“Suddenly” Moments … and their long term effects!

February 5, 2011 — 6 Comments

This is my older brother Dan. He was a great guy! He passed away when he was 22 yrs. old. His passing changed my life dramatically!

Some defining moments are gradual, bringing change little by little.  Like when we noticed subtle changes in our emotions and bodies as we entered puberty.  We didn’t become adults overnight. It took time. Yet, that season of change marked us, and whether we like to admit it or not, some of the ways we define ourselves today were shaped during those critical years.

Other defining moments crash suddenly into our ordinary lives and substantially alter the way we see and live life.  On a September afternoon in 1971, one of those moments occurred and changed my world forever!

On that autumn afternoon, my 22 year old brother Dan was driving home from college when he failed to heed the warning lights at a railroad crossing in rural Nebraska.  As a result, he slammed into the second car of the train as it crossed the road in front of him. He was hospitalized and the first prognosis was very hopeful.  However, he suddenly passed away two days later from an undetected brain hemorrhage.  His death turned my world upside down, devastated our family and my heart! Yet out of this trauma certain old patterns of life were replaced by sincere, heartfelt actions. His death brought decisions and definition regarding how I treated those I loved.

Here are a few of the outcomes:

I try hard not to take the people I love for granted. Today they are here with me, so I try to let them know I’m glad they are.

I savor the moments when we are together! When my family and friends gather, I sometimes drop out of the conversation so I can relish the moment, listen to their laughter and watch their interactions. Life really is a vapor.

I don’t assume they know I love them… I tell them I do. Our family didn’t do this well…. until after Dan was gone. This lesson was learned the hard way.

I try to always say “Good bye”, even if they’re simply going to the store. After a weekend at home Dan headed back to college and I waved at him as he drove down our street — I assumed he would come home the next weekend.  He didn’t.  I hadn’t said good bye. Good byes are very important to me!

Today I can look back and know my brother’s sudden death brought introspection and change to certain aspects of my life.  I am truly grateful for the good that rose out of the depth of our loss!

Are there defining moments — whether gradual or sudden —  in your lives that have resulted in changes for the better?  Please share them here!  I’d love to hear them!

6 responses to “Suddenly” Moments … and their long term effects!

  1. Your “defining moments” reminded me of one regret I had when I lost my brother. I had failed to send him a birthday card that year. His birthday was in October and he died the first of November. I’m glad there is no condemnation with Jesus. If God forgives we can forgive ourselves. I enjoyed your post.

    • You are so right about there being no condemnation with Jesus! Thanks for mentioning that Karen! I’m so glad you commented!!

    • This happened a copule years ago but it is a story that I will never forget. At the time my grandparents lived in Durango, Colorado. As cooking became more difficult for them to manage they began eating out more and more. They went to one restaurant every Saturday morning and all the wait staff knew them by name and what they would order. They treated them so well. When my grandma broke her hip she had to spend several weeks in a rehab center until she could return home. One morning my grandpa when to their Saturday morning restaurant to pick up their usual pancake breakfast. They had it waiting for him in a basket, meal was on the house, and sent a waitress with him to the rehab facility where she set the table with a table cloth, silver wear, and served them their meal. They still talk about it to this day and it was something that really made the drab rehab time very special. They were loyal customers and they were treated with so much kindness!

  2. I love you Cheri White… SOOOO very much!
    Thank you for being a part of my life!

  3. Thanks for sharing about this hard time and reminding us not to take one another for granted.

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