Although I have no doubt that my brother, Ryan, and I loved our dad in equal measure, in many ways our brother, Billy, was hit hardest by his death. Billy saw dad every day, sharing an office with him just as my father had shared an office with his own father before him.
Billy is fourth in a line of admirable men by the name of William Harvey. I am sure he has felt immense pressure to live up to his name, in a community in which our dad was so well loved and respected.
The truth is, Billy works harder and puts more pressure on himself than anyone I know. He has always been that way, as long as I can remember.
Dad was so proud of him.
Billy is a funny guy. He is often sarcastic, with a quick wit and a gift for one liners. I think he most enjoys the company of people who make him laugh (including his hilarious wife, his family, and a group of great friends he’s been loyal to since childhood).
There is no doubt he loves his family and friends, though I never would describe Billy as particularly affectionate, nor emotive.
What I’ve learned is, there is something about experiencing a great loss that cracks a person open, revealing parts of them that had been previously hidden. Over the last three months, I have slowly come to the surprising realization that Billy may well be the most sensitive of us all. Hidden beneath the intensity and the sarcasm, is truly the most tender heart.
Sorry Billy, the secret is out.
When you look into a person’s eyes and see your own pain reflected back at you, I suppose you have two choices:
You can decide it’s too painful to look there. You stop meeting their gaze, and your relationship begins to wither…
You can choose to hold their gaze, and to truly see one another in all of your broken-ness.
My brothers and I have chosen to hold each other’s gaze, and I believe we see each other now in a way we never have before. There was always love, but now I feel a devotion between us that is deeper and more authentic than I ever could have imagined.
Though I am not yet in a place to applaud finding silver linings in our grief, it does occur to me that had we not been so mutually wrecked by this loss, perhaps we’d never have known how deeply we truly love one another.
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