Like many things in life, it started with a phone call. The news, delivered by my younger brother, Ryan, that our dad had passed peacefully in his sleep that night, was a shock but we knew he was home with Jesus. That at least brought us comfort.
As we met later that day to begin the process of service arrangements, we stared at each other, a little lost, a little confused. Where did we begin? Taking turns holding Momís hand, we made calls, answered calls and returned calls. Our other siblings were out of town and would soon be on their way; still it was falling mainly on Ryanís and my shoulders.
Ryan is nine years younger than I am; a surprise package to my parents in their later years, someone I resented as my role of baby of the family was usurped. I got passed it, however and eventually we moved into an easy camaraderie, something that would serve us well as we went through this time of grieving.
As the week played out, I must have talked to Ryan no less than ten times a day, touching bases over every detail. We sat together way too late one night, trying to put together a fitting piece for the obituary, another night pulling photographs from a myriad of albums tucked in Momís hope chest. We may not have consciously acknowledged it then, but we were each other's leaning post.
Dadís memorial was a fitting celebration for a life well lived. We got through it. The shock wore off, the pain would diminish, tears would fall less and less and we would, as we all do, slip back into our every day routines. However, for me, something felt not quite right.
I couldnít put my finger on it at first. It took a couple of days before I realized what it was. After a week of constant phone calls between us, my world was suddenly silent. I had to process it but I came to realize I was missing my brother. I liked talking to Ryan. I liked us being connected. We each had our own very busy and separate lives so getting together had been relegated to holidays and birthdays. In the past week, we had shared a lot of memories, funny stories, tears, and a few beers. Something new had started growing between us in that time; I didnít want to lose that.
I called Ryan. Shooting from the hip, I shared what I was feeling. How I liked what had developed between us in the last week and how I wanted to hang onto it. What had started out as a week of sorrow had ended up bringing me great enjoyment. Why couldnít this continue?
Ryan is not overtly sensitive. Sometimes he is actually a little obtuse. After he got over the initial surprise of being his sisterís idea of desirable company, he seemed pleased with my request to cultivate this new little sprout in our relationship. We hung up promising to stay in touch.
A few days later in my morning devotional, I read from the book of Isaiah, chapter eleven.ď Out of the stump of Davidís family, will grow a shootóyes, a new branch bearing fruit from the old root.Ē * I sat up straight. Goosebumps! Wasnít this exactly what I had been thinking?
Out of the death of our dad, a small green shoot was unfurling; something new was springing to life. We needed to nurture it, to keep it growing. Whipping out my cell phone, I called Ryan to set a date for our next get together.
Like many things in life, it starts with a phone call.
*Scripture reference: Isaiah 11.1 NLT
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