I am the only girl in a family with three boys. So, although I was outnumbered, I felt as if I always had a fortress around me, as a child and even as an adult. I knew I could always call on any brother if I needed anything and through the years, they have each helped in so many ways.
I have been trying to picture in my own mind what I have been feeling since my brother Gary passed away on March 10th. It is the little everyday experiences that bring mental images of what life is today without him. This weekend, as we were together as a family following his memorial service, I had a mental flash of a chain with a link missing. Gary was such a connector of people, and he was the connector of the rest of us to his children for the past 50 years of their lives. He was the one who would keep us informed of all that was happening in their lives. He would tell us of their struggles and brag about their successes. I watched the glimmer in his eye dim a little last fall when his oldest daughter died. That link is gone, but what do we do when a chain loses a link? The old link is removed and the chain is continued by connecting with the next link. The chain is never the same as it was because it is now one link shorter and maybe not as strong, but the connection is still there. I was speaking to my nephew while at the Memorial Service and we were talking about his children and one in particular. I remember seeing her during a recent visit with her grandfather and the love they exchanged. He so loved his children and grandchildren, and we cannot let the chain remain severed in any way. Gary’s link is gone, but the chain continues through his children and the legacy he left. It is a choice we have as family members to reconnect the separated links.
Then another mental flash this morning.
I awoke this morning with a mental picture of a 4-legged stool with a leg missing. The family stability has been altered. The 4th voice, opinion, laughter, corny joke.. is no longer there. Each of us has our memories of years gone by that we would laugh about and sometimes jokingly embellish to get our point across. His contribution of memories is gone. That belly laugh and one liner response is gone. How I would love to hear it one more time. I can see his face each time he would tease me by saying “you’re just jealous because we have a sister and you don’t.” We will miss that wonderful smile!
So, what do we do? We must reposition the legs of the stool to become balanced again. Evidence of his “leg” remains in the base of the stool, unmistakably indicating he was once there. But now there are three. We never forget what he was and we treasure every moment we had with Gary.
I am so thankful that because Gary made the choice to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior, we do not grieve as those with no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Life is just a trial run preparing us for eternity. This life is where we make our decision of how we will spend eternity. There are only two options, with God or without Him. We take comfort in the fact that we will see Gary again and I suppose he is making a lot of reconnections now. It is interesting how God allows us a glimpse into His Presence before our time arrives. Gary always told us to pray for his healing until he had his visitation with his angel a couple of days before he passed away. His then said to me “I want to go home.” God knows exactly what we need in every moment of life.
So now there are three and each day is a special gift to us. I thank God for my three brothers and what they have meant through the years and continue to mean everyday of my life. The loss of one only reminds us of the need to love each other more. We overlook our mistakes and faults and focus on the “God-deposits” inside of each of us. With this in mind, I am reminded of a Scripture that says, “a three-strand cord is not easily broken” Eccl. 4:12
A tribute to my brother, Gary Bradshaw July 24, 1951-March 10, 2021.