A Rose In The Garden

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.

56 thoughts on “A Rose In The Garden

  1. How true your post is and it will touch many lives and hearts today. Our family has always been close, too the point that some who loved and knew us felt threatened by it. We also found a new closeness when our family was hit with the big C-cancer word. Life is way to short not to enjoy the ones that God has put in your pathway and family – grab on to life, enjoy the day and get the best out of it as often as you can. I cannot image what your family is going through, you have lost a twig from your life tree – the good part, the memories and the love will always be there.

    Praying for you and your famil.

    • Linda, I love watching the interaction between you sister on FB. You guys have held tight and supported one another through this. I will be walking Relay in Nelson this year for Monte so I will be visiting with you gals!

    • Thank you so much. We certainly appreciate those prayers. It was a beautiful service and my folks held strong, but I know there are still difficult days ahead.

  2. There is nothing wrong with being so busy with your life you don’t get to know everything about another’s life. LIFE IS BUSY. That happens. Sounds almost as if Monte had such a large community that you couldn’t have possibly known all about it anyway. Also could be that he didn’t want you to know . . . in the sense that he was a humble man and didn’t feel others needed to know all the great things he did? I don’t know, Sweet Suzi, I am just sharing another way to look at it. I don’t know if you feel guilty for not knowing, but I know that I have felt guilty sometimes for not knowing everything about my friends/family. But it really isn’t possible.

    I sometimes believe that God does things like that to help with the pain and sorrow caused by the loss. You are devastated that your brother has died, yet you are buoyed by the fact that he touched so many. Remember when Angelia’s grandmother (?) fell in the grave? It was a child’s funeral and the grandmother just disappeared. She said they laughed. I think that God does that on purpose. Hearts would just shatter into a million pieces unable to be put back together if there wasn’t something to easy the pain. If there wasn’t something to distract us and to allow us to focus on, I don’t think death of a loved one would be survivable.

    The opportunity this has provided for mending of fences could be a focus that helps you all get through this.

    Please understand that I don’t KNOW anything, I am just sharing, just trying to give you ideas and agree with you and let you know I am so sorry for your loss. I always have to focus on any positive I can find otherwise I couldn’t make it through the loss.


    • I know I couldn’t know everything, just wish I’d given him more time. However, it’s ok…he wouldn’t want me to feel guilty. I know I can make a change to be there for others.

  3. We never know when something can happen. My wife’s last words to her son was no. He wanted to give her a hug. They had been “discussing” the issue of him going out with his friends. She said no. He left anyway. The next time she saw him he was in the hospital brain dead. She had to give the ok to end all treatments by herself. Her ex- was doing who knows what. As I said to my Pastor one day she will leave at it will not be ok. Its coming to all of us. There are no easy answers with this stuff. If there were somebody smarter than me would have wrote a book and made billions.

    • So very sad. We never know the future, and we can’t change the past. I hope I can live less selfishly and give more of myself to others. I’ve gotten to a point that I really enjoy my alone time…maybe I really don’t need quite so much of it.

  4. A lovely heart felt post. I sometimes need reminding of this. I have a few people in my life that I would like to be more like – generous of spirit and caring of others, but sometimes it takes a forceful reminder that this will only happen if I work at it.

  5. You’ve shared so many valuable lessons in this post, Suzi.

    “I think this has been a wake up call to us about family and relationships.”

    I agree, because while experiencing the death of my father many years ago, this is the same thing I learned. Going through something like this, clears away all the nonsense that we all seem to focus on; bringing what’s REALLY important to the surface.

    “…he knew that love mattered most of all.”


    Even though I never met your brother, just from talking to Peg and reading your recent posts here about Monty, I can see that he was an exceptionally beautiful human being.

    I feel touched just by knowing him through you.

    Thank you so much for sharing this post, my friend!

    ((((( Suzi )))))


    • It is heartbreaking that it takes death sometimes to wake us up. Peggy read me your email message over the phone…thank you,my friend. Monte was very special. Hugs right back at you.

  6. A very beautiful message, SuziCate. Sometimes it seems one of the reasons for death is to teach the living how to live. Though there are role models around, we sometimes don’t notice them until they are gone and we take time to reflect on what their lives have meant to us and others. Death makes us slow down and process.

    Your brother sounds like a special person.

    • I think many people teach us in death…and how much they could teach us in life if we’d just be observant. Yes, he was special and he will live on in the hearts of many.

  7. Beautifully written Suzi. Let’s just hope that those who need it most take what they need from it and learn to love and let go of animosity and envy. I am so thankful to have you for my sister.

  8. He sounds like a wonderful man who lead a full and happy life. Great tribute to him, don’t look back with regret, Suzi, he wouldn’t have wanted that.

  9. Thank you for sharing this, Suzicate. It’s so true. And lovely. Especially the part about family being more than the people we are related to. It makes me think about my own life and what I can do better. It also sounds like Monte was one awesome person. Thank you!


  10. losing a sibling is extremely painful, there is no doubt about that. its in a sense hits on two grounds, first you realize that how close death is, and second you lose someone who has been in your life since god knows when!

    may god fill your heart with peace and calm.
    lots of love.

    • I also have two teacher (fourth grade and 10th grade) who greatly influenced me and to this day we are still in touch through Christmas cards and occasional other times. We each touch more than we know.

  11. I’ve been MIA lately to other blogs and missed your post about your brother. I’m so sorry. Sharing your stories and feelings is a wonderful tribute to him. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

  12. Pingback: A Fitting Tribute « Square Peg in a Round Hole

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