Patterico's Pontifications

2/4/2014

RIP Little Brother – UPDATE

Filed under: General — JD @ 7:05 pm

[guest post by JD]

Tonight, after a year and a half struggle with leukemia, my younger brother passed away. He received spectacular care at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, where he had been hospitalized since August of last year. He will be laid to rest at the Air Force Academy where he was a Cadet.

He was a son, a brother, an uncle, a good friend, a pilot, and as good of a person as I have ever known, or will know. In his professional career, he was literally a rocket scientist, making rockets, missiles, and fuselages for people like the USAF, IDF, etc. he served in Iraq and in Bosnia, then again in Iraq with KBR.

As a person, he was 15 months my junior, the best man in my wedding, the Godfather to my oldest daughter, and despite having a wildly successful career, was as mischievous and carefree of a person as you would ever meet.

Godspeed, little bro. Heaven just got a little more interesting tonight.

Update

This friend of my brother’s did a better job of describing him than I could ever do. These kinds of things we are only now learning about … I am using his words, absent the names. This is who my little brother was.

When I was at USAFA, I struggled mightily internally, horribly depressed with the choice I’d made, in constant struggles with a culture I wasn’t quite able to adapt to as I was transforming into a very different person than the one who had entered. By my second year there, the struggles turned into serious depression on the verge of self-harm. A few friends were my life line, encouraging me, reaffirming my identity, giving love and support. Nobody was more loyal, more loving, more supportive and more consistent in his care and protection of me than Brian. I don’t know if I’ve ever had anybody stick up for me or have my back in the worst of times more than B.A. It is not an exaggeration for me to say that he may have saved my life with his friendship.

When I decided to leave USAFA, he was the one who took me to the airport to say goodbye forever to that life. He was the one reassuring me that I was making the right decision. He was the one who knew, probably even better than I did at the time, that I belonged in a different place and that my future happier, better self was waiting to be born back home in Madison.

The last time I saw him was in Madison. He came to visit and we did the State St. thing, coffee shops, book stores, bars. . . He couldn’t stop smiling at me, seeing how right he’d been, seeing how happy I’d become. “You made it!” he said.

I just found out this morning that BA died of leukemia. I’m so out of touch with that old life that I don’t really have anybody to share my grief with (except for you, Tim,who I thank deeply for your generous time). So, I’ll awkwardly use facebook to eulogize a man who made my life so much better.

B.A. you were a huge mountain of a man, a midwesterner like me (Bears fan if I remember correctly, forgiven bro), simultaneously no-nonsense and full of frivolity. A wicked sense of humor, righteous sense of rage, and a deep, deep well of kindness and compassion for your loved ones. You were the type of guy everybody wants to have around, never a burden, because you worked hard, your played hard, you were never small-minded, and always focused on being a decent human being. You were one hell of a decent human being, my brother.

“Here’s a toast to the host / of those who love the vastness of the sky… ”

To you, Brian. You made a dent, you are deeply loved, you will be sorely missed.

—JD

119 Responses to “RIP Little Brother – UPDATE”

  1. Ding

    JD (c15912)

  2. http://www.skygod.com/quotes/highflight.html

    High Flight

    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

    Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
    I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
    And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

    — John Gillespie Magee, Jr

    Steve57 (71fc09)

  3. I’m sorry, JD. Please accept my condolences.

    nk (dbc370)

  4. My most heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

    Gazzer (3956f1)

  5. My condolences JD. Inadequate as they are.

    Craig Mc (b890e3)

  6. To Absent Comrades…

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  7. he fought and fought

    i remember when i first heard he had leukemia i was in the foothills of the ozarks trying to remember the procedure for how you get gas when the pump doesn’t take cards

    i remember trying to find this cross for to say a prayer:

    http://localcolourgallery.com/wp-content/gallery/lisa-rowland/the-overlook-at-camp-ozark.jpg

    it’s hidden behind gates anymore is what I found out

    and that seems like forever ago, and it’s crazy daunting to think that every day since he was fighting and fighting

    prayers and peace to you and yours my friend

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  8. Horrible news. So sorry. Praying for you and your whole family.

