From young, I was his protector, his big sister. His ears stuck out when he was little and kids called him Dumbo. Made me mad, so I stepped in and beat them up. Of course. No bullying my brother on my watch. Things got more complex later in life and I could no longer protect him from his destructive life choices. But in an act of grace, he finally took care of himself, got into recovery and worked hard to turn his life around and give back in an effort to re-balance things again.
I cheered him on, admired his constant vigilance and his willingness to live each day as best as he could. None of us know the struggles another faces even if he's a brother. That alone calls us to kindness and compassion. Last time I talked to him he said his life was good and he felt grateful. What I'm grateful for is that he died in recovery and not in the ugly tangle of addiction and the devastation that follows in its wake. There was hurt enough and I believe his regret for that.
Through it all I held the memory of him as a small boy- beautiful, sweet, pure and so much fun. His essence. It got lost for a while. In the process he lost most of what deeply mattered to him. He leaves three amazing daughters, a granddaughter and an ex-wife who is my dear friend. He fought the demons only he saw and re-built his life in an attempt to be of service to those in need. Bless him. I'll miss him. I celebrate him. I hope he is finally at peace.