him EVERYDAY, and hope that never changes.

    That first year and the first year anniversary are brutal. Someone told me, and I've found it to be true, "you never get over it, you just learn to deal with it better".

    I too, am so grateful that I will see him again. What comfort and promise that brings! Sending hugs to you!

  17. April, what a beautiful post. What a wonderful legacy Jason leaves behind for you and everyone who is honored to read this blog!

  18. I can relate. My brother died at 39 almost 13 years ago and I miss him every day. God be with us 'til we meet again.


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