    Robert C. J. Parry (a5133c)

  9. I am sorry to hear this, Sir. My condolences.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  10. Condolences and prayers JD.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  11. My condolences, JD …

    Alastor (2e7f9f)

  12. May you be comforted from Heaven.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  13. My condolences to you and your family, JD.

    mg (31009b)

  14. I’m so sorry, JD. Please accept my heartfelt condolences.

    SarahW (267b14)

  15. Sorry for your loss.

    BradnSA (69f417)

  16. JD,
    Very sorry to read this news. Please accept my condolences.

    vor2 (b59723)

  17. Thoughts, prayers and condolences, JD.

    Colonel Haiku (04d8c0)

  18. I’m very sorry you’ve lost your brother. I’m glad he made a mark on the world and clearly had a loving family, and I pray for you all to be comforted in any way possible.

    Dustin (f6642f)

  19. Your eulogy was very touching . My prayers are with you and your family. I am discouraged that the world has lost a good person.

    SDHarms (999fed)

  20. I am so sorry to hear this, JD! He sounds like a very special person who managed a full life in the time he had. You and yours have my sincere condolences.

    jim2 (31f75f)

  21. I just have no words.

    My thoughts are with you and your family, and all of your loved ones.

    kinlaw (fbb735)

  22. I’m so sorry. My condolences to the entire family on the loss of such a special man.

    Pauline (51503f)

  23. Sounds like someone I *wish* I knew. Like yourself. May your pain dull quickly, but the memories burn brighter.

    TXWhiteHouse (2addbc)

  24. I’m so sorry. I lost my younger brother two years ago. The pain still remains. I try to focus on how he lived his life to the fullest.

    Praying for you and your family.

    aunursa (7014a8)

  25. I am very sorry, JD. Your little brother is gone too soon but what a fine man you have to remember. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  26. And that is a wonderful eulogy.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  27. I am so sorry for your loss, JD. Der Todt ist Grosse.

    Simon Jester (0b6892)

  28. I am sorry for your loss, JD. My condolences to you and your family. RIP.

    Ipso Fatso (10964d)

  29. Very Sorry for your loss…

    Very sorry

    he put up one hell of a fight an example for all

    EPWJ (016f5f)

  30. Very sorry to hear; my condolences to you & your family.

    The Sanity Inspector (6f36b6)

  31. My deepest condolences, JD. That’s a great tribute to him. I will leave it at the top of the site today. My very best to you and your family at this incredibly difficult time.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  32. My deepest condolences, Jd. Please be assured of my spiritual closeness to you and your family today.

    felipe (b5e0f4)

  33. My condolences my friend.

    SPQR (768505)

  34. Love and prayers, JD. An amazing tribute – clearly your family was very blessed to have such a fine young man in your lives.

    Dana (faf0de)

  35. Absent comrades.

    Mike K (cd7278)

  36. I am saddened to hear this news. My condonlences to you and your family.

    bobathome (a5591e)

  37. Condolences.

    Rodney King's Spirit (ca9e04)

  38. This Marine stand tall at guard tonight for you and your family. Semper Fidelis and Godspeed!

    reff (4dcda2)

  39. Oh JD, I am so sad to see this and to know that things did not turn out for your brother as you and your family had hoped and prayed. I’m very sorry for your loss and I send most sincere sympathy your way.

    elissa (804f90)

  40. RIP

    Maury (80f961)

  41. JD, I’m sorry to hear that. It’s terrible news.

    My condolences.

    aphrael (d09290)

  42. My deepest condolences for your loss. May your memories of the better times sustain you in the current moment.

    Loren (1e34f2)

  43. When I was a boy, I attended a Methodist church. There was a hymn we sang, and I cannot find it listed anywhere. Perhaps my memory is faulty.

    In part, the hymn went “How strange that a harp of a thousand strings / Can stay in tune so long.”

    It’s about the human body, and the frailties of life.

    I’m not as young as I used to be, but the awful truth of getting older is the realization that only heartbreak seems to make a permanent impact on most people. I know that I only really saw the value my mother brought to my life as she was dying. I was able to put aside all of my “Dr. Phil” issues. The same thing is true as my father fades like the Dylan Thomas poem.

    JD *always* valued his brother, and it has showed in countless posts and e-mails. So he is smarter than most people.

    The only value that tragedy can bring us is a reminder that we need to be more appreciative of what we have, and kinder to others.

