Rest in Peace, My Friend

On Thursday, October 20, 2011, my family lost someone very dear in a tragic hunting accident.  The circumstances surrounding his death seem unimportant in the grand scope of things.  All that really seems to matter to us, his family, is that he's gone forever.  It hurts to look into a future without him.  It hurts to think of all the things he's going to miss, all the things his family - his wife and two beautiful, wonderful children - are going to do without him by their sides.  

What we have right now, what we cling to in our heartache, are the memories.  I think it's important to share those memories in order to keep him alive in our hearts and minds.  During the memorial service I wanted to stand up at the podium and tell everyone how Sean touched my life, as well as the lives of my husband and children.  I wasn't strong enough that day to say the things I wanted to say. 

So, while I sit here with tears streaming down my face and my heart heavy in my chest, I'm going to share what I couldn't on that very difficult day when we said our final farewells.

Sean married into my family because he fell in love with my spunky, strong-willed, and fun-loving cousin Jessica.  I stood up with them and watched them transition from boyfriend and girlfriend to husband and wife.  I have some great memories from that day, but the one that stands out the most has to be those minutes following the ceremony.  We had just finished taking pictures inside the church.  Most of the family and wedding party had drifted away, disappearing one by one until it was just me and Jessica.  We walked out of the church expecting to find everyone hanging out in front of the church.  Strangely, the wedding party had disappeared.  Jessica, temper flaring just a little, knew what had happened and where we'd find her wandering groom.  I'll never forget walking across the churchyard, holding her wedding gown in my hands to keep the train from getting grass-stained, only to find Sean and the rest of our bridal party sitting on someone's front porch drinking a beer.  Sean, in the way only he could, diffused Jessica's temper with a grin and a light-hearted comment.  He may have even handed her a beer to help take the edge of.

That's just one of many memories I have of Sean and Jessica together.  You see, Jessica and I share a very rare and special relationship.  She's always been a part of my life.  Someone who "gets" me when it seems no one else does.  I like to think it's the same for her, that I "get" her when it seems no one else does.  This kinship that seems to transcend the bond of blood and family lineage has resulted in so many shared experiences.  We grew up together, we went to school together, we worked together (and still do), we've partied together, and our families have vacationed together.

A lot of people, my husband included, have stories to tell about Sean that involve hunting or fishing trips.  While these two things gave him immense pleasure, my stories don't really touch on either subject.  My stories involve vacations to Las Vegas, Maine, and Munising.  I can tell you about boat trips across Michigan's midland waterway and camping trips over long holiday weekends.  I can tell you about how he went to watch fireworks in Caseville this last Fourth of July even though he really didn't want to - he did that for his kids because he was the kind of dad that put their happiness before his own.  I can tell you about searching for waterfalls after a visit to the Children's Museum in Marquette and how fast we left those wild woods because Jessica and I got freaked out by the thought of stumbling across a bear.

There are just so many memories.  So many things I never want to forget.