Dear Friends and Family,
Our family wanted to share a recent experience that is sacred and important to us. I get the privilege and difficult task of being the family voice, though, this will clearly be from my personal perspective. I hope it says it well enough for everyone.
For the past several months, Tom’s younger sister, Becky, has been suffering with a combination of debilitating illnesses, including diabetes, vision and hearing loss, congestive heart disease, and renal failure. Finally, her body and spirit had had enough and just a week and half ago, she quietly slipped from this life into the next. Though this was not a surprise to anyone who had been following her journey, it was still difficult and heartbreaking, leaving all who knew her to ponder the loss of her, at least for now. For her mother, her husband, her five daughters, her four siblings, her grandchildren, and her friends, saying goodbye was not easy.
Her funeral was this past Monday and the family gathered in Utah from all over the country. All of our family attended. Brydon and Mina flew out with Daven. Briahna and Merrill hit the road with their five children and our assistant and amazing friend, Faith. They loaded up The Tank, drove for two days, stayed for two days and drove home for two days. Garon, who lives in Utah, joined us at an AirBnb where we stayed together with Tom’s mom and youngest sister and her son and daughter. It was a full house.
A funeral is a milestone, and one of life’s few occasions that causes family and friends from far and wide to come together. Fortunately, this is a family that doesn’t just gather for funerals. In fact, there has been a Brett Family Reunion every summer for the past 43 years. In 2022 there were nearly 100 family members in attendance! So, Becky’s funeral was a special, bonus gathering of this amazing family who prioritizes “being there.”
As I observed the activities over this past weekend as we all met again to honor Becky, I couldn’t help but ask myself a few questions:
How can so much love, sorrow, joy, and grief exist in one heart at the same time?
How can so many emotions be felt in just one single day?
How can you cry in a heap one minute and full-heartedly laugh the next?
I guess that’s just how it is with big, crazy, close families. As I watched this amazing group of people, ages 3 months to nearly 89 years, I witnessed, in one single room, the circle of life in a circle of love.
I saw a baby boy in arms being passed from and to aunts, uncles, teens and tots all eager to kiss his yummy cheeks and coax him to smile.
I saw little ones – carefree cousins – giggling, squabbling, jumping, dancing, pretending, and growing before my eyes. Oh, to be so young and innocent, free from the weight of this occasion!
I saw tweens & teens, aware of the gravity of the moment, trying to make sense of something they haven’t lived quite long enough to really understand – in that awkward stage between innocence and knowing. And fully feeling.
I saw the newly married couple, who just two weeks prior, wearing wedding dress and tuxedo, had visited Grandma Becky at her bedside at Riverway. She was gone now and wouldn’t be here to know their future children.
I saw nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, in-laws and outlaws sharing memories of happy days at Becky’s house- late night game nights, spaghetti sauce with added sugar, clean sheets and fresh towels, no pressure to be anything but who you are.
I saw five daughters, so accustomed to calling mom for advice on cooking and crafting and living. The responsibility rests too soon with them to preserve and share memories of her and carry on her legacy.
I saw two brothers and two sisters – without Becky, there’s a gaping hole in the family fabric. And how can they not be pondering their own mortality? How did this happen to our sister at age 63? Just younger, or just older than me?
I saw a husband looking lost and lonely and tired. What now? What does he do tomorrow after everyone goes home? There is no way to prepare for this, no matter how hard you try.
I saw the mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother of all, nearly 89 years young, so saddened by the passing of this daughter, her middle child. Mothers aren’t supposed to outlive their children! Is she feeling the tug between loved ones waiting in heaven and those who remain here in this scene?
As I watched this glorious gathering of generations, and pondered the beautiful, precious, and sometimes painful plan of family, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Even with all its flaws and imperfections, this family is strong and resilient, and bound together by love. It was hard to say goodbye to Becky, and it was hard to say goodbye to each other after feeling the warmth and unity that brought us all together to honor her. But I found so much comfort in the Divine purposes of family, and I felt peace knowing that we will all be together again soon. This summer. And forever.
With so much love,
P.S. Two weeks before Becky’s passing, Tom and I visited her in Utah for one last time. While we were there at her bedside, she asked Tom if he would sing at her funeral. She requested Josh Groban’s song “To Where You Are.” If you know this song, you will understand how difficult this wish would be to fulfill. Not only is this song difficult to sing from a technical standpoint, but it is also extremely emotional in and of itself, let alone when thinking about the death of a loved sister. Tom wondered how in the world he would do it. His rendition of the song this past Monday was nothing short of a miracle – one of many surrounding Becky’s passing. Clearly, it was important to God that Tom sing the song for Becky well, amidst all the deep emotion. God’s highest purposes for music were met in an unforgettable performance that freed everyone to cry much needed, healing tears.