    God bless you, JD, and your family. We have never met, you and I, but I salute you.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  44. Re 42. 43.
    For those who prefer not to click:

    When I with pleasing wonder stand
    And all my frame survey
    Lord, ’tis thy work, I own thy hand
    Thus built my humble clay
    Our life contains a thousand springs,
    And dies if one be gone.
    Strange that a harp of thousand strings
    Should keep in tune so long.

    elissa (804f90)

  45. Condolences. I have no words.

    Kevin M (536c5d)

  46. Very sorry to hear it. Deepest sympathies.

    Mitch (341ca0)

  47. Thank you, Simon, Elissa for the words to that hymm – I was deeply saddened, almost to the point of tears upon hearing this news. Like many of you, I do not know JD, or his brother except from the posts on this site. I can trace my emotional connection only to the fact that I prayed daily for JD and his brother. So I guess I had made a place in my heart for their plight, and now there exists a void (however small) in my heart.

    My heart is now at half-mast.

    felipe (b5e0f4)

  48. Thank you all, so much. While it is a blessing for him after such an ordeal, it is still unbearably sad. And unfair. Seeing him as a shell of his actual self was probably the worst thing I have ever experienced. Your support is appreciated, beyond my ability to express

    JD (6d433d)

  49. So sorry for your loss, JD.

    Pious Agnostic (7eb3b0)

  50. Condolences to you, your family, and your brother’s family, and prayers for his final disposition. I lost my dad after a year’s battle with cancer, and know well that there is no amount of warning that makes the loss any easier. Honor his memory, that will do the most to heal your own heart.

    NeoCon_1 (062f23)

  51. Deepest condolences, JD.

    Steve57 @#2 above – Very appropriate.

    Bill M (c8f413)

  52. So very sorry to hear it. May God be with you in your bereavement. I have no doubt that your brother is alive and joyous in a better world.

    Gary (e6c2aa)

  53. So Sorry, JD.

    R.I.P. “little bro”.

    askeptic (2bb434)

  54. Elissa, thank you. I wish I knew you in Real Life™, you seem like a quality person and I admire your comments.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  55. My condolences.

    Smock Puppet, Gadfly, Racist-Sexist Thug, and Bon Vivant All In One Package (225d0d)

  56. My deep condolences, Pat. I’m sorry I never got to meet your brother; he sounds like a wonderful guy, and you’re very lucky to have had him for as long as you did!

    Dafydd

    Dafydd Abhugh (763797)

  57. Comment by Dafydd Abhugh (763797) — 2/5/2014 @ 12:15 pm

    Dafydd, it was JD’s brother.

    askeptic (2bb434)

  58. Please accept my sincerest condolences. There are no adequate words. RIP, little bro. Your trials are over.

    Mannie (227531)

  59. Thoughts and prayers to your family for their loss.

    “Only the good die young.”

    - Billy Joel

    © Sponge (8110ec)

  60. [Comment deleted by management. IP address is [redacted] if you care, which comes back to Bethesda, Maryland, which is a detail no doubt of interest to long-time readers. The offending comment is preserved in JD’s response below. — P]

    More Noise to the Noise Machine (b79f23)

  61. I lost my mother to leukemia in August 2012. Today is her birthday. I will never stop missing her until we finally are reunited.

    Your message touched me deeply. I will include your brother and your family in my prayers today.

    May God comfort you and your family.

    in_awe (7c859a)

  62. Comment by More Noise to the Noise Machine (b79f23) — 2/5/2014 @ 1:33 pm

    Yet another shining example of liberal compassion. It is tough to love your enemies.

    felipe (6100bc)

  63. Simon Jester, your comment addressed to me above was very kind and I appreciate it very very much. I feel the same about you and your thoughtful and thought-provoking contributions to this blog. There are a number of folks here I wish I could meet and enjoy a chat with over a cup of coffee.

    elissa (804f90)

  64. Oh, JD-

    I am so, so sorry. What a tragedy. My deepest sympathies to you and yours for such a loss …

    It almost seems God’s calling “the good ones” home before … whatever calamity is darkening the horizon … finally gets here.

    PS- Patterico: you could delete the comment from “el trollo loco”. I’m sure none of us would miss his/her/its vitriol.

    A_Nonny_Mouse (57cacf)

  65. My heart hurts for you, JD. Thank you, though, for a lovely tribute.

    creeper (c91924)

  66. Did he also run yet another blog that reposts spin from conservative opinion sites that are all over the internet now? If so, good fucking riddance.

    Comment by More Noise to the Noise Machine (b79f23) — 2/5/2014 @ 1:33 pm

    I pity you.

