Care of: Saint Peter
One Pearly Gate Lane
City of Angels, Heaven 00001 October 25, 2017
Today was your funeral and I miss you already.
The presentation by the Catholic priest at your service was both touching and personal. We got to pray together as family, friends and neighbors. The priest’s words were comforting and reassuring.
Yet, I’m writing because I feel sad that I did not stand up and speak at your funeral service as I have done when other family members have passed.
After your wonderfully touching funeral service, I tried to explain to our sister Sue why I hadn’t prepared anything to say on your behalf at the service. I gave her three or four “reasons”. But, they were all excuses not reasons.
Upon reflection, I realize that I did not prepare anything to say because I would not let myself believe that you have actually passed. In my profession, that is called denial.
I did not want to admit to myself that you were no longer with us because you have been, as Charlotte has termed, the “Matriarch” of the family since mom died.
You have always been there, always caring, always helpful, always just a phone call away. Or a Skype away.
I guess it was hard for me to believe that you have left this planet.
Of course, I am confident that you are now in Heaven.
I know that this is true since I was present when you received the Last Rites from the hospital chaplain. His prayers were designed to open the Gates of Heaven to you.
Yet, as I listened and watched the priest praying to the Lord for your soul while you lay in the hospital bed, I already knew that you had secured your path to Heaven.
Long before your body began to fail, you guaranteed your spot in Heaven through your constant and enduring love and devotion to Don, Richie, and Brenda.
I was glad to be present that day when the hospital rabbi came to your room to offer his support. Do you remember that day? I wasn’t sure if you were awake when he entered. At first, I thought he was in the wrong room since we are not Jewish, but he was not in the wrong room at all. He expressed his condolences, knowing your grave condition and simply asked Don how long the two of you have been married.
Don told him: 50 years.
He said to Don, “If I may ask, who pursued whom?”
Without hesitation Don said, “She pursued me.”
The rabbi said, “Ah! It seems she made a fine catch!”
Don lowered his head and smiled and said, “So did I.”
Barbara (who was unwaveringly at your bedside up until the last) brought up the fact that two Desrosiers sisters married two Owen brothers.
I will never forget the rabbi’s comment as he spread his arms as if to hug the whole room: “Fifty years married and sisters married to brothers! Wow, there is a lot of Love in this family!”
He was sooo right.
I was also glad to be present when you Skyped with Richie all the way in Dubai from your hospital bed. You got to kiss his sweet face on the iPad. Now, that brought me to tears.
But it’s clear to me that you shared your love and compassion well beyond your immediate family.
Having met the many people who came to pay their final respects to you on this solemn day, I realize that you have touched the lives of so many of your neighbors, former co-workers, former students and even school bus drivers.
I have to say, it was wonderful that so many of your neighbors came to say good bye to you. Several spoke to me about how the neighborhood on your street is a close-knit group that cares about one another and watches over one another, almost like one big neighborhood family. And every one of them told me how you and Don and Brenda were such a big part of the fabric of that unity.
It warms my heart and makes me proud to be your brother.
I could not resist telling every one of your former co-workers a story which was told to me several years ago by the former special education director of Central Falls Schools. When she discovered I was your brother, she mentioned that you were wonderful to work with and that everyone at Captain Hunt school adored you, not just the students but the entire staff – administrators, teachers, teacher aides, and yes, even the school bus drivers!
She then smiled and said she once had to meet with you about some union business (since you were the shop steward) and you arrived to her office dressed as a pumpkin because it was a Halloween dress up day in your class.
She said that she took one look at your pumpkin outfit and laughed so hard that she had to reschedule the meeting because, as she put it, “I just couldn’t negotiate with a pumpkin!”
Of course, every person who heard my version of the pumpkin costume story nodded knowingly, being familiar with your penchant to “dress up for the Holidays”.
Speaking of that – Sue told me how for many years you and your cohorts would take a train (Sue called it the Midnight Express) to Boston where you would dress up as Santa Claus and hand out presents to children.
You see, this is only a small sample of the sharing of love that came so naturally to you.
After your funeral service I was talking with Sue and I started to mention that one of the strengths within our family is that we share love unconditionally. But, Sue actually finished my words before I could get them out.
You were the model of this unconditional love throughout your life. You gave of yourself to others and expressed unconditional love for Don, Richie, and Brenda as well as the entire Desrosiers and Owen families. And you formed a neighborhood of love on your very own street.
I thought I should mention that you shouldn’t worry too much about Don. He’s a pretty tough guy. He seems like he can handle just about anything life throws his way. Richie, too. And Alexander will be fine.
Finally, I take great individual comfort in knowing Brenda now has her very own personal Guardian Angel watching over her as she continues her journeys around the sun.
Now that makes me smile.
So, having missed my opportunity to stand up and speak at your final service, I thought I should write you this letter to let you know how proud I am to be your brother and that I will always keep you in my heart and in my prayers.
I figured that I would ask Don what he thought would happen to this letter when it got to the US Post Office. But, Cheryl said that I didn’t even need to put this letter in the mail. Since you are in Heaven, you already know that I wrote it.
Isn’t that wonderful?
So, I guess I’ll keep writing you letters in my head until I get to see you on the other side!