A Wake Up Call

I had not wanted to write this. And if I did manage to complete this, I had not wanted to post this. And if I had posted this, I had not wanted anyone to read it. But if I had posted it, then it is a fault in me and I am sorry.

I hadn’t wanted to wake up for a long time- living in absence, comfort and indifference, because it is by far, the easier way to live. So I guess I had to be shaken up into existence.

My friend passed away this Monday. I’m still in shock. I’m still figuring it out. I’m still thinking. I still don’t know how to write this, but every time I sat down to write, this was the voice that came out. This was all that had been running through my mind these days, and I didn’t know how to not write about it. It didn’t make sense, and till now I still don’t know if I should (or should have) post (-ed) this.

When I got the text, I had thought it was a typo, that it was some other name that had fallen. I just saw him two days ago! I texted back to ask, but it was too late, I knew it was true.

I had shouted out, ” WHAT is this?!”

There was no answer.

“This is ridiculous…”

Still no answer.

“WHAT’S GOING ON?!”

I don’t know what I expected. Maybe I expected God to tear through the heavens and meet me with my endless barrage of questions, but that didn’t happen. It was just a great, big, aching silence.

We attended his wake on Wednesday. The whole time I still had not believed it until I saw it in the material- a lifeless body lying there in a white sheet. To lose someone that is so full of life, a person who, every time I saw him, would say “Hey how are you!”, is a punch to the gut that takes the wind out of you, and I don’t know when I’ll get that wind back.

It was grief. It was shock. It was a refusal to believe. The fall was so sudden, the prognosis so inevitably certain. The wails of my friend- his wife, so haunting. I had not planned to cry, but when you’re standing up there looking at the faces of the people looking back at you, all your plans get thrown out the window. Furrowed brows of anguish, chokes between the sobs, I had a plan in my mind of what to say, but then, I stood there, and I wasn’t even sure I was coherent.

I started by stating the obvious, Brandon was a man so full of life, so full of passion, a plan, and a purpose for God. He had an energy hat was infectious and a smile that lit up the whole room, and he was always smiling, so when he’s not here, his absence makes it so much more of a “shock”. I saw nods from the crowd and a pain from his wife’s eyes.

I told them that my brother had wanted to come that day, but he couldn’t because he felt sick. Sick to the stomach. A depressed kind of sick. A sick, because of the shock, and the inability to comprehend what had just happened. I told them that I knew he had wanted to be there to say goodbye, but he didn’t know how, but  I wanted to thank the family for having this funeral, and giving us a chance to pay our respects.

He had a life that was so completely consumed and so taken by God. He was a living testimony of what we could be and should be if we just practiced surrender. Everyday he woke up to a purpose, and had the kind of passion I wished I was brave enough to have. Jeffrey said (And this is me ad libitum), ” He had lived the life I wanted to live, if I had not been so distracted by all the things of the world.” It was true and evident in his everyday. His passion for people and a love that reflected Jesus’ love. The whole time I kept thinking,

“This is madness. This is unfair.”

One by one, our church’s youths, the often shy, and the people that would have never stood up on stage to speak, stood up and was counted for, because they wanted to honor this man. It was one of the longest testimonial periods, and aptly so because of the impact he had on all of us and the legacy he left though in his short years with us.

It was unbearable. I still think its one big, incredible, cruel joke. You were only twenty four. You were supposed to grow old with Ju Lynn. You were supposed to go on mission trips, lead the youths, do so much greatness that you were already doing.

A lot of times, Christians are told not to question God, and that the questions are a sign of disrespect. I disagree with that idea. Because we know that God is all-knowing, He already knows our questions and reactions even before we’ve formed it, and He knows our heart, He knows when a question is a sign of disrespect and lack of fear, or if its one of grief.

We as Christians are also told a lot that there’s a purpose for everything, but how do you explain to a grieving widow that her husband’s seemingly purposeless accident was for a purpose? You can’t. No answer will satisfy the pain even if it did fulfill some sort of “purpose”.

But somehow, to know that God is bigger than our pain and bigger than our loss, it makes God so much more profound than anything we’ve ever experienced. I had said in my testimony that, ” When I first heard of the news, I was immediately filled with anger and guilt.”

” Anger at myself and guilt for at all the times I could’ve been a better friend, and to know him more.” But I was selfish, and I didn’t know why I held back, and I didn’t know why I always held back. I don’t remember if I said to the crowd that, I asked God why this happened, but I do remember saying, ” But then I looked at Ju Lynn’s face, and saw how Pastor Alex spoke… there wasn’t a sense that they were angry towards God at all. They of all people were the ones that had every right to be, but they weren’t at all.”

” … and what more me? What right do I have to be angry? None. And they’ve really blessed me.”

Brandon, I know, even though this is titled to you, you’re not going to read this, you’re not here. You’re probably up there hanging ten with The Big Guy right now, being filled with immense joy and perfect love. But I want to remember you and honor your life, as someone who has made me want life and want life passionately.

There’s this motto you have that I’ve taken on as mine, it’s ” Go all out, Hold nothing back.” And you lived like that, all out, holding nothing back, not your smiles, not your love, not your energy. You’ve taught me, and you’re continually teaching me to live outwardly, because I can no longer afford to hold my love in.

You know death is for the living. Funerals and all these odes, verses and memorials are not for Brandon. He doesn’t need it. Its really just for the living, to remind us of the person he is, to remind us of life and its brevity, and that our existence here on earth is just a passing vapor.  It reminds us of all the things we need to hold dear and the things that are important.

I hadn’t wanted to post this out of respect, because it wasn’t my story to tell and because I don’t want anyone to feel “sorry” for me, because it is not “me” that should receive comfort. It is the family that has lost that should receive the comfort. But I need people to know what I’ve experienced, because the living needs to wake up and know that there’s something bigger out there needing your attention.

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