The speed with which it lodged in my throat took me by surprise. What had begun with the sharing of a lighthearted meme ended with me feeling like I might cry over two tiny words from Brian. Brothers can do that to you. 

I grew up with five brothers, three older, two younger. I was six years old when my sixth brother, Howard, joined the family, marrying my older sister Diane.  All save one always lived within a half hour drive of me. 

I lost my brother Tim at 35 and my brother-in-law Howard after 46 years of marriage to my sis.  

When Kevin and I started dating, I got my first glimpse of another brood of five brothers. They played Sunday golf with churchly dedication, never missed a birthday at Mama’s Pizza, and formed their own five man Chicago Bears fan club. 

As one by one they quietly stepped across the living room to hand me their gift, my jaw dropped and my eyes filled. I hadn’t expected them to be my brothers on our very first Christmas. 

As Covid-19 brings continued separation from our families, everyone searches for reminders of who and what matters most.  My brother Dave drives his wife from their quiet country home into the metropolitan medical center for chemo, leaving her at the door. My brother Tom ends his dream trip to Bali with my sister-in-law, returning with a sore throat and cough at age 71.  My brother Mel keeps his monthly commitment to donate blood platelets like those once given to his wife in her final days. 

Despite Howard’s death, he returns to me to bring a chuckle when I hear my nephew’s laugh that sounds just like his dad. My younger brother Tim visits regularly, reminding me to love my family well and that days on this earth are limited for all of us. 

And with two simple words, “We’re here,” Brian reminds me that neither quarantine nor death can separate us from those we love. We’re here and so is the love. 

I’m in no hurry to be reminded of this wisdom by the loss of a loved one. Stay at home advice is plenty. 

Be safe, my brothers all.  

Coach Koenig 

What helps you to remember what’s most important? 

Whose love can you feel despite the distance? 

Who might you connect with who is longing to know you’re there? 

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