“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live.” -Norman Cousins.
12 years ago today, my older brother Jason died.
He was 27, had a wife and two young kids.
I remember the day clearly. Walking into the hospital room with my dad is forever etched into my mind.
We offered a priesthood blessing. My dad commanded him to rise…if it be god’s will.
10 years later, I found myself in a bad spot. Emotionally and spiritually, the darkest spot I’ve ever been in.
I let something inside me die.
I wasn’t happy.
Why would god help people find their lost car keys or other trivial things, yet didn’t bother to help my brother live, so that he could raise his kids?
I saw my parents hurting for the loss of their oldest child.
I now had a wife and kids of my own. I tried to hide my bitterness.
I then learned about a family. Their youngest son had recently died in a boating accident.
I thought about them all day long.
That night going though some drawers I found a news article of a charity motorcycle ride we organized the year after my brother’s death.
We called it the “Ride In Paradise”.
I thought back to the last thing I said to my brother.
Just before closing the casket. I whispered “ride in paradise, bro,” as I pinned a motorcycle riding guardian angel to his suit jacket.
The next day I found myself on the doorstep of this family who had recently lost their young son.
For some reason they hadn't left my mind.
Not sure why I was there, but I knocked on the door.
The mother answered.
I handed her a stuffed animal and said I was sorry for their loss. With tears, she hugged me and stated something that forever changed my life.
“God Bless you”.
I rode home in peace.
6 months later, I received a letter from this family.
For 6 months, they had wondered about this big bearded biker.
When she shared with her husband what had happened earlier that day, his eyes filled up with tears.
The night before he got on his knees and prayed for comfort and a sign that his wife would recognize and know that she is being watched over.
As she opened the door and saw me standing there, her eyes went directly over to my blue Harley on the street. She felt immediate comfort.
A couple weeks earlier, for her husband’s birthday, she had given him a Harley, it also happened to be blue.
Over the past couple of years, I have continued these rides.
It’s not much.
Just a teddy bear and note saying that they’re being thought of.
Always signed “Ride In Paradise.”
People did nice things for my family when my brother died. They were amazing.
Tonight, as I hopped on my bike with my 7 yr. old son, I had a lot on my mind.
Work has me stressed. Life is busy. My dad had an accident 2 weeks ago and it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.
Why bother doing this right now? There’s other stuff I need to do.
We pulled up to the house and knocked.
There were two gentlemen visiting this family. I believe they were from the local church.
The family invited us in. They didn’t know us and probably didn’t realize I had momentarily met the father several months back.
I saw one of the gentlemen reach in and hug the father. He said, “We sure miss you. “
I didn’t know what he meant, but couldn’t help think he was possibly referring to not seeing them on Sundays anymore.
I thought about my own bitterness. Maybe this father had given up on God…just like I had two years ago.
My son handed them the teddy bear.
In the letter, I explained how these rides help me feel closer to my brother and hopefully this simple act would somehow help them feel closer to their son.
I believe we have loved ones on the other side, watching over us.
When I first met this father last winter he approached me at a store. I could see a deep pain in the eyes.
He began by saying that his son loved beards and that he was growing one out for him.
Because his son had recently drowned.
He told me how cool he would have thought my beard was.
I was happy a simple beard could make this father smile for a moment and felt that we had met for a reason.
I felt that reason tonight as we rode away from their house.
There are a lot of problems in the word right now.
But, we see what we want to see.
There’s good out there.
I selfishly do these rides, because I like how they make me feel.
It’s not much. I wish could do more.
God works in mysterious ways and I’m glad he chose my late brother, a young boy that forever touch my heart and my motorcycle as a way to speak to me.
He knew it’s how I would listen and how I could serve others.
He knows each of us well.
I was broken. Hell, I’m still broken.
We all are. But, he doesn’t care.
He only cares that we try.
We try our best to make things better.
I know I can do better.
July, 6 2016