I was his “Sissy”.
I loved him, and I love him still. Today my little brother, Eric Wolfe, would have been 40 years old. Forty. That is nearly impossible for me to imagine. He is forever 16 to me. He left us for heaven, and it altered our lives in so many ways – both good and bad.
There are always the things I wonder about. For instance, how many kids would he have had? Would they have called me Aunt Sissy? Who would he have married? Would we have tagged each other in all the “sibling day” stuff that goes on on Facebook? Or would he have thought that a little too goofy? I know how he loved Justin, I wonder what he would have thought about all the rest of my boys? Would he have become a marine biologist? A veterinarian? Zoologist?
Mostly, though, when thinking of him, I have thought about how wonderful heaven must be, and how I wouldn’t wish him back and away from there for anything. My goodness, he is with our precious Jesus, and with so many of our loved ones who have gone home already. I always imagine that they are just standing on tiptoe looking to see if any of the rest of us are coming through the gates yet. Then I realize that heaven is so beautiful and perfect that they aren’t missing us at all probably. They’ll just be glad when we do get there. I don’t know if shenanigans are allowed in heaven or not, but if they are, I bet he and my granddaddy are really having a ball! Eric and he always claimed to know everything while here on earth. There’s no telling what they’d say now that they are up there!
The good things – yes there are good things about losing loved ones – well, it is hard to step back and see them, but they are most assuredly there. Eric always, and I do mean always, hugged and told his loved ones that he loved us each time we parted ways or hung up the phone. Sometimes it was almost aggravating, but because of that habit of his, I can literally see and hear in my mind him telling me, “I love you, Sissy,” the last time I saw him. I told him I loved him too. I’ve never had to wonder if he loved me, or if he knew that I loved him, because of his taking the time to do that. And, because of that fact, I nearly always hug and tell my own loved ones and friends that I love them. (There are some of them who I don’t think like mushy words or displays, so I leave them be ha) I hope when I’m gone, they won’t wonder about my love for them, or that I knew of theirs for me.
Another good thing is that by losing a brother when he and I were so young, I had to prioritize my grief and resolve his dying with my living. I really had to cling on to the promises of God. I had to look hard to see and find the good in all of this. I had to dig around to grasp hold of something for which to be thankful about it. We know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. We also know that we are to give thanks in everything.
I learned not to question why he left us so quickly and needlessly, when I learned to thank God for the time that we did have Eric. You see, Eric wasn’t really supposed to live when he was born. He was two months premature back in 1977. Little hope was held out that he would survive, yet he did. Not only did he survive, he thrived. He was so smart and knew so many things. He always seemed wise beyond his years. When we were kids, he was stung by a bee and nearly died because unbeknownst to us, he was highly allergic. Later, when we were teenagers, he nearly drowned on our vacation. So, I turned my questioning about why Eric was gone into thanking the Lord for letting us keep him as long as we did.
I learned that no matter what we all feel like when we lose someone dear to us, life marches on. I could have climbed into bed and covered my head up and cried and cried. That’s really what I wanted to do, but when I looked at those big brown eyes of Justin’s I realized that I did have to keep living life and living it well. Our loved ones don’t want us to tear up and cry whenever we think of them. I decided that it is almost an insult to Eric’s memory if that is what thinking of him does to me. I know that he would MUCH rather me laugh about all the things we did, and places we went, and songs we sang, and fights we had, and secrets we shared, and all the good things. You see, his life wasn’t about his death. It was his LIFE. And, his memory should not be about his death, but rather what a great life he lived and all the love he shared.
Moreover, we [Christians] don’t grieve as those who have no hope. We have the promise of the resurrection! When we trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation, we share in His victory over death and the grave. Our victory is indeed in Jesus! I know that Eric is with Jesus. I know his testimony. And, I wouldn’t wish him away from the arms of our loving Savior for anything! Thank you Lord Jesus for blessed assurance.
Happy birthday, Eric. I love you, and I’ll see you by and by.
PS One of the other things I learned (and this is kind of funny) is that obviously there is no such thing as ghosts, or Eric would have been one for no other reason than to scare me and laugh about it! Ha ha