My brother Kevin loved baseball. All three of my brothers played the sport throughout their childhoods, but Kevin was the one who pursued it all the way through college, pitching for the Auburn Tigers from 1997 to 2000, until his elbow was so injured that he couldn’t play anymore. He went with me to many an Atlanta Braves game over the years, and was beyond thrilled when one of his former Auburn teammates, the award-winning Tim Hudson, was traded to the team we grew up supporting.
As we grew up, Kevin completed two B.A. programs (one in Business while at Auburn and one in Accounting at the University of West Florida) and his MBA at my Alma Mater of Georgia State University. He then went on to earn his CPA certification, something that took him much time and effort to accomplish. He also went through the rigorous and lengthy training required to become a special agent for a department of the federal government, all the while supporting his growing family.
I say all of this in the past tense because Kevin died a year ago today.
I won’t go into any dramatic details about the why or the how. Suffice it to say that the movies aren’t all just a load of malarkey. If a federal agent is killed, they really do send agents in subdued suits driving dark, nondescript sedans to inform the next-of-kin and immediate family. And watching them approach, accompanied by local law enforcement, is by far one of the most grounding and unraveling experiences a person can ever undergo.
My brother left behind a wife and three children. He left behind two brothers and a sister, a mother and father, a grandmother. He left behind more aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins than you could imagine. He left behind a promising career…the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance. He left behind an inevitable wave of grief.
I write this and think of the things Kevin missed this year. Our family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, the flip of a calendar to a new year, his youngest daughter’s first birthday. More selfishly, I think of events in my life that I would have wanted to share with him. The purchase of our new home. My daughter’s first day of Kindergarten. The publication of the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy, realizing a life-long dream of mine.
But I also think of everything else Kevin left behind. He left behind thirty-three years of wonderful memories spread over thousands of people. He left behind in me the certainty that there is something more to life than just the brief span of time we dwell on this planet, even if no one really knows what more there is. He left behind three beautiful children who will one day walk in their father’s footsteps and know that their father was a great guy who had an arresting, dimpled smile and the desire to succeed at anything he did.
Anyone who has lost someone close to them knows how difficult this was to write. And most writers out there also know how cathartic the experience has been for me. So thank you for reading what, for me, has been the most important blog of my career. And I would truly love to hear from you if you have any input or experiences of your own to share. For now, I’ll leave you with my final farewell to Kevin:
Dedication from Central:
This book is dedicated with love to my brothers,
my twin, my angel, my rock:
Michael, Kevin, Mark
All sisters should be so lucky.