Thursday, November 14, 2013

Remembering Brett

A cascade of red roses flowed across his casket, deer antlers and pheasant feathers framing the bouquet. As the octogenarian Baptist minister described Brett, “He was all man. He was 12 inches of a foot, 36 inches of a yard, and 16 ounces of a pound.”

Mom, dad and I trekked across Texas to Victoria two days ago to be with my cousin Lynda and our extended family, all of us trying to wrap our minds around 46-year-old Brett’s death. Despite the tragic purpose of our gathering, I felt like it was a gift to be there. A comfort to drive up to Aunt Janet and Uncle Bill’s home late at night, to be welcomed in to the warmth of their living room filled with family and Lynda’s close friends in the days after this life-changing event. Through all the interactions with aunts and uncles and cousins, I found myself looking around the corner for Grandma Esther. She’s been in her heavenly home more than a decade now, but her spirit sure is present when we all get together.

Yesterday morning a large crowd gathered in the Baptist church for Brett’s service. A reception and lunch followed in fellowship hall, and then our caravan of about 50 cars made the 90-mile, police-escorted drive from Victoria to the Oakville cemetery where Brett’s parents are buried.

After a short service for the burial, Dad and I stood back from the crowd and watched as about twenty men filed past Lynda and her parents, offering their condolences and hugs, each one in a suit, boots, and a camo and neon orange “Anderson Bros” hat. One by one, Brett’s co-workers exited the funeral tent with big tears streaming down their faces. Just the day before, these same men attended another co-worker’s funeral - Brett’s mentor and good friend who was with him in the head-on collision last Friday.

Besides serving as a reminder of the brevity of our days, this time with my family displayed the gift of a faith-filled legacy. All of these truths our parents taught us - Biblical truths regarding life, love, grace, eternity... it’s really the real deal. It was what my grandparents taught my parents. And what my great-grandparents taught my grandparents before them. In these situations, when life changes in a moment, what a comfort to already have experienced - for generations - the peace and provision of Christ.

Even as I received the email about Brett’s accident from Dad last Friday, I immediately felt grief for Lynda, but I wasn’t worried about her. The hardest days are for sure yet to come, and I don’t imagine she or her parents or Brett’s brother will truly ever “recover” this side of Heaven. But I am deeply comforted that they are with hope, with comfort, and with confidence that Christ’s presence provides. The whole tone of the death process - the conversations, the consolations, the preparations... with the reality of Eternity, our family’s perspective is one of deep grief mixed with deep hope. And it makes all the difference.

I suppose more than honoring Brett’s life, more than praising family and friends who have stepped in to comfort Lynda and those closest to Brett, I want to raise my eyes Heavenward and thank God for his provision and presence smack dab in the middle of our grief  - specifically right now for my cousin Lynda. Grateful that those around her will comfort her by pointing her to the true Comforter.
Brett Ray Morgan 1967-2013
A generation of Gilbreaths and spouses
Cousins - Kim, Pam, me, Lynda, Emily and Mark
For you have been my hope, O sovereign Lord, 
my confidence since my youth. 
From birth I have relied on you; 
You brought me forth from my mother's womb. 
I will ever praise you. Psalm 71:5-6