As I sit in the dark listening to rain pouring down, watching lightning fill the sky and hearing the crack and rumble of thunder, I’m thinking about the day ahead. We bury a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend.  My emotions are all over the place and the storm is a metaphor for how my heart feels.  The pouring rain represents all the tears being shed. The rumble is for deep laughter now only enjoyed in memory. And the sky full of light is his presence still shining in our lives.

My father died 20 years ago and I still remember the pain like it was yesterday. Years later I am dealing with death differently, but the shock of his sudden passing still lives in my memory.  I think of all that I wish he could share in my life. I remember the strength of his hands. And always close to my heart are his joy and laughter.

I drank my feelings away back then and today I am allowing myself to feel them completely.  I give myself permission to cry, to feel the pain.  I know that a drink will not help deaden the pain, but only add misery and regret to my life.  I can be there for others and not be selfish about what I want, knowing today that it’s not all about me. In my memories I give my brother the respect he deserves, rather than use his death it as an excuse to get wasted.

When a loved one passes away and memories are shared, I am reminded of all the unique ways each of us touch others in our lives.  Through his journey in life my dad found the Lord, passed on the Word to others, and lived to inspire and encourage others to do the same.  He had the gift of gab.  When you were in his presence, he gave you an ear full of kind words, always with a few words about the Grace of God thrown in. He was never pushy, but said just enough to raise your awareness of his love for people and God.

Leaving a legacy is a statement that I have heard throughout this week. How do we want to be remembered and what is our purpose in life?  I don’t know if I’ll ever know for sure what the answer is for me, but I do know that I have a choice as to how I want to act or react to situations.  Having my mind clear and not filled with the fog of a substance is something I have control of today and I do not want to give it away. My legacy, as it is for my dad and for my brother, may be as simple as how I show up – for myself and for others.

I have shared some beautiful moments with my brother since my recovery and for them I am so grateful.  When I was using I did not want to hear about God because I felt I was not living a life worthy of His Love.  Because my brother was a real estate agent, I spent many hours roaming the country with him looking for the ranch of my dreams.  I was able to listen, take in what I needed to hear and let the rest go.  His journey wasn’t a recovery from alcohol, but he did recover from a few of his own demons into a life that had a purpose, grace and joy.

Thank you, Bob, for all your wisdom, support and kindness throughout my journey. You will forever live in my soul.