The Beating Heart
March 26, 2017
You are so great, and you don’t hear it often enough. I’m so glad to have you in my life and cannot imagine my life without you in it. There are all the big reasons, of course—your steadfast determination in the throes of Terry’s illness, your leadership in my Scouting life as a youth, your willingness to share mountain biking with me—and there are lots of little reasons, too. We give you lots of crap for it, but your laugh always gets me; your unabashed cheering for the Packers and the Hawkeyes; your patience in getting me to chew with my mouth closed. It’s no wonder our family dogs have always seen you to be at the head of the pack. You’ve taught me so much about how to make a family work, about when to push forward and when to hang back, and about how to turn the page after getting through another tough day. I’m more grateful than I know how to describe with words.
It’s been about twenty-one years at the time of writing. I was young enough that I don’t clearly remember meeting you for the first time. Maybe something involving fishing, or maybe something involving goldfish. Either actual fish or the delicious crackers. Or something else entirely. I only vaguely remember barging into Grandma Esther’s kitchen and asking her why she thought you and Terry shouldn’t be together. I think my first clear memory of your side of the family involves working on a Lego set with Ryan during Christmas, maybe in 1999 or so? I know the relationships have been tough for all of us at times, but your unrelenting support of all your family members as best you can, especially when it’s tough, is as inspiring as it is instructional.
Seven of those twenty-one years spent in the darkest shadows of Terry’s MS, and the last ten slowly growing brighter. But the shadows never really go away for good. But you keep shining and we all keep laughing and we keep living anyway. For the first time in those twenty-one years, the nest is actually (finally!) empty. After the test run with Zebby being away in Florence last fall, the return of us kids is now indefinite. (Although, with Teddy there, the nest can’t ever really be that empty.) I want to come back to visit soon, and I’m glad I got to spend more time with you last year when I was back for a little while. I miss all of you a lot, even if I don’t call or write as often as any of us would like.
You’re the beating heart of our family. And I’m so glad we all found each other.
Your loving son,