I expect I'll start this post over and over again and never be fully satisfied with it because that's what happens when I try to write about something so serious. I totally copped out a few years ago when a close childhood friend passed away unexpectedly. I had a million words I wanted to say when I was nowhere near my computer, but when I sat down to put it all on my blog every phrase had left my mind, and nothing I could think of could even begin to express how I felt or what I wanted to say about my friend. Now I'm sad that I didn't write more because she deserved it, and I still think of her all the time.
...Most of you already know that my sister's husband passed away unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. We were and are all still shocked and devastated. Not only was he my sister's true love and father to their four amazing young children; he was a spirited, good man who knew the true value of friendship and passed that on to everyone. Brian and I always thought of him as a good friend and enjoyed all the times we would sit down with a beer and talk the nights away. Whenever we visited he always went out of his way to make us feel comfortable; I stopped staying up late after having kids, but when I stayed at Jessi & Bill's, I would stay up until 3 AM just talking to Billy. There was never any doubt in my mind as to how much he loved Jessi and the kids, and he had a sense of humor that Brian and I could totally appreciate. He wasn't afraid to tell things like they were or joke about things that the rest of us might take too seriously some times.
I am happy that he was able to come to Gabe's birthday party in January and see our new house. It was a good day, and he and Jessi stayed with the kids after some of the other guests left, so we got a chance to relax and catch up a bit. We hadn't done that in a while, what with the craziness of life with young families, and it left some good, fresh memories in my mind. -And if we ever get that huge flat screen TV and put it on our side wall that Billy thought was just screaming for a flat screen, we'll smile and think of him as put it in.
At the same time, that somehow makes it even harder to stomach his loss. When we were at Jessi's a couple of weeks ago I just couldn't get it through my head that Billy wasn't actually there. My sister Becky said she just kept expecting him to walk in the door, and Brian and I felt the same way. This wasn't supposed to happen to him, and it certainly wasn't supposed to happen to Jessi or the kids - or to any of his family or friends. Especially not now.
I know Jessi is a strong woman, and even in weak moments she'll have the kids to pull her through, and if she ever wants to reach out for a hug or a talk she's got about a million close friends and family who only wish we could do more to help. For now, though, that doesn't make it easier.
Jessi, just know how much we all love you. No one can take away your memories or your love for Billy. It's through you that Liam, Caelyn, Alana, and Rian will remember their daddy. I wish you were not given this lifetime struggle, but I will always be here if you need a shoulder to cry on, or if you need ANYTHING at all.
Right before I got the news I took my picture for the day (thank goodness), shown below, and I'll copy now what I wrote as its caption when I uploaded it after returning home one week ago.
"I took this photo when I saw the morning light streaming in on February 22. Soon after, I received word that my brother in law had just suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in his home. My sister was with him. It was their oldest son's sixth birthday. One week later, it's still hard to believe he is no longer here. It's even harder to imagine my nieces and nephew growing up without his physical presence. One thing I remember, though, is my sister's words when I went down to spend some time with her. She said she liked to think that Billy met our great grandmother. I thought about that later and smiled when I pictured how well they would get along. I could just hear both their voices and the conversations they would share. This photo reminds me of the light that shines even through the darkest of times, and it makes me think of a wonderful heaven, where our loved ones might find warmth in the company of one another and share an eternity of love and laughter."
Billy, you are and will continue to be missed. Thank you for all the smiles and laughter you gave me, and most of all, thank you for loving my Jessi so much and giving her four wonderful, beautiful, amazing children. Your legacy will live on.
P.S. Go Red Sox.
For those looking to help, an education trust fund has been set up for the kids in Billy's name. For information, see www.unclebilly.org.