You don’t know me, but I’m your brother

[Y]ou don’t know me, but I’m your brother.

I’m sorry about The Doobie Brothers reference.

Anyway, recently — on a Sunday after church — I went for a walk.The air was cold. It was the kind of cold which makes normal people freak right out and turn their heaters up high enough to make Satan sweat, but I was comfortable.

I walked to a little stone bench and sat down.

I stayed there for a while, but I never said a word.

I don’t talk to tombstones.

There’s nothing wrong with it, but I guess I never have because I know you aren’t there.

I know some other things about you, too.

I know you changed Sharon’s name to Mama. I know David became Daddy because of you.

They were young, in their 20s, when you came along.

They enjoyed you. I can tell by the picture.

They loved you. They love you still. A parent’s love never leaves.

You are their first baby.

You took your last breath on their first wedding anniversary.

They don’t celebrate their anniversary much, apart from a date.

I don’t know exactly what goes through their minds when the day rolls around each year, but I know they think about you.

I think about you, too, sometimes.

I wonder if we would’ve gotten to play catch or go fishing.

I wonder what we would have talked about.

I wonder what you’d be like today.

I don’t know why I can count the number of days God gave you on two hands.

I do know God has used those days to make a lot of difference in a lot of lives.

He still uses you.

Somehow, in the midst of pain no parent ever wants to imagine, God gave our parents the strength to move forward.

Now, your story is told with the hope it helps parents in similar situations find even the smallest measure of comfort.

I’ve seen how God has used your story. Once I found sense enough to really pay attention, I learned something profound.

Our parents’ pain has helped bring others peace.

Their story — and your story — has changed the way I look at some things in my life.

You’re a big reason why I know there is no grief too great for God to use it for good.

I don’t mean to say I don’t question things sometimes. I do. I wonder why things work out the way they do, or why they don’t work out at all.

The difference is, now I also wonder how those things could impact others down the road.

Maybe I’ve been happy so I can know what it means to rejoice with others.

Maybe I’ve been sad so I can share in others’ sadness when they need it.

Maybe my heart has been broken so I’ll be able to help people pick up the pieces of theirs.

Maybe I’ve learned what love is so I can show love to those who need it.

Your life on this earth was short, but you’ve had a long-lasting influence.

You have parents who will never forget the time they had with you. You have a brother and a sister who never met you, but we know about you.

You have two nieces, and a nephew on the way. He’ll carry your name in the middle of his own.

There’s a heart-shaped rock in the corner of a church cemetery with your name on it.

When I see it, I think about you.

I think about our parents, their strength and how God has used them since you left.

I think about what it must be like to be in a place more wonderful than I can understand.

I’m excited to meet you there.

12 thoughts on “You don’t know me, but I’m your brother”

  1. Oh Casey. Tears again. For the little boy you introduced us to in this column. For the pain your sweet parents have had to endure. For the sorrow you and your sister have shared through the years. For the part of your life that will always be missing. And for myself and so many others like us who relate and understand because of our own losses. But I also reserved a tear of joy because of you – the fine young man who has overcome adversity to shine his light in a mighty way. Your beautiful words and writing style attest to your talent and your character. You are a gifted writer and storyteller. From working with you for several years at The Sun, I know you can ably write anything. But Casey, I think you’ve found your true calling in column-writing. I am so proud of you.

  2. This column was very meaningful to us. Our grandson, being married to your sister and giving us three great grands, has made us a part of your family. It is good now to know more about “our” family whom we have come to admire and appreciate! It was a blessing to learn about Joshua and where our great grandson’s name came from. Thank you Casey for sharing.

  3. Casey I sit here reading your work smiling because you are one of “my” kids and also thinking of conversations at youth camps six flag trips and I’m motel rooms. Whatg a gift you have and what a pleasure itf is to read. Blessings to you my friend Lee walton.

  4. With my own history and too many tombstones with the names of our first 4 children on them, I can soooooooo relate to what you have written here, to the God that strengthened your parents to continue along. Casey, I’m blessed to have worked in the same newsroom with you — you, yourself, are quite an inspiration. Your writing is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Oh Casey, How you move me with your writing ! There are few writers that make me feel so much from their presentation of the written word as you do. You just blow me away with your grasp of the human heart & the God we serve that helps us through the grief we sometime are called to bear. Thanks for sharing this precious piece.

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