It was September in 2005. I had recently moved to New Braunfels, Texas. I was 23-years-old. My brother was 20-years-old, and expecting his first child, a daughter to be named McKenzie. He and his wife were still living in my home town in Southwest Missouri.
I was sitting at a bar when I got a phone call from my mother. She had told me what had happened, it was displeasing news, even more so since it was the day after 9/11. She suggested that I give my brother a call. He was audibly and understandably upset. I don’t really remember much of the conversation, other than “It really hurts” and “It’s just not fair”. At that moment I decided to go home, to at least be able to comfort my brother in his time of need.
I called my boss right then and explained what had happened. I decided to go ahead into work the next morning and figure out what my plans were to be. I didn’t have a car reliable enough to get me back home, so I was going to have to rent one. Because I was too young my boss generously offered to put it on his credit card, and then I would pay cash when I got back. I had a bit of extra money saved up, so I wouldn’t be using any vacation time either. We finished the paper work, and I was on my way home to get packed.
Later that morning I started the long ten-hour drive home. I can’t recall a single part of this. All I could think about was getting home and seeing my family.
The next thing I can remember is driving to the hospital the next day. I called their room and his wife’s mom answered. She offered me directions and told me she would let my brother know I was on my way. I ended up making a wrong turn that cost me about fifteen minutes, but I got there nonetheless. I called again while I was pulling into the parking lot. He met me down stairs and led me up to their room.
We sat for a few minutes, making light conversation. His wife was probably watching TV or looking at pictures or something like that. I may have been selfish because I was only concerned with him. We both figured out that neither one of us had eaten that day yet, so we headed on over to the mall so we could pick up a little of everything. With orders in hand we were on our way. If I remember right we went ahead and ate there, and then brought back food for his wife to eat.
I can remember leaving the mall parking lot when a very pretty girl crossed in front of us. I told him “You see that girl? That’s ugly in Texas.” It wasn’t true but it worked in lightening the mood some. We headed back to the hospital after that.
The next thing I remember is the memorial service. There wasn’t a funeral, just a grave side service offered by the local priest. It was short, my brother and his family surrounded by many friends.
She would have been eight-years old today, and probably the most spoiled, cutest eight-year old girl in the world.
18) The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19) Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. ~ Psalms 34: 18-19