I've never faced true tragedy in my life, until the call came from my mom telling me my brother and his wife were killed in an instant. They were out for early evening ride on his motorcycle when a woman fell asleep at the wheel, blew threw a stop sign of an intersection, and hit them head on. Your life changes forever. However, it's not about me. It's about my niece and nephew who just lost both parents in the blink of an eye. It's about my mom who lost her son and my father, a proud former Marine, who just lost the boy who followed in his footsteps and also became a Marine. My role in this disaster becomes caretaker for my family. I need to do whatever I can to take the burden off them so they can mourn properly...
I call my buddy Billy Donnelly from Donohue Funeral Home. He's shocked as he knew Michael from growing up. By the time I hung up the phone, I had already felt the burden lift off my shoulders. We arranged to meet at his office on West Chester Pike. It's a beautiful building that certainly doesn't feel like a funeral home. My parents and I sat down with him to discuss the services. He's such a professional. He has a way to transform tragedy into celebration. We were all of sudden planning to honor a great man and woman, not to say good-bye forever.
Think about everything that needs to be done to honor a great person at a funeral service. Now, double it and add in the fact that his all happened 700 miles away in Ft. Wayne, IN. Michael was also a Gulf War Veteran and my father's primary goal was to honor his son with a proper military service. Finally, my oldest sister and brother-in-law, who also live in Ft. Wayne, would now become legal guardians for my brother's kids. So, we wanted to have my brother and sister-in-law cremated and have their ashes in 2 separate Urns. One Urn would be buried here in Delaware County and the other would be brought back to Indiana for the kids to have one day.
That is an enormous amount of responsibility. Billy planned and executed flawlessly. The transportation of my brother and sister-in-law from Indiana to Pennsylvania, cremation, double viewing at Donohue Funeral Home, Mass at St. Max in West Chester, burial, headstones, 2 Urns, and finally, the Marine Corps military honors. It was all so classy and beautiful. It truly was a celebration of their lives.
I did not think I could properly mourn losing my big brother. Billy and his team at Donohue gave me the peace of mind to do so.