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This Time I Won’t Blink

Last month my second cousin Brandon was killed in a motorcycle crash. He was 27 years old. I didn’t tell you guys about it because I just couldn’t find the words. I didn’t know him very well in the sense that I wasn’t intimate with the daily details of his life. You know how that is, as families grow it gets harder and harder to stay connected with everyone. But I knew who he was as a person, and I know what the world is now missing.

His mother, my cousin Monica, wrote a beautiful eulogy that she agreed to let me share with you. I have so many thoughts and feelings about what Monica says here, that once again I just can’t find the right words to express myself. So I’ll let her words speak for themselves.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

On December 1, 1985, his father, Bob, and I were lucky enough to have been blessed with the birth of a beautiful baby boy.  And when I say beautiful, I do mean beautiful. After already having a beautiful daughter (and once again, I do mean beautiful) I knew my life was now complete.  Boy, was I wrong, but I’ll tell you about that later.

As a parent you have so many things to do for a small child: feed and nurture them, teach them how to walk, drink from a cup, how to hold utensils, how to use the potty, how to play nice. Branden excelled at all of these things. Well, except for the potty thing…that took a little time.

You blink your eyes and then one day it is time for them to go to school. And then it is a whole new set of things to teach them. How to read, how to write, how to do math, science and history. How to do their homework (AND TURN IT IN ON TIME). Branden always struggled a bit with that one. They then start having friends away from your view, and yet another whole set of lessons need to be taught. How to be caring and loving. How to be respectful to others. How to be trusting of others. How to stand up for the underdog and be a good friend. (Jamie and Branden both excelled greatly at this). Much better than the homework thing. And then once again, you blink and then come new lessons to be taught. How to drive. How an 11:00 curfew really means 11:00. (Once again the curfew thing was  a struggle for both Jamie and Branden). How to be careful and responsible for your actions. To be considerate of other people’s feelings and own up to both your mistakes and your achievements. That was an easy enough lesson for both the kids.

Then comes the blink. Your children are now adults and want to be anywhere but home where all the rules and the parents are. They move out. I remember Doug and I both trying to figure out what to do after Branden decided to move out. We were so used to having he and his multitude of friends making so much noise playing music (you see band practice was always at our house). Well it took Doug and I about 3 short weeks to figure out… we could do whatever we wanted!

We were both so proud of Branden for buying a house at the age of 21. And even though Branden had moved out, we had the privilege of working with him every day. So we got to see him all the time. It was at that time Branden turned the tables on us. Being parents we still thought we had lessons to teach. And we still had a few but for the most part our teaching careers were over.

Now enter Branden the man. And guess what….he was the teacher. Only the lessons were different. Branden taught Doug and I both…the importance of “LIVING LIFE LARGE”, following your dreams until you find them, giving all to what you believe in, not to judge a book by its cover, to take life very slow and absorb all you can from it. And of course, “it is not about what the T-shirt says, it’s about the man behind it, and holes and piercings are a good thing.” I will live the rest of my life with these lessons in my heart and mind. Well, all except the holes and piercings one. I still struggle with that.

Now back to my life being complete… I now know what I thought about my life feeling totally complete after having Branden was wrong. My life was only completed after my two wonderful children had children of their own. I then had the privilege of watching them teach the all so many lessons to be taught. And much to my surprise (you see I was certain they had not been paying proper attention….they had). Branden and Jamie both turned out to be wonderful parents with wonderful and beautiful (yes, beautiful) children.

Regrets and sorrow, yes I have regrets and sorrow where Branden and Jamie are concerned. (Jamie, I will express mine with you later). I regret I wasn’t there to hold my son when he drew his last breath. I regret I didn’t see him for the man he was sooner (you see he was still my baby). I regret I didn’t encourage him to follow every dream he had (well most of them anyway). I still don’t think the tattoos, piercings and corn beef shop would have worked out. And I am sorry his life was taken too soon. I am sorry that he will not get to experience seeing his children grow up. I am certain he would have loved it.

“No parent should ever have to suffer the loss of their child”. Doug and I have heard that said too many times, but never truly understood in until now. We now know the kind of pain and loss my mom, Doug’s mom, James, Rosemary, Janet, Joe and Virginia, Mae and Bob have suffered. I hope none of you have to endure this kind of loss. It leaves a hole in your heart that can never be filled. A good friend of ours sent me a message last night that said this:

“Remember some days it’s a day at a time. Some days it’s a step at a time. And some days it’s a breath at a time. There will be days you will not want to get out of bed, but do…because he would have wanted you to.”

Thank you Gale for those words.

In closing I would like to say I know my son was truly happy. I am certain he knew how much he was loved by both Doug and I, and all of you. I know he is now being taken care of by his other parent, and they are playing guitars in heaven. Although I am certain they are having serious discussion over the music choices, and if my brother George gets involved who knows what direction it will go.

Rest easy my son, because you are with some of the greatest. Stay cradled in God’s arms. I promise to watch over and love the kids in your absence. I know we will be together again someday, and I promise I will let you finish teaching me…and this time I won’t blink.

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. That was a beautiful eulogy. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    May 2, 2013
    • Thank you – it was beautiful, wasn’t it? She wrote it from her heart.

      May 2, 2013
  2. I wish I could find the right words…her beautiful eulogy let me feel I knew this young man just a little. Such a great loss- I am so sorry.

    May 2, 2013
    • I hope I can keep in my heart his example of living big and being exactly who he was.

      May 2, 2013
  3. Sobbing at the kitchen table. I cannot fathom having to part with one of my kids.

    May 2, 2013
    • I know.

      May 2, 2013
    • Monica Cook #

      Stop sobbing, you silly, silly girl.

      May 2, 2013
  4. Monica Cook #

    Michelle…thanks so much for sharing this with everyone. I wrote this in the wee hours of the morning, with a heart full of love and no one else around. At first I didn’t think I would be able to do this, but then, I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing this. There is no doubt how much I love (still can’t talk in past tense yet) my son. I can now say that I know how much he is loved by everyone. So many people shared so many of their experiences with Branden with both Doug and I. That is what comforts me at night…thoughts of his kindness, tenderness, devotion and heart. The selfish side of me would give anything to hold him in my arms just one more time and tell him how much I love him…but then I remember I always have him in my heart.

    May 2, 2013
    • Thank you for letting me share it. It was very beautifully written and we can feel your love for Brandon – for both your kids – in it.

      May 2, 2013
  5. so sad. So beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    May 2, 2013
  6. This is beautiful. I can’t even imagine what it takes to sit down and organize your thoughts after such a terrible thing has just occurred, and be able to pen down something so beautiful.

    May 5, 2013
  7. I’m so sorry. What amazing resolve to eulogize her own son. That’s tremendously difficult. My heart goes out to his family, his children and you.

    May 5, 2013
    • Thank you. She is pretty amazing in general, I think.

      May 5, 2013
  8. So sorry for your family’s loss. I can’t imagine losing a child. What a beautiful eulogy.

    May 6, 2013
  9. MawMaw #

    Thanks Michelle for posting Monica’s beautiful eulogy for Branden. I still can’t read it without breaking down. Branden’s service was so full of his energy and his life, it was truly the most moving experience. The service was truly a celebration of his life. Monica is truly a remarkable woman, wife and mother. This eulogy shows her strength and love of her family.

    May 12, 2013
    • I’m glad she let me share it. There was a lot to learn from what she wrote, and I think from how he lived.

      May 12, 2013

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