A very exhausting and emotional day.
It’s been 10+ years since I lost my only brother – but days like today where the pain is so fresh and strong it feels like it was yesterday. I had a feeling today was going to be an emotional day for me. My husband and I were attending a lunch and tour down at the Hope Center for Kids in North Omaha. This is an organization I had learned about a year ago and it’s been on my mind to get involved ever since. I’ve felt very passionate about what they are doing down there and what I could potentially do and I was very aware that because of that passion for these kids that I would be emotional when I saw the place and heard their stories. I was right – I absolutely had eye widening moments, an ache in my heart and a lump in my throat. But again, I somewhat expected to feel that way. I almost wanted to feel that way. I’ve never been “called” to do anything – but I do feel like this is something I am being “called” to do. To get involved in some way and hope that I can help. The shocking part of the day came about half way through the lunch when I looked down the table and saw a girl sitting there. It hit me like a ton of bricks – I felt like I almost couldn’t even breathe. It was my brother’s old girlfriend from High School. I can’t explain why the pain was so much to see her, I see my brother’s old friends all the time. I almost felt like because I hadn’t seen her since he was with her, and because I had a very clear picture of her and him from Homecoming in my head – that it hurt more, like it meant he should be there too. I wondered if she knew that he had died or if she recognized me. I wondered how I would ever get through the conversation with her about my brother if she didn’t know – but I knew that I had to verify that it was her. After the lunch my mind was spinning and I physically felt sick with all the emotions going on – but I went up to her and asked where she went to HS, she replied and I said “I think you went to prom with my brother” and she said “nope – the only guy I have ever gone to prom with – I married!” – I just said – “oh that’s odd – I recognize you from somewhere” – she asked my brother’s name I said “Chris Jackson” – and as she froze and stammered out “you mean from Elkhorn?” – I could see she knew – she knew who he was, she remembered him, and that she knew what had happened. She said “I used to date Chris – he introduced me to my husband – I thank God for Chris Jackson every day”. By this point I could see tears in her eyes and I couldn’t hardly breathe. So I quickly said it was good to see her, and I ran off to the restroom to compose myself. I was so filled with emotion from the Hope Center, to what I felt I was being called to do, and then to have my brother interjected in it all. When you lose someone that you love so very much, who you think will be a part of your life forever and be at every holiday gathering, and every birthday for your child, and on the other end of a phone call whenever you need them – and then they go away it’s heart wrenching. But what is also so hard is not knowing if other people remember him the way you do – if they think about him or care, or remember all of his good qualities, or the funny things he did and said. Because that is all you want and can hope for is that he is remembered and is still a part of the lives of others even though he isn’t physically there. I think that is why seeing this girl and hearing her say “I thank God for Chris Jackson everyday” – knowing he introduced her to her husband and that he was part of the reason she was living a full and happy life was so impactful.
Today was a wonderful day, despite all the tears and the hurt I felt – it was good. It was great to remember my brother, to feel for a moment like he was so close, and to know that someone else was remembering him too.