Monday, March 17, 2014

If he were still alive

five years

FIVE years


I remember a dear friend of mine telling me a few years ago how she hated the anniversaries of her mom’s death. She didn't want it to be a whole year that had passed.  She didn’t want it to be 2 years later. She didn’t want it to be FIVE years since her mom had left this earth to be in heaven. She didn’t want it to be that long.

It’s strange. It’s hard to describe. It’s hard to understand.  Each passing year accentuates the fact that life on this earth is so unsubstantial. So, temporary. So fleeting. It accentuates that death is imminent for each and every one of us, but that with our own death, it will simply not impact the rest of the world from moving on.

When Brian first passed, it seemed incomprehensible that life could go on without him. It seemed only fitting that each event would be scattered with “if Brian were here” sentiments. It seemed impossible to imagine ever going on a vacation without him, to celebrate without him, to entertain without him, to just GO ON without him. It seemed as if we were SUPPOSED to sprinkle a memorial tribute to Brian into everything we did. Earlier on it was as if everything the boyz and I did was because “Brian would want us to.” The idea of doing things because “we want to” felt like nearly an insult to his memory.

I’m not really sure when it changed. It wasn’t an event or moment. It was a process of accepting our new life without Brian. It was an evolution into our family structure from living "for what it was" to living "in what it is." I don’t remember when the feelings of guilt began to subside.  Not that they ever totally go away, but they do fade. I suspect there will never be a day that some guilt for moving on doesn’t creep in.

As life without Brian has become “normal” in the last few years, this 5 year anniversary mark has caused me to pause at what life would be like if he were still here. There are the OBVIOUS things that would be so different if he were alive, like we would still be married, and he would be at family events and such. However, what I have really reflected upon, is how different certain things would be if he still had every day involvement.

  1.  With respect to the boyz, I know Brian would have handled all the minor and major discipline issues I have dealt with over the last few years with great patience, a firm hand, healthy boundaries and realistic but challenging expectations. I know he wouldn’t have lost his temper as often as I had. I know he would have remained logical and fair when I fly off the handle and find myself having a heated argument with my disrespectful tweenagers. In short, he would have kept his cool and modeled an example of discipline that mirrors the kind that God gives to His people. That’s just the way Brian did things.
  2.  I know my boyz would have more confidence and would be more comfortable with who they are and who they can be. Brian was uncharacteristically confident in a humble way in himself. He was incredibly comfortable in his own skin and it was apparent to all around him. The boyz would have emulated that same confidence. Instead, they are often awkward, or showing off or simply oddly quiet at times.  I look at them so often and lament the young men that the WOULD be if Brian were here to make his mark on them. As it is, there are often times when I JUST DON’T GET THEM.
  3.  I know my boyz would be better athletes. They would spend more time outside and playing at a level appropriate to their abilities. They are both better athletes than me and I can provide them opportunities, but I cannot coach or assist them. Plus they do not take instruction from me very well. Brian would have easily been able to guide them and challenge them and have fun with them.
  4.  I know Brian would have LOVED and enjoyed the fact that each boy shares a little bit in each of the hobbies that he loved and enjoyed. From sports, to nature to a funny flick, the boyz , as they grow up are developing their passions. Brian would have been wonderful at honing in with Grant on target shooting, hunting and he would have thoroughly enjoyed the trail aspects of his program – orienteering, the safety and logic portions. He would have been passionate about learning to shoot a bow right along next to his son.  He would have loved watching a movie with Gavin laughing at the same ridiculously stupid parts out loud. It would have been beautiful to witness.
  5.  I know my boyz would be better students. Brian was the teacher between us. He was more patient and had a better ability to explain things in practical ways. He was approachable and helpful. He would have been eager to sit along next to them where they struggle and be involved in their studies.
  6. I know the boyz would get along better. Brian had a fantablulous relationship with his two brothers. They shared a camaraderie and the same dry sense of humor and very similar interests - fishing, shooting, music, tie dye. But more importantly, they each had and still have a strong sense of loyalty and respect for each other. They get along and when push comes to shove (and even when it doesn't), they have GOT EACH OTHER's BACKS. I cannot say the same for my boyz. The bicker and torment and pester like normal siblings, but some days they are downright MEAN to each other and are more jealous than happy for each other. Brian would never have tolerated that and he would have shaped their relationship into a more mutually respectful and caring relationship that celebrated the others accomplishments and differences. 
  7.  I know they would have a better appreciation for music. Their musical interests would be 80% old and obscure music and 20% pop/top 40 instead of the flip flopped ratio that is today. He probably would have taken up guitar right along with them. He would have LOVED that his boyz were learning an instrument because, while he had almost none, never playing an instrument was a regret of Brian’s.
  8.  I know that Brian would never have made the same mistakes I have. I know that 5 years after my death, Brian would be comfortably involved and established with a good woman that shared his values, faith and sense of humor and one that balanced him well. He would not have wasted 6 months of his life with love interests that deep down he knew were wrong twice like I did. He NEVER would have married someone that he had a slight reservation about. He was simply too smart and too practical and too intuitive for that.  He knew what he wanted and he didn’t compromise. He wouldn’t have been judgmental and would have tried things out, but he wouldn’t have wasted more than 2 months of his time with someone that wasn’t right.  I am confident of that.
Regardless how I feel about how things would be different, the fact is that, currently, they aren't. I can't make sense of why God would choose to take Brian from this world and from his boyz. Thing is, though, I stopped trying to make sense of it. Who am I to question God's sovereignty, and judgement? NO ONE, that's who! So, I continue to trust. As I wax nostalgic of what life would be like if Brian were still alive, one thing that can happen is that I can make positive changes in my life and in my boyz' lives to emulate what we would be like if Brian were still involved.

 INot because Brian would have wanted it that way.

But because that's they way I want it and that's the way it should be.



  1. I love it Angie! And don't beat yourself up, either. The boyz are great and so are you.

  2. 5 years. WOW. Yes, things would be different, but you are doing it! You are here and present and doing it each and every day. xoxo

  3. You know, I agree. Things would be different if Brian were still alive. But I don't think that you've done a bad job on your own either. The things that you see as mistakes or errors or foul-ups in how you have lived, raised the boys, etc are just the things that will make them become the rich, amazing, wonderful adult men that they are growing into. Don't discount your parenting skills or your instinct. You're doing an awesome job!

  4. What we do know is that you love your boyz and do the very best you can. Wishing you happiness.

  5. pretty nice blog, following :)

  6. You're right it doesn't make sense to us from our view in this little snapshot of time. But you've gone on from there anyway, your way, beautifully. <3

  7. I don't think you have done bad thing. What you did is awesome. May God continue to bless a good heart like yours!

  8. Just saw this. Believe me, you have NO IDEA what sort of boys they would be right now if Brian were still alive. And I could bet good money that, no matter their model, they would be awkward and not so confident at this point in their lives. So give yourself some credit for simply soldiering on; at some time in the future, they will both look back and marvel at how strong and courageous you were. You have modeled to them the value of simply showing up, day after day, even when you feel you can't; and you have taught them how to recover from mistakes. Those are valuable life lessons!

  9. Alright sister. Time for a blog update. If you're going to keep this one up, that is!

  10. Just checked in and found this posting. I know that you and the boyz had a wonderful holiday season.
    Keep listening to God and He will show you the way.
    Karen in Ohio

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