Saying Goodbye to My Brother

terry and tim with dogs

I have delivered the eulogy at many memorial services. I have said a few final words on behalf of friends and family including both parents. It’s never easy. Some harder than others. I buried my twin brother last week and I gave his eulogy, officiated at the memorial service and graveside, and was a pallbearer. As many of you know, he had been in poor health the past several years. Barring an accident or something unforeseen, I would outlive him. I knew it. I prepared for it. And then I did it.

Even with plenty of warning I struggled with this duty. What can you say about your brother’s life and death? He was my twin. We were inseparable through our childhood. We shared a bedroom, a birthday, clothes, friends, and our first car. He and I were so similar but remarkably different. On the surface we looked alike. Below the surface we often looked like strangers. In so many ways we were opposite. But at the end of the day, he was my brother. And I miss him.

In my eulogy I worked through a simple paradigm I offer grieving people I counsel. I ask people to complete three statements. The grieving process takes shape as the sentences fill out. The prompts are:

• I regret…
• I resent…
• I am thankful…

In my own case the answers came out like this:

I do regret that I saw him so little during these past 20 years. I wish I could have gone fishing and hunting with him more. He was in Montana and I was overseas or across the continent. The distances and finances didn’t allow for more contact. Still…I regret that we didn’t have more of those times together. Those were good times on a creek bank or walking through the woods on a snowy morning. I do miss them.

Inescapably, I resent the alcohol that stole his life too soon. I sincerely hate it. I understand that people can drink alcohol and not be addicted. I know folks have the freedom to take a drink sometimes and it isn’t a sin. Nobody forced him to drink. Really, I get it. But, I will always despise what it did to him. The alcohol stole so much of what could have been. Eternity will be enough time to get it back. I’m planning on it.

I am thankful for the relationship I had with him. I was privileged to have a twin brother. I have zero memories from childhood that didn’t include him. The dynamic between us and around us had a big part in making me who I am today. Growing up with Terry taught me how to share, how to lead and how to follow. I learned about loyalty and friendship and sacrifice. I knew it was never just about me. It was always about us. Together, we had to figure out how two people could be first. I would be a poorer man today without my brother. He enriched my spirit by his being.

When the service was over and I was the only one left at his graveside, I imagined the way it was with us. Two ragged farm boys riding bareback into the hills. Me on Cocoa and him on Shady. Bare feet clinched to their sides, riding as hard and as fast as a willow switch could drive them. I can see him ride ahead and over the hill and gone. What never would have happened in life, was a reality in death.

I carry him in my heart and I see his face every time I look in the mirror.

Good bye, Terry. I love you, my brother.

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One thought on “Saying Goodbye to My Brother

  1. David

    Sorry. I can hardly imagine what it would be like to lose a twin. Your reflection on what alcohol can steal does provoke many thoughts. And as you alluded, it isn’t limited to just alcohol, it could be books, or movies, or a celebrity, or jealousy, or pride, or a sports team… I guess that’s part of why we need each other – to keep perspective when we are blinded ourselves.

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