A gift received and cherished…

“There’s no use doing a kindness if you do it a day too late.”

Charles Kingsley

As I reflected on today’s quote, I kept coming back to what I wrote on Christmas Eve in my journal since it captures the importance of taking nothing for granted, especially time. Even though this is intensely personal and not a typical posting for my self-leadership blog, I think the message is aligned and relevant. Thank you for letting me share it.  

I miss you, Gray. I honestly can’t believe you are gone. There were so many things that we were going to do in life. There were so many things that your kids were going to enjoy with you. There were so many things that we hadn’t done yet, but we were always going to do “one day.” If anything, Brother, this has been the most potent and impactful reminder to me that “one day” isn’t a promise; it is merely a hope or perhaps even a wish.

With our intense desire to control, we humans think of “one day” as a guarantee of what is to come, or at the very least, as an affirmation of what we want to come to pass. But it isn’t true; we aren’t in control and we never have been. I am sorry that you had to die for me to receive this education. I wish we could have learned this teaching together and thereby enjoyed the fruits of that experience collectively.  

Brother, I won’t waste this gift. As hard and painful as it is for everyone that loved you, your passing is a gift of awareness and meaning. With every fiber of my being, I can feel that my entire perception of life and what is important is evolving. I know I will have to fight a battle for the rest of my life to hang on to this new awareness of the preciousness of time and the prioritization of what is essential, but I promise you that I will fight that fight. Your death won’t be an event that gets lost in time as a moment of sadness and a bunch of fond memories. There are so many great memories, and yet there should be even more.  

That is the lesson here. We are all going to die. We don’t know when, where, or how but death is inevitable. When we all die, the only things that matter will have been our choices about how we lived when we were alive. The relationships we invested in will be what matters. The experiences we shared with others. The gifts we gave away. Death is a permanent end to our own lives’ active sharing but isn’t an end to those shared experiences. Those memories are to be cherished and reflected upon with joy. 

I am grateful that we have so many great memories, and while it breaks my heart to think that we will create no more together, I am so thankful to have had you as my brother. I promise you that I will celebrate you and that your death will carry significant meaning for the rest of my life, however long that may be.  

Brother, I love you. I miss you. Thank you for giving me this gift of awareness about what is important. On the Eve of our Savior’s birth, I am incredibly thankful to know that there will be a time when we are together again and will laugh together for all eternity.  

Grayson, you have left a mark on my life that can never be diminished. I love you, brother.  

The only life worth living is the one that is intensely personal…

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”

Leo Tolstoy

The past 48 hours have been some of the longest and most surreal of my life. On Thursday night, my little brother suffered a major cardiac event, and despite the heroic efforts of the seven emergency responders who rushed to his aid, he lost his earthly life. It is hard for me even to write these words and realize that they are real. In all honesty, I keep wanting to wake up from this dream/nightmare and pick up the phone and hear his voice again. Unfortunately, it isn’t a dream, and the opportunity to listen to him speak will have to wait until we meet again in Heaven.  

I share this here because it is intensely personal, and because it is the stark reality of the world in which we live. We will suffer loss and pain, and nothing we can ever do will prepare us for losing someone we love.  

My brother, Kenneth Grayson Holcomb, or “Gray,” as I called him, was 40 years old and far too young to be leaving this earth. He was simply one of the best people I have ever known, and anyone that knew him would echo that sentiment. He lived to serve others and was always happiest when he could drop everything and help someone else.  

My Dad, my brother, and I spent all of our formative years as a triumvirate doing anything and everything we could do outdoors. Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, etc., you name it, and we did it. We shared the same passions and hobbies and had dreams of one-day going elk hunting together and were looking forward to lots of fun times with our families camping in the mountains.  

In preparation for today’s blog post, I read many quotes and did a lot of praying. I uncovered so many great words of wisdom in my research, and I had a hard time choosing the right one. Ultimately I decided on this quote because it reminded me that while it is risky to love intensely, it is the act of loving someone else that provides healing. I chose to love, and I have been overwhelmed by the love and support that I have received from so many people in response to Grayson’s death. I have never felt more loved, and I consider myself blessed to have so many people in my life than can love so strongly.  

Life is short, precious, and beautiful. We cannot and should not take one moment or one relationship for granted. Hug those you love tighter tonight, and make sure they know exactly how much you care. It is only through love, intense love, that you will find the strength to carry on in immense sorrow.  

I love you Grayson, and I am going to miss you. I’ll see you in Heaven, brother…

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Grayson is survived by his wife, Donna, and their two children James (11) and Marie (9). If you want to do something for them, I created a GoFundMe page for the kid’s college education, and you can learn more about that at this GoFundMe Link

Kenneth Grayson Holcomb: 2/11/1980 – 12/10/2020

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