On September 28, 2006, I lost my older brother Corby. He turned 25 just the day before. I was 22, and had just gotten married in July. His death completely shook my world. I was out of town, in Chicago, at a small group conference with my church. I was NEVER out of town. I am a major homebody. Even being with my husband, I was homesick. We were only there for one night, before I got the call from my Dad the next day. I knew something was wrong the second I heard his voice. He had trouble getting the words out, and I can remember literally yelling at him to tell me what was going on. When he said the words, I dropped the phone, and fell to the ground. I was surrounded by thousands of people, in this enormous church. But my world stood still.
The days to follow would be tough. A roller coaster of emotions as to be expected with grieving. A lot of anger. A lot of feelings of guilt. All the "whys". Why wasn't I home? Why didn't I call him on his birthday? Why didn't I answer the phone when he called just a couple days earlier? Why didn't I tell him that I loved him, that I forgave him for wrongdoings of the past?
Time went on and so did life. Naturally, it got easier. Then when my daughter was born in June of 2008, it got really hard again. Those initial feelings I had in the early stages resurfaced and I had some serious internal conflict. I was so mad that he wasn't there. He would never hold her. He would never hear her voice, her laugh. He would miss her first steps, her first day of school, and every other first. As she got older and started looking less like a tiny alien and more like a little person, I could see his face in hers. That's when it hit me. He wasn't missing anything. He was a part of her. Always had been and always would be. No, he wouldn't ever be here, on earth with her, and that still tears me apart. But he knows her and loves her just as much as if he had been here.
I wrote this poem about Audrey Corbin, my precious Ace, and her Uncle Corby. It was my way of comforting myself, and sort of fantasizing about a time when they were together.
My Daughter's Angel
He kissed her on the forehead
And he whispered in her ear
You go and meet your family now
And I'll be right up here
Then as God sent her from Heaven
He watched over from close by
And with the most amazing clouds
He wrote "I love you" in the sky
And although she cannot see him
She can find him in her dreams
Where they'll fly around together
On his perfect angel wings
Ace has always been a very intuitive toddler. A few months ago, she sat me and Joey down for "story time". She sat on a little chair in front of us, as we sat on the floor. She grabbed her little pink Bible, opened it up and said, "this is a story about Corby in the sky with Jesus". We were blown away. I put my head down to wipe the instantaneous tears, and threw a big smile on as I looked back up at her. I hadn't remembered ever telling her anything about Corby being with Jesus. I don't think I ever had. The older she gets, the more often she asks about him. She asks me things like, "when is Corby coming home". She tells me what she is going to do when he comes home. Build castles, play wrestle time.
This picture of Corby hangs in our house, right by the kitchen table. It has become a very important symbol in my life. It is what I created the logo for Corby's Castle, the non-profit I started after Corby passed away. It was taken on a family trip to Aruba. He was around 10 years old at the time. This is exactly how I like to remember Corby. Big brother. Protector. Hero. Best Friend.
Yes. It breaks my heart that my big brother will never be here on earth with my kids. And I dream of how things could have been. The same feelings have come back during our adoption process and especially now that Archie is home. Oh the fun he would have had with Ace and Archie. But Corby's life, while not an easy one, had a purpose. The quote I think of when remembering his life is one by Ralph Waldo Emerson. "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
Thanking God for my family a few extra times tonight.
Lots of Love!