Monday, July 7, 2008

Casey Leonard - The Music Will Live On

I met Casey when he was sixteen at a party by the lake in Augusta, Georgia. He's just got his tongue pierced, in spite of what his parents might have wanted. He was full of himself and his dreams of the future. Back then he played the drums. This was before he discovered the magic he could make with electronic music. He didn't talk to me much that day. It must have been strange for him to meet his big sister for the first time. I understood. I felt awkward in my attempts to relate to this cocky teenager who happened to be my baby brother.

What we lacked in communication he made up for that day by befriending his nephew, my son. He took him down by the water and escorted him out to a boat where more of my new family waited. Casey took care of him as Uncle Leo tooled around the water, pulling various bouncing kids on an inner tube.

We watched each other while we ate corn cooked on the grill. I'd catch him eyeing me over the rim of his cup. I'd smile and so would he. He had the biggest, most captivating smile I'd ever seen. I was in love and wanted nothing more than to protect him and keep him safe forever. I imagined what it might have been like to have grown up with him in my home, a baby brother to care for when I was fourteen, a toddler to dress up like my own personal doll. He'd have hated it. I would have loved it.

We met at this late date because of circumstances out of our control - difficult choices that led our father and my mother to give me up for adoption at birth. Back then Casey was only a twinkle in my father's eye.

Last summer, at the age of 27, my brother was in an ATV accident. He suffered severe brain injury from striking a tree head on without a helmet- most people don't survive injuries of this sort. My brother was not average. He didn't believe in counting the odds and predictable outcomes. Anyone who knew him can attest to that. If he was told he couldn't then by God he'd find a way.

And find a way he did. He clung to life with the fierceness of a warrior. In the hospital his IPOD continually played in the background. His hands moving to the beat, as if he were spinning in his favorite club. I'll never forget stroking his hand and telling him I'd understand if he was ready to leave me. He couldn't speak or even open his eyes but he squeezed my hand as hard as he was able. I took that to mean, "No, not yet."

My brother was ready on June 29th. In his time, in his own way he let go and went back to God. I'll miss him and the abundant life I'd imagined for his future. His wife who arrived at the funeral dressed in his clothes will miss him. His two young children will miss their daddy. My family will mourn for quite a while. His mother and my father will be lonely and lost without him to care for. I'm not sure yet how to let him go. I'm still working on that one. All I can say to him now, knowing how hard this past year has been, is, "Casey, I understand."

16 comments:

GUSTAVO said...

sorry abaut it

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful, heartfelt tribute, Lisa. May God give you, and all those who mourn Casey's loss, comfort and many good memories.
Love, Mom Mc

Davidlind said...

I was touched by your comments here about your brother. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.
In a short while it will be clear to us why these things happen. Because life is short although it can seem long. And the next life will be better.
And in less than one hundred years all that will be left of all of us here, our joys and our sorrows, will be the wind blowing the dust along the ground.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Gustavo,

Thanks for saying that.

Peace,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Mom Mc,

You know me about as well as anyone in this world. Thank you for the support you always give me when I need it.

Love you,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

David,

Thanks for your thoughts. I know Casey is at peace and that is a great comfort.

Best Wishes,
Lisa

Anna said...

Oh Lisa this is such a sad story, sorry to hear that, must have been terrible loss, I can only imagine and you had to go through it. Sorry again, Anna :)

Omyword! said...

I am so sorry. For everyone who knew and loved him. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Lynda Lehmann said...

Lisa, I am so sorry for this loss of yours, that really happened twice. It's even harder to let go of something you barely had.

My condolences. A poignant post.

Hugs and peace to you.

thewishfulwriter said...

Lisa,

I know you've heard the words "I'm so sorry" a number of times, but I am. I just read this post and my heart hurts for your family and for his family.

It doesn't at all surprise me to hear he was a fighter. Not if he shared your genes. I'm sure he was just as proud of you as you were and are of him.

You'll let him go when you are ready. You'll figure out how best to hold on to him without holding back. It's different for everyone.

I do think we share the same path in life. I met two of my half brothers when I was in college and experienced the same awkward emotions you described. We haven't grown quite as close as you and Casey were, but I am glad to know they are out there.

Big hugs and love -

Heather

Brenda said...

What I wonderful tribute! My condolences; it sounds like your brother was a unique individual. I'm glad the two of you had an opportunity to carve out a special bond ... after all it really isn't the length of our days, but the fullness of our lives that matters.

Lisa McMann said...

I'm so sorry, Lisa.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Lisa,

It's good to hear from you. I saw that you are going to NYC soon for a signing. It makes me feel good to know that you are doing so well with WAKE.

Hope all is happy. Hope to see you again soon,
Lisa

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Lisa,
With tears in my eyes, I read your story here and grieve for you. Please accpet my deepest sympathies for the loss of your brother, Casey. He sounds like he was truly a wonderful and inspirational man. -Mike.

lauriejh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lisa McGlaun said...

Laurie,

I'm glad you kept trying. It makes me feel good that so many people care.

Best Wishes,
Lisa