One of the most personal moments of my blogging tenure occurred way back in 2010.
On that day, I blogged about a personal moment from 1970 that tore my family to shreds.
Long story short – on February 20, 1970, my grandfather made a horrifying choice. He had a few shots of Cutty Sark in his system, and he chose to drive on a very snowy day. He lost control of his car and crashed into a tree. My three younger brothers and sisters were in the car with him. Two of them received considerable injuries. The third – my baby brother Allen – was critically injured. He lived another six months in a vegetative state before God called him home.
I dealt with that personal tragedy for decades – and part of that “dealing” was trying to cope with the concept of death and all that comes with it. There were questions that no one could answer for me. Not my parents, not my family members, not the clergy, not anyone.
In 2010 – forty years after that car crash – I resolved in my new blog to take care of one thing. My brother had been buried without a tombstone or a marker; I raised the necessary funds to install a permanent and dignified marker in St. Agnes Cemetery for his resting place.
For me, that marker was a sign of personal healing.
It also caused a major schism between me and my family. Many of my relatives chastised me for calling my grandfather a monster for what he did. And although I have come to terms with my feelings regarding that moment and its aftermath … I still have many unresolved issues from that time period.
Allen’s death is one of the main reasons why I don’t drink alcoholic beverages. With the minute exception of a sip of ecumenical wine at church services, I am essentially a teetotaler.
I’m not going to tell anyone else that they can’t drink … but I can only keep that promise for myself.
It’s also the reason why, on February 20, I remember those in my life who were only in this world for a short, short time. And I try to remember moments of interactions they and I have had – moments that still make me smile today.
We only get one shot in this life. And if we don’t make every single second of it count … then we’ve wasted this precious blessing.
Do me a favor today. Remember someone who has been called to Glory. Remember a parent, a friend, a loved one. Find that one moment, that one interaction, that one second where you felt blessed that said person was in your life. And hold onto that moment like it’s your last breath of air.
The marker on Allen’s grave indicates where he is.
The other marker is in my heart, where it will remain until the day I too am called to Glory.
Keep a marker in your hearts as well.
Because on the worst days of your life …
That marker will keep you safe.