My brother-in-law Jack died this past Monday. I woke up one of the mornings this past week, needing to write about him. So here’s what spilled out on the page early that morning.

Jack Brooks was taken from us far too early. It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that Kevin and Jason won’t have their dad and his level-headed wisdom beside them as they move farther into their own adulthood. It isn’t fair that Nancy won’t have Jack by her side while walking into their golden year (many years in the future, of course). It isn’t fair.

But we all had Jack in our lives. And I guess that’s not fair to the rest of the world. Everybody should get to have a Jack.

Every one of us is a richer human for having had Jack Brooks in our lives.

Jack’s laugh was always at the ready, and as Jack’s mom says, the only way we can see his face in our memory is with that big brilliant smile he shared with everyone he knew. It’s a cliché, but it’s true that to know Jack Brooks was to love him.

A couple weeks ago, Jack was climbing around the roof of his nephew Ben’s house, (My husband’s son) shingling alongside brothers and nephews and friends.

Jack knew how to work hard and how to play hard, like the rest of the Brooks family– That crazy wonderful, fiercely loyal and loving Brooks family that Pete and Harv nurtured.

Pete and Harv, thank you for raising the kind of son who becomes a man like Jack.

And this week, incomprehensibly, we are putting him to rest.  

Nancy, Kevin, Jason, your lives and all of ours are going to have a giant empty hole that Jack leaves behind, but we all have Jack in our hearts—his laughter, love, gentleness, friendship, gentle ability to listen so you knew he was really hearing you, and his wise and level-headed responses.  And nothing, nobody, not even stupid death can take that Jack away from us.

We all know life is short, but this really is ridiculous.  I’m the same age as Jack. My knees are going bad, I wear trifocals, my memory is frayed around the edges… and my body’s not going to improve from here on out—But Jack is never going to have to get old and fall apart. Son of a gun.

Jack –for all of us– will truly be forever young.

Becky Avatar

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