It’s been nearly two years since colon cancer took my big brother, Brad, from this physical world. His tall, strong stature, wide grin, individualized style and charming charisma were an undeniable force. He had an uncanny knack for storytelling, entertaining friends, co-workers, families, and even strangers with laughter and a question or two of authenticity. He could turn a mundane tale into a story of grandeur with little effort. Brad was my only sibling, and while in our younger, school-age years, we practically existed on separate planes, we developed a deep loving, supportive friendship in our adult years. From grabbing a meal together, going for a run, or celebrating life’s milestones, we talked, laughed and sometimes argued through life’s twists and turns. Brad married his wife, Jenni, in 1991, and they had their twins, Harry and Jack, in November of 2004. It was may of 2012, when Brad’s life presented its most powerful punch, a tumor in his colon, found during a colonoscopy procedure. Brad was about to celebrate his 40th birthday. He was young, healthy, physically fit, and a dedicated vegetarian. He traveled this journey with an army of support form friends, co-workers, his family and cancer warriors that he met through blogs and support groups. He and Jenni aggressively advocated for themselves seeking new treatments and traveling to specialists around the country. Brad continued to exercise, work, write music and record a new album. He was an engaging, loving father to his boys getting them to activities and volunteering at their school. He was a loving husband brining silliness and laughter to his marriage for 25 years. He and Jenni were the best of friends. He was an amazing cook…much better than me…preparing healthy, creative meals for his family. He refused to be defeated…And while his mind and spirit took necessary reprieves from the fight, ultimately his body could not. In August of 2016, Brad and I traveled to Grand Rapids Michigan, for an appointment regarding a new drug trial. It was an anguished trip. On our drive home, we stopped in South Haven for dinner and a drive by the beach. My family and I were just in this location this past week. As I stood on the street corner across from the restaurant where Brad and I ate, I remembered, nearly two years ago, a brother and a sister exiting those doors walking with their arms around one another. An unforgettable connection of love in that moment and an unspeakable physical torture. My brother passed away just two weeks after that day. His vibrancy lives on in all those who loved him. He was one of a kind.
Carol Benson- O’Connor