it is said that the only cure for boredom is curiosity … and there is no cure for curiosity.
even cancer couldn’t steal it fully from my little brother Michael. and we know cancer to be the worst sort of thief. stealing days, months and years and pouring cold water on the soul’s very flames.
but somehow that seed of passion remained, even when life felt like a freeze-frame existence for him and for us all . there are five of us …4 brothers and me, the sister. and my brother’s cancer diagnosis proved to be the strangest sort of catalyst toward intentionality for our family. because we are a bunch far more inclined to haphazard and spontaneous living. but when life feels threatened and up-ended, even the most free spirited can show up on time (well almost) with a sense of urgency.
and so we pulled together and dearly counted the days. and leaned in to get every last drop of living they could yield. because we all feared the worst. and for 6 very long years we lived as though death was eminent and knocking hard at the door we refused to let open.
it’s a very strange reality to live with death looming. such sacred and unstable ground. but i tried to keep steady and present- adamant to not let a moment go un-noticed. or un-lived.
because i know with certainty that we don’t get those moments back and regrets are a gnawing thing to live with. so, no matter the cost, i let my heart get stretched and pulled hard at even when weariness set in. because i wanted to tell this story. his story. that’s what big sisters do.
it’s the story of a curious little boy who grew up in a world of wonder and imagination. where creativity and adventure were endless. and he dreamed big dreams. dreams that took him right off the pages of ordinary and out of this boxed in world.
he was a gatherer of living things, gentle and kind to anything with four legs. he was also different in the most beautiful way. not book smart so to speak- but a learner. the teachers all thought him dumb because he read slowly but they missed that he just saw things differently.
his struggles were likely the very thing that made him braver , and resilient and not fit into those small cramped boxes we make for children. and through it all, he never gave up being …himself. and so we all grew up in this sort of childhood that was marked by flaws, freedom and barefeet…but never boredom. and Michael grew into a self -made man.
he had a laundry list of people who’d missed him and overlooked him. he barely made it out of high-school and never looked back. and somehow rose above the disappointed and disapproving crowd of teachers who saw him as reckless.
and that dreamer in him fueled every part. his mind was full to the brim with ideas and designs rattling and bouncing around. he knew how stuff worked too…because he noticed everything. all the guts and gears and mechanics. he was never one to waste his time on learning the unimportant subjects. instead he taught himself how to build things. and build he did.
and here i am , a witness to his life. i’ve had the privilege of watching it unfold and of knowing his soul. and along with my three other brothers we’ve been caught up in making the days count…because we just didn’t know how many were left. and it’s a precious burden to begin collecting all the things that need saying and remembering the passage of time with careful recount.
because in the end , that’s all there is. reminding someone you love and have known their whole life…that they had weight in this world. and that this cold, flawed world needed them here.
and as it turns out, we’ve been given a rare gift. the gift of time…both in the being taken away and being given. we were forced to live intentionally and face the preciousness of each other…and now we get to have more time. because God must have seen fit to give us a small miracle. so there is more living yet to do and more curiosities to discover and i get to let my thoughts drift off the pages of ordinary with my dreamer of a brother who gets to be around a while longer on this earth.
for michael….i love you xxoo, jamie