Dear my beloved readers, I’ve received  several requests to post the tribute I wrote for my amazing and much-loved brother and read during his memorial on Sunday, May 4th, 2014. Some of the material is new and some are excerpts from earlier posts. As always, thank you for reading. 


Rocky, a son, a husband, a father, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, an uncle, and a friend—he played these roles in his short 43 years with us, but he was more than the roles assigned to him; he was a human being who lived his life with abandon. He didn’t skip around a fire, he danced in the flames, until he became one, lighting up this world with the spark and heat of his impassioned heart.


While many of us are comforted by curling inside a bubble of security where we have stable, steady jobs, in stable steady neighborhoods with stable, steady friends, that bubble was too thin, too small, too confining for Rocky. With a boundless spirit that stretched from one side of the world to the other, the universe was not too vast or frightening or risky, it was his playground. At nine months old, already tired of the slow pace of a crawl, he took his first step, ready and alert to begin his walk, then his run, and then his flight through his miraculous life

house inside a bubble.

At two-years old, he waddled around, kicking a soccer ball with his baby feet.NEW picture of toddler kicking the ball

Photo by Candy Hoehn and used with permission: http://www.sugashocphotography.com  

In high school, with agility and grace, he ran across the field, the ball an extension of his foot.  By the time he hit college, he soared across the field with Pegasus etched into his thigh with his dreadlocks flying behind him. I loved that tattoo, which has taken on a greater meaning for his life since his death.

Image Rocky embodied Pegasus’ spirit–the mythical immortal winged stallion, capable of everything, and symbolized the divine inspiration or the journey to heaven, since riding him was synonymous to “flying” to the heavens. Pegasus was represented as a good-hearted, gentle creature, always eager to help. According to legend, everywhere the winged horse struck his hoof to the earth, an inspiring spring burst forth. (http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/pegasus-winged-horse/)  This was my brother. Every life he touched, he inspired growth, inspired us to reach higher, to think bigger. People around the world left messages on his Facebook page of how he was a teacher, a mentor, an agent of change, earning him the award: The Most Influential Spa Leader in Asia.

purchased pegasus When he left the states to work on cruise ships and then accepted a position in Bali, Indonesia at the Four Seasons Resorts, we couldn’t begin to understand how he could live so far from his family. But that was who he was—a free-spirited winged creature that needed the space to roam, to explore, and to share those experiences with others.

 He rode  Camels in Egypt


   Elephants in Thailand

Imageand scooters in Bali.


 Through Rocky, he expanded the lives of so many. He expanded mine. If it were not for my brother, I never would have felt the Indian Ocean on my skin or run breathless into those waves.


I never would have eaten sticky rice and grilled fresh fish under a smoke-filled sky on the Balinese beach.Image

or squinted at the blinking lights and neon signs during the Night Market in Hong Kong.Image

And I never would have known how one small child, his daughter’s arms around my neck, could bring sparks of joy when he was no longer with us. ImageEven after his death, he brought my brother and me on one last adventure to say goodbye to him, to spread his ashes in the Indian Ocean where they glinted under the Balinese sun…where he would be freer still to explore the next dimension without any constraints at all.Lotus

Maybe there were times when friends and family didn’t understand Rocky’s decisions, but here’s the truth: Rocky was not imprisoned by what he should do, who he should be. He did not follow another person’s creed of how or where he should spend his time in this world. Time belongs to us while we have a heart that beats. Rocky had courage: the courage to live, the courage to cry, the courage to love, and the courage to follow the calling of his own heart. People were drawn to his untethered spirit, his charismatic energy, his smile that could light up a midnight sky and a hug that could melt a glacier.

On Facebook, my brother wrote, “For anything new to begin, something has to end……this is the journey of life….and I love every minute of it!” In a blog post, I asked him: What “new” will begin, my brother, now that your life has ended? What miracles will occur in the space you’ve left behind? I will watch for them. I will wait for them. I will shine my light on the countless blessings you’ve brought to my life,  not on the dark grief of your absence. I will accept the lessons you’ve taught me. I will dance with you in the flames. And I will invite others to join us there, too. The greatest gift we can give to this unique soul who touched so many is to live fully. Know your passion, the calling of your soul and follow it. Dance in the flames. Even if you get burned, at least you will have lived.

We love you Rocky…we love you with abandon  

Note to my readers: Thank you for giving me the space and time to write my way through the early stages of grief. I can only hope that sharing my experience has helped (in some small way) those of you who know that depth of loss. Grief is universal as is joy. We share both.  Perhaps now I’ll be able to write about the miracles my brother has helped me to see. Thank you, too, for each and every time you take a  moment to write a comment. I want to hear your thoughts, insights and personal experiences. It’s the comments that help us all to remember we are never alone in our experiences. We are here to help each other through this miraculous journey we’re all on together.  With love and gratitude, Susan

ps. Very soon, I’ll be introducing you all to three of my favorite bloggers. Stay tuned!

