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Never to be Forgotten

It would be difficult to pay him a tribute that equaled his legacy, but as tributes go it came close.

People came in droves to his three wakes – lined up for blocks and waited over an hour to say a final farewell. The church was brimming to the rafters and at maximum capacity a full half hour before the ceremony began. When it was announced they would be naming the local high school’s new gymnasium the John Regan Memorial Gymnasium, 800 people erupted with applause.

We knew he was special, but it was a tad astonishing to see how widely cherished he was.

Over the last few days we have heard countless stories about how John touched peoples lives in ways they would never forget. Like his friends are too many to count, there are too many stories to relay. The common theme involved his quick smile and unfailing generosity.

Here’s one of mine.

Whenever I got home for a visit, we would go for a run together. When we turned a corner and were faced with a headwind, he would jump in front of me and tell me to follow closely behind him, he would act as my windshield. He always tried to make things easier for those around him, even if it meant things were tougher on him.

He always pulled more than his load.

It’s hard to believe this has happened, it is surreal. We have cried enough tears to sink a ship, but still they are coming, easily triggered by a story or a memory. We keep waiting for him to bust into the room, snapping his fingers like he did restlessly. So often he entered with a “Let’s go to….” or “Why don’t we… ” and we would be off, trailing after him, trying our best to keep up.

He walked quicker than anyone I knew.

If health was a viable commodity, I would have so gladly given him a lung, or an eye, or a limb. Or traded places with him. Everyone in his family would have. And in the days following his death, I met hundreds of people who would have gladly done the same. Strangers to me, these people also loved him like a brother.

He was easy to love.

Luckily, for all of us who knew him, he was generous with his love. I know a lot of people who casually cap the amount of friendships they have – they can only manage so many on top of family and work. Like his energy knew no bounds, it seemed, so did his friendships. In the last few days I have seen a lot of big, burly men shamelessly crying their eyes out at this unfathomable loss.

I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on the snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain.

He will be missed more than I can properly express. But the most amazing thing happened as his body failed him: his spirit continued to grow. His bravery, strength, love and humor grew stronger in the face of adversity. It grew through the roof and became bigger than the sky.

There were a lot of stars out last night, but it was easy to pinpoint the brightest one. And there he was.

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  1. Mel
    June 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Beautifully written for a beautiful and extraordinary human being. The world IS a better place because John was in it – even if his time here was shorter then it should have been. Dee – although intellectually I know this has been devastating, emotionally I know I can’t begin to comprehend it. Thank you for taking the time and the energy to write so beautifully about John over the past year or so. It has served as a consistent reminder to me of all that we can be, and all that life is. Sending you lots and lots of love. Mel

  2. jacqui hoganson
    June 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Deanna,

    My sincere condolences.

    I remember John’s big smile and the special relationship you two had. I can picture him tickling you in your backyard….lots of smiles and laughter.

    All my best to you and your family.

    Jac

  3. June 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Oh, Deanna, I can’t imagine your current pain–the enormity of this loss. I think about you often, wondering how you are getting by in the midst of this. You are in my heart as you struggle to ackowledge your brother in a deserving way, to ackownledge the enormity of his gift to you, your family, the world.

    I love your image of the starry sky–as you too are shining bright with your brother’s glow!

    Hugs,
    Kathy

  4. June 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Such a loss is overwhelming, but you are brilliantly celebrating your brother through writing. Keep celebrating him always.

  5. lucieloves
    June 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    An absolutely beautiful tribute Deanna. I will think of your John and my John and others who left too soon tonight under the stars. Thinking of you xox

  6. greg milner
    June 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    deanna , your story about john is beautiful. it has been a heart – wrenching time for his family and friends. I cannot speak of john without tears coming to my eyes. he was like a brother to me.I remember the words of john macleod at the reception..whatever team or event john joined it just became better when he arrived. I was a lucky man to be one of john’s friends. my thoughts are with all of john’s family and remember we were midst of greatness. greg

    • June 20, 2011 at 6:16 pm

      I know he thought the world of you, Greg. I loved your poem at the reception – so right on the mark.

  7. Deb Regan
    June 20, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Dee I am beyond sad, but I try and open my heart up and let your brother flood in, to help me…and he still is. He is still trying to help all of us, especially his children, Peter and Julia, who he was and is so proud of. When he passed away, I felt more strength and grace emanating from John than I think I had the privilege to witness. Lots of love Deb

    Thank you for sharing yourself Dee, it has helped me.

    • June 20, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      Oh Deb – we were as bedazzled by your strength as by John’s grace. Know that we are with you as you tread this new ground of horrifying loss, far too early in your life.

  8. June 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Thank you, Deanna, for sharing John’s story with us…hopefully, the writing will help you heal somewhat…

    Wendy

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