    JD (4ab7ea)

  67. I had the pleasure of meeting SPQR during a layover today. Fine man, and an honor to meet him.

    JD (4ab7ea)

  68. My prayers and thoughts are with you, JD. So sad to hear. I’ve wanted to ask how he was doing, but was afraid to ask.
    Your post has truly saddened my heart. My son is beginning to come out of a particularly rough time right now with leukemia – been fighting the good fight for almost 8 years. And you are so right: “Seeing him as a shell of his actual self was probably the worst thing I have ever experienced.”
    Again, may God be with you and comfort you and your family.

    Walter Cronanty (d16f1a)

  69. Dear JD…yes, I have read lots of posts by SPQR. I don’t know his IRL name (nor Twitter handle), but he has always been a quality person.

    The real measure of a person’s worth, I think, is how they treat people with whom they disagree. I am far from perfect, but you have illustrated how to treat bad people.

    Again, condolences on your loss.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  70. We just heard yesterday about a younger cousin who lives in the Provo/Orem area and has a virulent form of cancer (don’t know the details, she is said to have approx. 6 mos) who is being treated at the Huntsman facility. Mid-40s, married with kids… one just never knows. Praying will become more a part of our lives.

    Colonel Haiku (68a574)

  71. Haiku – email the boss with her info and we can go visit her?

    JD (4ab7ea)

  72. #66… “People” like the commenter somehow fail to recognize how sad and terrible their vitriol shows them to be. True vermin.

    Colonel Haiku (68a574)

  73. Sorry for your loss.

    My thoughts and prayers for your brother and all his friends and family.

    Estragon (ada867)

  74. Will do, if I can get it… thanks, JD.

    Colonel Haiku (68a574)

  75. They shall not grow old
    As we that are left grow old.
    Age shall not worry them,
    Nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun,
    And in the morning.
    We will remember them.

    We will remember them

    Richard Aubrey (c411da)

  76. Wow, sorry man. May God bless your family in this time of loss.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  77. Prayers and condolescences, Jd,

    narciso (3fec35)

  78. Hi Neal. Don’t to you have your own family not to care about? Go don’t care about them somewhere else.

    SarahW (267b14)

  79. Simon, on twitter I’m @SPQRzilla

    As for JD saying it was an “honor” to meet me, ha. He wouldn’t even trust me enough to accept a cookie from me.

    SPQR (768505)

  80. My condolences to you and to all your family. The loss of a loved one is never easy even though you knew they have been undergoing a long illness. I recently lost my husband so I know how you must be feeling. My thoughts are with you at this sad time.

    Canadian visitor (2a6d01)

  81. Comment by SPQR (768505) — 2/5/2014 @ 4:11 pm

    Are you still handing out those Polonium-laced cookies?

    askeptic (2bb434)

  82. My most sincere condolences, JD, to you and all of those who loved him. There are several verses to Eternal Father (Navy Hymn) that are called “Air Force” verses; this is one —

    Lord, guard and guide the men who fly,
    Through the great spaces of the sky;
    Be with them traversing the air,
    In darkening storms or sunshine fair.
    O God, protect the men who fly,
    Through lonely ways beneath the sky.

    :slow salute:

    htom (412a17)

  83. Sadly, in this life the price of love is grief. May God grant you and your family His peace and to your brother, His eternal happiness.

    Margaret McCarthy (b5205a)

  84. My heart breaks for you, JD. Condolences to you and your family.

    bridget (87845c)

  85. Very sorry about your loss. Condolences to you and your family JD.

    Gerald A (bfbd30)

  86. askeptic, no, not lately.

    SPQR (768505)

  87. My condolences.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  88. I’m so sorry for your loss, JD.

    PatAZ (1b3b8e)

  89. So sorry for your loss. Sounds like he led a full and caring life

    Eddieb (eaf354)

  90. Condolences.

    Leo Marvin (b04228)

  91. Please see the update.

    JD (6571df)

  92. Indeed, everyone should please read the update.

    Incredible.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  93. Thoughts and prayers to your family, JD. Your brother sounds like a great guy to have known.

    Guess the Man Upstairs needed someone to teach the angles how to fly right.

    Godspeed to your brother.

    Pons Asinorum (8ce71a)

  94. Re update: how powerfully eloquent to describe one as having made a “dent” in this life. A permanent marker that one was here, not to be forgotten, and leaving behind so much of themselves so those who loved them can always remember and be inspired by… My god, that is a life well lived.

    Dana (fbbeab)

  95. We are only measured by the size of the holes we leave in others’ lives when we are gone.

    Big hole there, that’s clear to me – a stranger to JD’s brother.