41 thoughts on “A FINAL TRIBUTE

  1. Beautiful tribute…and as always your writing is so lovely and so heartfelt. I know this has not been an easy time and I hope knowing Rocky is all around you helps.

    1. Mary,
      Thank you always for you comments. I look forward to them…you’ve supported my work since the day we met and you’ll never know how much it has meant to me. Thank you and I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

      1. Susan, You are a gifted thinker, writer, and the gift of true love pours out of your spirit. It isn’t easy to dance in the flames, but we look around and see many who want to dance with us. We are never alone. Rosemary (your other mother)

      2. My second Mom…thank you for reading and for loving me. You are such a loving and gentle soul. Let’s dance Rosemary:-) All my love, xo

  2. Reading this was absolutely breathtaking. What a man he was, and what an impact he had on this world! Rocky seems to me to be one of those brilliant stars that stick out of the sky more than the others- radiating a brightness that illuminates the universe with even greater light than the others. On fire.. dancing. No boundaries or inhibitions to limit his flames. The brightest star in the galaxy…light years away and burned out now- still glows never-ending, everywhere.

    1. Christine,
      You could have written his tribute!! I LOVE this part…”Rocky seems to me to be one of those brilliant stars that stick out of the sky more than the others- radiating a brightness that illuminates the universe with even greater light than the others.” He is one of the stars…he truly truly is…I feel like he’s up in the heavens saying to all of us, “GO FOR IT! what are you waiting for.” I think I’m going to take his advice! Thank you for your gorgeous comment!

  3. This of course lends new and great depth to the meaning of “Claim Your Strengths”… it is true that both Rocky and you have done that. Who knew back then what that really means….Sending much love always….

    1. Esta, he did claim his strengths, didn’t he…you and I must have a phone date VERY soon. How I miss the sound of your voice and the conversations we’ve had about this very thing…Claiming Our Strengths! Love you!!

  4. Your words came to life and made me feel as though I knew Rocky and his bright light in this world. I want to dance in the flames as he did and live life to the fullest. I do believe that in your grief, you and he are bringing souls whose light has dimmed back to life and light.

    1. Hi Little Miss Wordy…thanks for your comment. Yes…I want to dance in the flames, too and I do want everyone to join us there!

      I always feel so honored when you read my posts…given what a ROCK STAR you are…IF ONLY I could figure out why I can never leave a comment on your blog. AND Congratulations for being selected for the 2014 BlogHer VOTY. AWESOME!!

      Everyone must visit her blog…the writing is stunning!!

      1. Thanks, but I’m no Rock Star. Just doing what I love and sharing it with the world one word at a time. 😉 It’s comments like yours that make me feel like a rock star and I appreciate them all which is why ever since the first time you mentioned your problem commenting I’ve been trying to figure it out. When you try to comment what happens? Are you getting a message? Are you able to comment on other blogs on WordPress? Trying to see if I can get some help. I’ve checked my Spam folder and it’s not going in there.

      2. Well…in my book, you are a Rock Star…

        Comments so what happens…I write the comment, I sign into WordPress and then it disappears. I’ll head over there now and do a test. I just did a test…and again, it says I’m submitting and then never shows up in your comments. I get this: Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Do I need to write this in the comments for approval? I would LOVE to figure it out.

      3. Thanks for hanging in there with this comment issue. I had cleaned out the spam folder this morning after searching for comments from you and not finding them. So…I went in there again this afternoon and found your most recent one! Hope that settles it! 🙂

      4. I “approved” your comment so it would exit the spam folder. Hopefully that means your comments will just automatically show up like they’re supposed to going forward.

  5. Very well written and expressed Suzie! I believe your brother’s purpose in life and in death was to help everyone who knew him learn to fly like Pegasus and reach their own potential so that they too will one day….reach the stars on pegasus’ s back…..screeching to a halt yelling, “Woo Hoo! What a ride!!”
    🙂 love you!

    1. Thanks, Eve…yes…I think since his death, he’s reaching so many more people with that untethered sprit of his. I know he’s pushing me to stretch and really ask myself…”what is it I’d like to do next!” WOO HOO what a ride, indeed. Love you!

    1. Thanks, Aunt Phyllis…but I feel like I am and was the lucky one. You were all with us in spirit at the memorial. It was such a blessing to spend time with my cousins, aunts and uncles and really hope we can plan a family reunion. It would be so awesome to see you! xo

  6. Such a beautiful and poetic tribute, Susan.

    “He didn’t skip around a fire, he danced in the flames, until he became one, lighting up this world with the spark and heat of his impassioned heart.”

    I feel like I KNOW Rocky after reading all you’ve written about him here and in other posts. You’ve got such a gift for bringing him to life. Have you considered writing more about his life? Maybe a memoir?

    I wish I’d known him personally, he was an amazing soul seen through your eyes. But he’s still here, in everything you write, in your family, in his wife and daughter. He lives. Thank you for showing us the light in the darkness that Rocky was and is.

