I am leaving later this week to attend my nephew's funeral. He was 24 years old. People in my family are looking to me to say a few positive words about his life.
How do you address a life cut short by self-destructive behavior? He was a troubled young man who had become increasingly irrational in the last couple of years. He visited us at Christmas and his ten day stay was aborted after two days. I was angry at him when we took him to the airport, 50 miles away. Thankfully, I spoke to him later when he called and apologized for his behavior. I accepted his apology but I was pretty cool when doing so.
As a young teen he excelled at motocross. I think that these were the happiest years of his life. He loved the thrill of riding his motor bike off impossibly high hills, jumping 20 to 25 feet in the air, before landing precariously on one wheel, while racing his fellow contestants down the course. His performances on the track in those days were inspired and so very different from his track record in recent years.
My sister is wracked with pain and guilt. His passing has changed her life and the lives of her husband and daughter forever. So, when she asked me to say a few words, I readily agreed. I could do no less. Now, I am looking for a way to memorialize him that will bring comfort to my baby sister and overlook his recent actions. I fear that this will be the hardest writing assignment of my life but I will do it lovingly, carefully and respectfully for the sake of my sis.