Sandy – Fifty years ago today

The first message I had this morning was from our Kevin on Facebook.

Happy 52nd birthday to my brother today. Sandy, we all still miss you.

Fifty two years ago he came …. quickly .. Jeanie was only in labor 45 minutes at the hospital before he emerged — as all through his life he didn’t waste time.

I was wondering tonight: if he had lived through that surgery – would he have married? by now have perhaps a son or daughter in university? be living fully in his calling?

And as I thought of him I wished each of you, who matter so much to me, could have known him, had a conversation with him, serious and humorous.

Then I realized: if he had not left us, I might never have met so many of you – because the trajectory of my/our own lives might have been so different, affected it was by his death.

Life – has its crazy turns and quirks. There is no knowing what might have been – only what has been.

Interesting that this morning Wendell Berry the Kentucky farmer-poet was interviewed on the Diane Rehm program on NPR.. I listened to his quiet, calm voice, as reedy as his Kentucky farmscape, reading this excerpt from his new novel A Place in Time, about a small town in Kentucky during another wartime, decades ago.

Wendell Berry: “Yes. This comes — this comes after the news has come in I think 1944 that Tom Coulters, who Burley helped to raise, has been killed in action. “He was a bulldozer operator in that advance up through Italy that was so difficult. What gets you is the knowledge and it sometimes can fall on you in a clap that the dead are gone absolutely from this world. As has been said around here over and over again, you’re not going to see them here anymore ever. Whatever was done or said before is done or said for good. Any questions you think of that you ought to have asked while you had a chance are never going to be answered. The dead know and you don’t.”

“And yet their absence puts them with you in a way they never were before. You even maybe know them better than you did before. They stay with you and in a way you go with them. They don’t live on in your heart but your heart knows them. As your heart gets bigger on the inside the world gets bigger on the outside. If the dead had been alive only in this world you would forget them, it looks like, as soon as they die. But you remember them because they always were living in the other bigger world while they lived in this little one. And this one and the other one are the same.”

Listening I breathed “Yes.” And was painfully grateful that we knew Sandy in this world, and that he lived, now and then also, in ‘the other bigger world.”

Yes Sandy, we do miss you – and walk with you still in God’s larger world.

Love, Dad

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