From a very young age, two of the most important men in my life were my grandpa and my brother. I never could have imagined that I’d lose them both within nine months, nor could I predict the profound effects the magnitude of those losses would have on my life.
My grandpa was my father figure and shepherd. I have endless memories of him— from splashing in the ocean together to shopping each Easter season for my Easter dress.
He was always there.
Every choir concert, musical, or school ceremony, I could easily find his face in the crowd. I always knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was proud of me.
My little brother was my shadow and my confidant. We shared secrets we never told anyone else. When we were little, he frequently indulged me by letting me dress him up in princess costumes. He was always eager to spend time with me even if that meant wearing a tiara. His laugh was contagious, and his smile lit up the room.
In 2010, my grandpa was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor. Coming to terms with the fact that he wouldn’t be in the crowd the way he always was, cheering me on as I graduated college, was crippling. I simply could not fathom that he’d never meet my future children. It was unimaginable that he would no longer be able to pass on his infinite wisdom to them.
It felt too heavy to carry.
In 2011, tragedy struck again with the unexpected loss of my 18-year-old brother. How could a world without his big smile and sense of humor ever make sense? I always thought if I had a son, my brother would teach him to play basketball alongside my husband. I pictured them watching football games together, getting Chinese takeout, spending far too much money on shoes, and snacking on Sour Patch Kids until their tongues were raw. I never foresaw a scenario where my brother wasn’t an integral part of my children’s lives.
Today, I am a mama to three rambunctious, beautiful boys. And when I look at each of their little faces, I understand fully why God gave me boys. Within each of them, I see pieces of the ones I lost.
When they smile, I see the same depth of love. All of them have my brother’s eyes. My oldest son has my grandpa’s tenacity and ingenuity. My middle son has my brother’s sweet, gentle temperament. And in my youngest, I see my brother’s curiosity about the world.
You see, love never dies.
It passes on—forward to the ones who come next.
Love carries on in the ones we raise. Although my boys never met my grandpa or my brother, all three boys embody parts of each of them. Because these men loved me first, I am able to pass that love on to my boys every single day.
When I lost the two most important men in my life, I felt lost—like a part of my joy was gone and I would never get it back. I smile, knowing now that God knew what I needed all along. While nothing can replace the people who have gone before, He can and does fill the void in profound and life-changing ways.
I now have the privilege of raising three of the next generation of men. Men who I hope will profoundly impact the lives of one another as well as their children and grandchildren—the way my grandpa and brother impacted mine.
And so, God gave me boys.