What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.~ Albert Pike
I am the youngest of six children. We are all have different personalities and process life and death differently. Losing our brother has affected each of us deeply. We have been given the choice to continue to drift through life on our own or alter our course and seize the opportunity to support one another and be the family we always could and should have been. I think this has been a wake up call to us about family and relationships. I’m not saying that we haven’t been there for one another when it counted. I’m saying we can look back and reflect on our own lives and the legacy of our brother and make the most of our future together. We have much to learn from our brother’s life in the way of acceptance, forgiveness, love, and generosity.
I think each of us learned a bit about our brother that we didn’t know. We knew he had a soft and kind heart. We knew he loved passionately and was loved in return. We had no idea how many lives he touched or the impact he had on the Spanish community in his area. We were all so busy living our own lives that we didn’t take time to intimately connect with his extended family. As unfortunate as these circumstances are, we have been blessed to get to know this family and community throughout this time. They are wonderful people of tremendous faith. I’ve always thought family was important, but I am learning through my brother’s example that family is not limited to the unit you were born into or the community in which you were raised. Family is built with mutual love, respect, trust, and acceptance.
If Monte didn’t have anything good to say, he said nothing at all. He didn’t point fingers or hold grudges. He simply accepted people for who they were and forgave those who caused him pain. He had a Christian heart long before he professed his faith. He is an example that we should live for one another not for things. He had his priorities in life straight…he knew that love mattered most of all.
I had never thought about losing a sibling until my brother became ill. I still didn’t know how I would feel when I lost him. At first it felt as if I was being scraped with a knife from the inside out. Yes, the fabric of our family has been torn…we have a hole that can’t be filled. Though our family might never be the same without Monte, we can take all that he has left us and learn how to love more completely. We can even stretch our fabric to include this wonderful extended family and enrich the future for each of us. We have the power to take these seeds and plant a beautiful flower garden. Knowing that I was a flower in his garden and knowing his fragrance lingers fills me with peace.
Sometimes in life, and also in death, things happen that we have no answers to explain. As always, I pick things apart and try to find reason. Though I have no answer, I do know that Monte’s life was not in vain. He both lived and loved to life’s fullest measure. His heart is a shining example of what I’d like mine to be. I hope that we each take these lessons he has left for us and apply them. I don’t think he’d want anyone to let selfishness or pride get in the way of loving one another as we should. It is never too late to apologize and make amends, nor is it ever to late to accept them and build from there. Life is short, and we’re here to love one another.
My life has been far from perfect. I know I have said and done things I greatly regret. I hope I am forgiven. Though I never hesitate to tell the people I love how I feel about them, I hope my love shows in my actions. I pray that I have the ability to pause before I act, so that I live a life of grace.