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
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.
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.
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
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.
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. Even 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.
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!