    SPQR (768505)

  96. That is awful… hang tough JD. Your little brother is at rest and watching over you now.

    steveg (794291)

  97. A loyal Soldier departed our battlefield today

    He fought bravely without hesitation
    Never stopping to question
    To calculate the odds or make accusation
    He wanted to stay but Headquarters insisted
    It was time to rotate; a new post, a promotion
    This doesn’t seem right it’s too early for sure
    But he’d finished his mission
    With honor and distinction
    Leaving us better prepared
    To fill the void of his departure

    Godspeed BA

    Prayers and Condolences to JD and his family

    Danger (b620f8)

  98. UPDATE:

    This friend of my brother’s did a better job of describing him than I could ever do…

    JD, I thought you did just fine. Your brother’s friend, as eloquent as he is, just confirmed the impression you gave me. Your brother was a skilled engineer, and a good stick, and an outstanding man who brightened the lives of of those lucky enough to know him.

    I know there aren’t words of condolence that will ease your pain at his loss. But the way I look at it he traded those wings he earned in the Air Force for another set. But in a more perfect world, those wings don’t come with having to learn emergency procedures or worry about using an ejection seat to get back down.

    “Here’s a toast to the host / of those who love the vastness of the sky… ”

    Indeed, sir!

    Steve57 (71fc09)

  99. I’m quite certain I’ve never heard a eulogy that gave evidence of a more glowing life.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  100. How did this post get three down from the top? Did that happen when it was updated?

    Patterico (9c670f)

  101. 99. Cannot say different.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  102. Everyone could benefit from a brother like yours, JD.

    mg (31009b)

  103. I think the time stamp changed with the update. I changed it back.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  104. I enjoyed the update. I’m sad for JD’s loss. I only hope that when my life is through I lived as well as JD’s accomplished and awesome brother.

    Dustin (303dca)

  105. I’m so sorry, JD.

    Love is everything, isn’t it?

    Patricia (be0117)

  106. Condolences and God Bless.

    Rich (a5d991)

  107. I can’t imagine the sorrow of losing my little brother. My heart breaks for you, JD.

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  108. It’s a rare person who has the same good character and humor with family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. B.D. was obviously one of those rare men.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  109. Sorry for the typo. B.A., not B.D.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  110. Condolences to you, J.D., and your family & Brian’s friends.

    Jeff Lebowski (7a1733)

  111. Very sorry to hear this, JD.

    (Power just came back on after 36+ hrs, ice storm).

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  112. Sincere condolences on your loss.

    JEA (fb1111)

  113. JD and family, Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss.

    Stu707 (5b5ec2)

  114. I just wanted to say what a gracious, thoughtful fellow JD is. I had mentioned in passing on this thread that I’d just heard about my cousin up in Utah being treated at the Huntsman facility and JD then offered to stop by to visit her when he returned to Utah this coming week for his brother’s funeral. I got some more up to date info that indicated that they had done all they could at Huntsman for my cousin and that she had been moved to a care facility about 40 miles south near her home and family, as the end was near. I followed up with JD to thank him for his thoughtful gesture and explained what I’d found out.

    She had contracted pneumonia and was being administered morphine to dull the pain, and early this morning I was informed that my cousin had passed away. She had fallen away from her faith as she had grown older, but her sister said that she kept singing the “Primary” (church program for kids aged 5 thru 12) song…”Heavenly Father are you really there?” to get her through these past days. I hope He is and that she’s now with her family members on the other side.

    Thanks again, JD… safe travels and God’s blessings on you and your family.

    Colonel Haiku (9a60c9)

  115. 114. She had fallen away from her faith as she had grown older, but her sister said that she kept singing the “Primary” (church program for kids aged 5 thru 12) song…”Heavenly Father are you really there?” to get her through these past days. I hope He is and that she’s now with her family members on the other side.

    Thanks again, JD… safe travels and God’s blessings on you and your family.

    Comment by Colonel Haiku (9a60c9) — 2/8/2014 @ 4:34 pm

    Matthew 20:9-16

    9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

    13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

    16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

    I think I can understand, JD, why your younger brother was such a good man.

    Steve57 (71fc09)

  116. Sorry to hear about your loss, JD. Please accept my prayers and condolences for you family.

    Amalgamated Cliff Divers, Local 157 (f7d5ba)

  117. I am very sorry for your loss. You have my deepest and most heartfelt condolences.

    Worc1 (4e4ff5)

  118. Col,

    I’m sorry for your loss, very sorry

    EPWJ (1ea63e)


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