    Hugs. xoxo

    1. Thanks, Kelly! I loved your post today, too. Read it here, people: http://www.authorkellybyrne.com/2014/05/mother-too-and-heres-why-i-suck/

      AND Yes, I do have an idea for a new book: Mining for Joy in the Deep River of Grief. I want to interview people who have sustained significant losses and pepper excerpts throughout the book that show where people noticed the miracles and blessings left behind from their loved one’s passing. A gentle shifting of where we shine our light.

      Thank you for your words…it was my hope that my tribute brought my brother’s spirit to “light” and “life.”

      Love you soul-sister! xoxoxox

      1. Thanks for sharing my post, again and always. You’re so very generous. 🙂

        And I look forward to the book. It sounds wonderful.

        You absolutely did bring his spirit to light and life.

        Hugs xoxo

      2. Hey, I’m your fan friend…I’ll just keep sharing! and I’ll do my part on the blogging tour in the next couple of weeks.xoxoxo

  7. ***For anything new to begin, something has to end……this is the journey of life….and I love every minute of it!” ***

    Casey, you continually take my breath away with your flowing , gorgeous, heartbreaking, joyful posts about Rocky.

    Can I tell you something? And this is the whole truth.

    Rocky is riding elephants and experiencing adventures in Paradise this very moment. I’m pretty sure he has met beautiful Kay by now, too.

    I love this blog. I love you. Your words. Your insight. Your positivity. & mostly, your HOPE))


    1. Well, Kim, I LOVE you and your blog and your words!! Did you get my email I sent about my invitation to you? I thought maybe it got lost in your in-box. Let me know and I’ll resend. And yes…they’ve met and they’re riding those elephants and camels and clouds…you know it, sister…they are…
      xoxoxox Here’s to hope and eternal love and riding animals in the clouds!

  8. I have tears in my eyes. Every time I start to feel small, start to feel fearful and start to retreat, Rocky reminds me what life is really about. Susan, Rocky has been a lifeline as I navigate my own uncharted waters. Thank you for keeping his spirit alive. You both carry a very important message for us all. Love you!

  9. “… I will accept the lessons you’ve taught me. I will dance with you in the flames. And I will invite others to join us there, too. The greatest gift we can give to this unique soul who touched so many is to live fully. Know your passion, the calling of your soul and follow it. Dance in the flames. Even if you get burned, at least you will have lived…”

    I am reminded of what Ram Dass said: “We are here to walk one another home.” Dancing and playing or strolling and contemplating… Each one of us, as a unique star, get to play together and create the magic known as The Universe….

    Peace, Love and Laughter always, Susan!! xoxox

  10. “Every life he touched, he inspired growth, inspired us to reach higher, to think bigger.”
    I never had the pleasure of meeting your brother, but through you, I have. For me, through our connection and through these posts, YOU have inspired growth in me, inspired me to reach higher, to think bigger.

    From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear friend. Sending you a really big hug.

    1. Yvon, I love you for so many reasons…thank you for this…this is my only hope to take Rocky’s message out to the world…the message that “life is so short…so have the courage and live your life the way it was meant to be lived…with abandon!” Thanks for reading dear one!

  11. You’re words are just so beautiful!! You are so very lucky to have had him in your life just as he was so very lucky to have had you in his life. You have had such strength and courage through this very painful journey, my friend…..thank you for sharing your insights so that we can all think about how we can live life with abandon. I love you! xoxo

    1. Tracy…I love you! Yes…I was LUCKY and yes…we must live our life with abandon…even when we are afraid to take that next bold move in our lives…you my dear friend are shining example of taking bold courageous steps…even though there is fear, you’re doing it anyway. You always inspire me. Always! xoxoxox

  12. Susan, an incredibly moving and heartfelt piece. Thank you for sharing Rocky with us. Sharon and Bob

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  14. Hi Susan,

    I would have liked to have met Rocky. He IS a blueprint and testament to what is to come for us as we discover our True Selves more and more, and have the courage to raise our vibrational levels higher and higher.

    Pegasus tattoo. That said it all for me. Pegasus tattoo. I had a profound experience in Montréal and one of the many spiritual revelations I had is the following:

    “I see a winged stallion metaphorically, proud, free, powerful, bearing the eagerness of seed, with wings spread wide where all feathers visible in minute detail soaring amongst few clouds lined with silver moonlight. The moon is full and shiningvast possibilities for the stallion. The stallion is going full tilt with nostrils flaring and every muscle moves in organic symphony. I see this not in my minds eye but feel every undulation of the winged stallion and the cold crisp oxygenated air flowing throughout every fiber of being. It comes from within the void. Through its eagerness of seed there is a wholesome completeness and harmony with the sacred feminine that is a bit of a sheath thatdoesnt restrain but comforts and accentuates and amplifies the output of energetic”.

    This was in response to another person’s vision of a Pegasus cloud. She was relaying what is to come with the roles of the Sacred Masculine and the Sacred Feminine.

    With Gratitude,

    1. Peter, I have chills reading your revelation about the winged stallion…chills..all over! Did you write about this? Please chronicle your revelations to share with others!
      With gratitude always, Susan

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