Some words for my cousin, who was laid to rest beneath the Missouri ground today.
Hey Brad, I’ve written this as quickly as possible – because the longer I think about you being gone, the harder it is to accept. The harder it is to keep myself from breaking down in tears. The harder it is to keep anger away – to stop shaking my fists at the sky and cursing the day we lost you. My apologies if this isn’t very polished, but I know you’d understand.
I should start off with saying that you weren’t perfect Brad, but by god you were ours. We share the same blood, the same grandparents, and some of the same memories from childhood. Loving you was easy as children because of who you were. Smile painted on. Humble but confident. The sun danced in your eyes when you’d laugh. Eyes that were innocent and ornery all at once.
You were exactly the kind of little cousin that all big cousins need – and I, for one, always looked forward to summers or winter holidays spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s simply because I knew I’d get to see you and Brandon. Seeing you guys was better than spending the day at Disneyland. It was a gift. And, even as a child, I understood just how important and how fleeting our time together was.
We’d run around all day outside. In the heat, or the cold… and after dark we’d catch fireflies and keep them in jars. We’d watch them buzz around in those jars and then feel bad for them and set them free. All the while watching until the magical lights in their tails would extinguish into the vast dark night sky above us.
Like a firefly in a jar – Brad, we have to set you free and you have to fly away. Your light is a memory that I will always hold tight. I promise you I will keep our precious memories locked in a special place in my heart, revisiting them often and smiling for thinking of you.
From the little boy who started out shy and quiet, to the big man who loved the land and working with his hands, you’re a million sweet memories left in the minds of many, many people. And Brad, saying goodbye isn’t easy. In fact, it sucks. This is so hard to understand. You’ve left four beautiful babies and so many more people missing you. Thinking about your kids without you as they grow is heart breaking. But it is their reality now. I know you’ll look after them, and over them as they grow.
The last time we were together it was a warm summer’s day at our family reunion and you were telling me about your farm. Your work. Your family. Your pride and joy in life was infectious. My biggest sadness is knowing the next time we all gather, you won’t be there. I’ll never see that big grin. Never tease you about your belt buckle again. But you will live on in us.
Fly high, Brad. And know how much you were loved and will be missed. From New Zealand to Missouri, I love you, little firefly cousin. Until we meet again…