Submitted by: Tracey (sister)
My Tribute: This is a letter I read to my brother at his funeral (he died a few weeks ago from liver cirrhosis):
To my big bro... I know you are here beside me and here in my heart. Despite how different we were, in many ways, we were exactly alike. I felt like sometimes we were so in tune, that I understood you more than I even understood myself at times. And others, I felt like I didn't know you at all. Regardless, my love for you never waivered and I cherished the kinship we had as brother and sister.
I sensed how deeply you felt things from a young age. Your heart was so soft that you used to feel sorry for the garbage we took to the burning barrel. I must have always felt you needed some extra protection. In Elementary school, when word got out on the playground that the school bully was picking on you, without a thought, I ran up behind him and gave him a swift kick between the legs, just as the school bell rang and ran for dear life to the door where I knew Mr. Galambos was waiting to save me from certain death!
I look back now and know he picked on you because he knew how gentle you were and that he could get away with it. I have been struggling with so many emotions since we said goodbye. I am trying to find peace in the fact that you don't have to suffer anymore, but I still wish you were here and that I could have saved you somehow. If only I had just said the exact right thing at the right time or made you feel just a little more loved, could it have changed this outcome?
Through your struggles, I felt like no matter what I did to try and help you in your life, we always ended up in the same place.
What I know for sure, is that your character was strong and that this disease was a fight that is very hard to win. No one could really know the turmoil going on inside of you on a constant basis or what it felt like to be you.
You were a warrior. When I think of the things you went through in your lifetime and the strength that you had to have to endure it all, I am in awe.
I know that I am so heartbroken thinking about how lonely you were at times and that you didn't feel loved. I hope that now, you can see how many people did love you and wanted nothing but happiness and wellness for you.
I know how much you cherished your family and friendships and how much their support meant to you. I know how much love you had in your heart for not only us but random strangers you felt sorry for on the street. I know you wanted to find someone to love and have children of your own someday. I know you were trying. I know you wanted to be well. I know you had a thirst for life and had so many hopes and dreams, but just as many demons. I know that if I ever needed help of any kind and you were able to give it, you would. I know that you felt your pain and sorrow so deeply that it was hard to let it go and heal from it. I know that I will never get over losing you. I know that I am so grateful for the time that you and Dad and I got to spend together these last few years as a family. I will look back on these times as some of the best of my life. I know that I will miss you making fun of my hippy lifestyle and I teasing you about your big belly. I know that growing up with you was a privilege. When I think of our childhood, I think of "Bladley and Blian" Mitchell, Regan Quayle, dirt bikes, summers at Waskesui Lake, riding our little Kitty Kat ski-doo, 3wheelers, 4-wheelers and skateboards. Making home videos of air bands with our cousins and friends in full hair band make up, banging our heads to Quiet Riot, cruising around in your Impala and singing at the top of our lungs to Nirvana.
I know that you will forever be in my heart and that not a day, not an hour, not a minute will go by that I won't feel like I am missing a part of myself that I counted on for so long and that was always there, but I sometimes took for granted.
I know you loved me. I know you loved Dad. I know you fought hard and made mistakes as we all do as human beings. There were times I had to love you from afar. And times I made all your problems my own. I know we had a bond so deep that we could look at each other and know exactly what the other was thinking. I know how much the farm was a part of your whole being. It ran through your veins and in every cell of your body. It was your north star. Your home.
This is not how any of us wanted to see you coming back here. But I know that you are now wherever you want to be. Just like Mom, you will be with me wherever I am now I will see you in the wheat fields, feel you in the prairie breeze and hear you in the chirps of the chickadees...and anytime an AC/DC or Metallica song comes on.
I love and miss you brother. Your song has ended, but your melody will linger forever.
Your body is away from me
But there is a window open from my heart to yours.
From this window, like the moon I keep sending news secretly.