We have reached that dreaded day again…the day all our lives changed forever. Like so many people that have lost a sibling and parents who have lost a child, how we long to be able to turn back the clock and have a moment to say good bye. We weren’t given that moment. In a blink of an eye you were gone. Eleven years ago (4015 days ago) you were sadly and tragically taken from us. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of you and miss you. Always something or someone that triggers a memory. Where are you little brother? Love and miss you forever and a day.
Eleven years ago Brian was working as a Field Guide and Ranger Assessor in Hoedspruit. He was passionate about the bush and loved his job. To him it wasn’t a job, it was a calling. He and his beloved Anne had decided that this was the path they wanted to take and he went for it with all the drive and passion and enthusiasm that only people that knew him will understand. When Brian decided to do something he went for it “balls to the wall”, “go big or go home”. J He spoke loud, he laughed loud and he loved BIG. A larger than life character that touched the hearts of his students, his family and all who came into contact with him and were privileged to know him. He was headstrong and when Brian decided he was going to do something, there was no stopping him. He was killed in a car accident on the 2 October 2004 L, in Hoedspruit, on his way back to his camp.
I went to my mom’s house today and was looking at the books in her book case…most of them Brian’s. There are books on botany, zoology, game farm management, trees, reptiles, ecology, birds, insects, rare plant species, game capture, animal husbandry, economics. You name it, the book is there. And why? Because Brian never did anything half. It was always the whole way or no way J. I hope to someday to write this extraordinary man’s biography, but not ready yet, even after 11 years L He had packed so much into his short 29 years. He saw things we only dreamed about, did things that only the most adventurous of us would attempt. Lived in so many beautiful countries, experiencing their cultures and lifestyles. Met extraordinary people and he loved them all. Brian’s zest for life and passion was so contagious and he wanted to share all this and he did.
As my beautiful friend Caren would ask…”what lessons have you learned? What have you got out of this terrible loss and heartache?” Mmmmmm…hard one to answer when you are feeling the sadness and heaviness I am feeling today. But yes…
- Mom, Tracey and I decided that one day we are going to write a book entitled “What NOT TO SAY to people who are grieving the loss of a loved one”. J People mean well and try to say the right things, but no words on this earth are “the right words” when one has lost such a huge part of a close family. And he was a huge part. One of the wheels of our family. And the saying that says ‘only when it has happened to you, will you understand’ is so so so true. We don’t want to hear that ‘he is in a better place’. There was nothing wrong with the place he was in, in the first place! We don’t want to hear that ‘it was his time’. (Even though I do believe that we all have our time on earth). The lesson: Don’t say anything. Just be there and do practical things for the family. Let them know by your deeds that you care and feel their loss. Always put yourself in the other person’s situation before you say or do anything (this goes for practical everyday living as well) P.S. There really is no time limit on grieveing.
- LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL. Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today. If you want to learn to fly, start saving money TODAY. Start making plans TODAY. Do today whatever you can to get to the goal you have in mind. I once asked Brian how he could afford to flit overseas whenever he wanted to. (He wasn’t earning a whack of a salary, yet always had plans, which he followed through and did) His answer was “Just do it. Book the flight, make the plans and go for it”. In practical terms, he booked the flight and paid every month until the flight was paid for.
- Do not worry about what other people think or what they think of you. If this were the case, Brian would not have achieved half of what he did in such a short period of time.
- Be kind to people. Brian was the kindest person I know. He ALWAYS made people feel special about themselves and made sure that when he was engaging with them, they knew it. BE THERE! If there is something you can do for someone else TODAY then do it. Don’t put it off.
- Always have a goal in mind and something to look forward to. This is what keeps our serotonin levels up. Every person needs to have something to look forward to, otherwise what’s the point?
- Be strong and stand by your convictions. Don’t allow other influences (Drugs, alcohol, addictions, nastiness, bitterness etc) to own you. That is not how we were created.
- Take calculated chances and risks. How boring life would be if we didn’t do this.
- Always wear your safety belt
- Love BIG and love HARD
- G-d is in control
So precious brother of ours, thank you for the lessons learned. Thank you that we have no regrets. Thank you that you brought such a vibrancy and fullness to all our lives. Thank you that we have such wonderful good happy memories. Till we meet again, we will miss you always.