In yesterday’s blog I shared the words I read at Len’s funeral….

Today I would like to share what Suzi read at Len’s funeral…

I share it with you so you can catch more of a glimpse of the wonder of my brother, but I also share it because this blog is my archive of the journey to my heart and I never want to forget the words that were shared…

And so, I invite you to read the following and share in a bit of our grief while celebrating the life of my dear brother…

dear Len,

I always thought I would be alive to speak at your funeral since I am so much younger than you.  The problem is that I was expecting to be about 80 so you’re 46 years early.

navy_09bI can’t say that we grew up together because we only spent four years living in the same house.  Of those years together, four of them I don’t remember.  So my memories of you are of visits back home from the Naval Academy or the various exotic places you lived.  It’s hard for me to explain the magic you were in my young life.  You swept in from all of your adventures and brought gifts and happiness and laughter to our house.  I remember a teddy bear the same size as my six-year-old body and rides on your motorcycle and being carried screaming upside down around the house and taking you for show and tell to my elementary school classes.  I remember many times where you asked me if there were any available girls in my third grade class that you could take on a date.  And then, of course, I remember the real date you took 8-year-old me on at your Naval Academy graduation ball.  You bought me a corsage and danced with me and made me feel like the luckiest girl of them all.  I felt special because of you and the courageous choices you made and the way you included all of us in those adventures.  I would not be who I am without that bolstering influence in my young life.

It is impossible for someone who wears their heart on their sleeve as you did to escape life unscathed.  I remember times of struggle where you were so ready to give yourself completely to someone, but the girls you chose never seemed able to bear the weight and strength of your love.  You know as well as anyone the pain of a broken heart.  But then, after so much heartache, along came Marcia.  And she was strong enough to be your true love.  I remember how much fun the two of you had from the first time you brought her home.  She was unlike anyone we knew.  She was the keeper of your heart.  I am so grateful for her and the commitment you had to each other.  You excelled at loving her.  And you have made such a lovely family.  Strong, beautiful, hilarious children.  They are your legacy and we cherish them.

As adults, we have had less time to be together.  Naturally your attention shifted to our own family and your own children.  I still have a soft spot for you, even as a grown up.  I am especially fond of how you are over the top on every last thing you do.  When we asked you to do the toast at our wedding, you purchased a 1200 page book of classic toasts in search of the perfect one.  When we went fishing on Lake Milacs you purchased every fishing accessory that they were selling (including magic fish love potion) and threw your heart and your money into catching a fish.  You also jumped whole-heartedly into your role as Uncle Len.  You won the life-long affection of our oldest, Peter, when you let him drive your boat on nighttime cruises as you blared Pavarotti to all the irritated fisherman on Nichols Lake.  You also won the life-long affection of our second son, Isaiah, by calling him Miguel.  In those moments, he believed in his heart that he was the star of the Detroit Tigers.  I am forever grateful for the attention you paid to your young nephews.

I don’t know if I have the words to tell you how  much you will be missed.  We will all grieve the loss of you in pieces in the coming weeks, months, and years.  As we read our Christmas poems or attempt a family vacation, we will never be the same without you.  We are not as interesting or exciting and we certainly will not eat as well.  I promise you that we will remember you well, laugh often, and continue to care deeply and actively for your wife and children.  They will never be left alone.

After your exhaustive search for a toast for our wedding, you decided that the best one out there is the Irish Blessing.  So, today I bless you with the same words:

May the road rise up to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face

and the rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

I will love you forever.