It’s tough to think about my last day with my brother Mike. It was two years ago today that he died.
Cancer is an insidious thing. It can take people who appear to be the picture of health and whittle them away to nothing. I’m trying hard not to think about those horrifying last hours.
But I’ve learned that it is in those toughest of times that you see people’s real character.
Mike was a lot of things. A great husband and father. A son to make any parent proud. A wonderful brother and friend. A superior athlete and accomplished trainer. A computer whiz who turned that into one heck of a livelihood. And his love of the mountains was contagious.
There are two ways I prefer to remember Mike. One was in his days of strength. Four months removed from blowing out his knee and breaking his ankle, he was literally jogging to the summit of Wheeler Peak, leaving me in his dust. That’s a 13,000-foot mountain, people. Big brother was always a little faster, a little stronger and a little smarter than the rest of us.
But the second way I like to remember Mike was in his humanity. He was always checking in with others, especially those who were struggling. He was as comfortable striking up a conversation with a homeless guy as he was with one of the gymrats at his local fitness center. He was a committed follower of Christ, and his love of God was paramount.
Two days before his death, he met with a friend and a minister. These two men knew him at his peak, but hadn’t seen him in his withered state. They were stunned. But even then, Mike had words of wisdom. And they’re now the words we remember most.
“Love God and love others,” he said. It left us all who were in the room a little speechless.
As meekly as those words came from his mouth, they resonate loud and clear today. It was his life statement.
I miss you, brother. We all do.