Love, Family, Joy, and Grief: Saying Goodbye

“Why love what you will lose?
There is nothing else to love.”
~Louise Glück

I said goodbye to my brother this past weekend.  Bill, who wasn’t my brother by birth but by choice and childhood proximity, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last summer. The doctors told him he probably wouldn’t survive past Thanksgiving. He did.

He not only survived; on some days he thrived. He turned a negative into a positive and decided to live each day with as much “good energy, prayer, and positive thinking” that he could muster up. He not only buoyed up his own spirit, but he also cheered up everyone else around him. His Facebook posts were inspiring. On the days he had chemotherapy, Bill reminded everyone to please pray for the children who were sick and undergoing rigorous chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

He loved children. And dogs. And cats. And birds. There was not a stray animal that Bill did not take in to care for and love. He was kind like that. His heart was fiercely strong until the very end. Everyone said it was because he was such a young man–57. That may be true, but I believe his heart was so strong because it was so filled with love. Love for life. Love for animals. And love for people. Mostly animals:)

Bill will be sorely missed. I say that knowing what a cliché it is at a time such as this. But it’s true. He will be sorely missed. The world is a little dimmer, a little less positive, a little less funny, and a little less joyful now that he’s gone.

What remains? The memories of witty remarks, funny retorts, inside jokes, shared secrets, mornings spent on the back porch drinking coffee, and evenings spent on the front porch drinking sweet tea. And who could forget that look he gave when his BS meter turned on. 

Bill is gone, but never forgotten. 

Keep praying for the children who are sick. Next time you start to complain, try to muster up some good energy or a sarcastic comment or a prayer, and breathe…be grateful you are alive. Use your life to uplift others.

13754291_10207230632506475_980723250034514642_n“We shake with joy, we shake with grief. What a time they have, these two
housed as they are in the same body.” 
~Mary Oliver269144_1891167001247_3614771_n“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”
~Richard Bach


(Photo by Cindy Burns)

img_1263“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
~Will Rogers


28 thoughts on “Love, Family, Joy, and Grief: Saying Goodbye

  1. What a moving tribute to Bill. So full of love. Thank you for sharing. I lost my Father to pancreatic cancer two years ago and many of the poems I have written on my poetry blog are about him in case you have time to look? Festive greetings, Sam 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so sorry for this loss. What I find most remarkable about this blessed man is his ability and wish to share so much love with his leaving. I have a dear friend who died this past December of adrenal cancer and she chose the same end of days, living what time she had with as much grace and love and laughter as she could muster. I believe our lives are changed immeasurably with our having had them here for however long we could get.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this post. My sister is battling a second recurrence of metastasized breast cancer and I can completely relate to the Mary Oliver quote. You have captured the brother of your heart very well. Rest in peace and laughter, Bill. Clearly, you were well-loved.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cheryl, I have felt your heavy heart all day since seeing this post. Something I read last night came to me that I’d like to share with you…

    “Straw dogs were used in ancient times for rituals, and then discarded after use. It is a striking metaphor when we consider how we are similar to the straw dogs. We are here to go through the ritual called life; when the ritual is done there is no further use for the physical body, so it is discarded.” This is part of the translation of the 5th verse in the Tao Te Ching by Derek Lin. It enhanced my understanding of what we call the life/death cycle. I hope it will offer some comfort to you as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Spot on, my friend! Please know that Bill will forever be in the hearts of many, never forgotten. His life on earth will be cherished and the meaning of his life can never be forgotten. Bill lived, he laughed, but most remembered, he loved.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What better eulogy could a person have than one such as this – you have painted such an image that I too feel the world must be just a little dimmer for his going. I was recently asked how I would like to be remembered. My answer surprised even me in the moment. ‘That you would smile when you think of me.’ I believe your brother of choice will raise that smile in time. Right now, I am sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What beautiful sentiments you have shared about your kindred brother. While photos will keep alive the memories of the deep relationship you shared with Bill, paying forward his positive life force will make his beautiful spirit everlasting.

    I had pancreatic surgery nearly 4 years ago and was cancer free, thank God. However, my best friend of 25+ years passed away a year later from pancreatic cancer. It is challenging to understand these things. We can never know what someone else’s journey is.

    My heartfelt wishes to you during this uneasy time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am so sorry. What you’ve written, and the photos you have shared, are so moving! My mom has stage four Parkinson’s, and on some days I am so sad after seeing her. Then I remind myself how lucky I am that I can go and walk with her a short distance most days.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That was beautiful Cheryl. My heart goes out to all of you and everyone That he touched. I didn’t know him well but everytime we met out he always said hello asked how I was doing and chatted for a few. I know exactly how it feels to lose someone that was like a brother(William) life is alot sadder without them but they are both cancer free now and enjoying their heavenly lives.

    Liked by 1 person

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