I often get a note or email that starts off saying, “I never met your brother but what an amazing way your family is remembering him,” or “Thank you so much for creating HCC in your brother’s memory, I’m disappointed we will never get to meet him but I feel like I know him already by volunteering at HCC!” or one of my personal favorites, “I wish I had met your brother because someone who leaves this much of an impact had to be pretty cool!”
It is hard to believe that this August 14, 2022, my brother Mitch will celebrate his 18th year in heaven. I often think about what he does on these anniversaries: Are there big parties? Does he get to take a few quick glimpses down at me, or is he so busy in eternity that he doesn’t even know his anniversary came and went? What I do know now is that my brother ended up being the person who altered my life and gave me a new purpose and passion that hasn’t burned out in, now, 18 years. Creating a public charity with my parents and husband 18 years ago was not on my bucket list, not even close. Sure, of course I loved to help others and volunteered from time to time but making that my full-time job… probably not.
When a family member or close friend loses their life in an accident, not only is your world completely shattered, but it also changes immediately. No more silly voice messages from my brother, pretending to be someone else for me to listen to; no reason for me to call him asking about his day, his relationships, his friends; no more planning family vacations as we’d done for 23 years; no more birthday or Christmas presents to buy for him; no more yelling at him to put me down after picking me up with one of his famous, big bear hugs: everything just stops. For my family, we used those moments of void and silence to continue showing others Mitch’s heart the best way we could. We will never be exactly like the original, but we’ve committed to keep trying!
If you had told me even ten years ago that there would be multiple HCC locations where thousands of strangers would come to be fed, find comfort, have fun, make a new friend, offer a hug with the possibility of their entire life being completely changed, I would have laughed out loud. But that is my reality today. My reality is that I still miss my brother so much, that I cry as I write this tribute, but I know the work we’re leading in his memory was part of a master plan. A plan I am honored to play a role in and one I know Mitch would approve!
Love ya kid, I hope we’re making you proud!