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Saying Goodbye For Now

We experienced a tragedy recently that has left the family constellation missing one shining star: my husband’s brother, Bill.

Like only a very special person can do, Bill could light up a room with his smile and make you feel glad just to have him around. Being skilled in repairing and building so many things, he brought an expertise to every facet of his world. Anyone who knew him can tell you that he was always willing and capable of lending a helping hand.

Always true to his family, he was there whenever we needed anything. He was good for a laugh and there was never a holiday that his nieces and nephews couldn’t rely on him to help them play with their new gifts, or install batteries.

He loved his son fiercely and went above and beyond to instill in him a strong sense of hard work and self-reliance. He showed his son how to be a proud Aulenbacher and help others. We see so much of Bill’s wonderful qualities in Alex, that it is a balm in this new chapter of our lives.

I came on the Aulenbacher scene shortly after he had married his bride. He gave her two decades of love that was obvious in all the selfies they took together. Marlene is a fun-loving sister-in-law and my heart breaks for her. She is a strong woman and very creative. He clearly saw that creativity in her and encouraged her to channel that into the wonderful crafts and scrapbooks she makes.

Stories abound from my dear husband and wonderful pictures remain, conjuring memories that will never be forgotten. He never turned you away if you needed his help and he always made you feel that everything was going to be alright, no matter what.

I’ve only been around Aulenbachers for twenty years now, but one thing I have known from the start is that they are a very rare and special breed. They have a power about them and not just physically. The sky is a little darker without Bill in our universe. We feel a bit lost without his smile to brighten up the room.

But that special power he had is still here.

His family is still here, brimming with memories and stories. The things he created are still here, a symbol of his talents and skills. The people he touched throughout his life are here, continually reminding us in our pain that they recognized how special he was and treasured their times with him.

And, in one final heroic act, he became an organ donor and was able to pour out a blessing to other families in America who had been desperately waiting for a miracle. As hard as it was to watch the blue lights at the hospital glow in the night sky, it was a signal to all that Bill was helping others to survive, even while he could not.

As hard as it is to say goodbye, knowing part of him is out in the world somewhere makes me a tiny bit happier. Someone gets to live today and carry him with them. And I know that those who received organs will treasure the possibility of life they bring. I know they will work hard to keep him safe with them and make the most of every day they get.

So, it hurts knowing there will never be another family picnic together. It hurts knowing I will never hear his voice again. It hurts knowing that I will always think of him when I pick up an orange soda. Christmas won’t be the same without him. We will all have that loss of closure in never getting one more chat with him, one more laugh together. One more hug.

But as abrupt as his departure was, he would not want us to hide in this dark sky forever. And, although we will always have sad moments and will never forget him, we will have to move through this season and into a new phase of life:

A phase where we all shine a little brighter to keep Bill’s light going in our family constellation. We need to move through our grief to a place where we can do things he would be proud of, help people he would have helped, enjoyed things he would have looked forward to.

There are strangers out there in the world now who have a small piece of him inside of them, keeping them alive. We can work to honor his memory in small ways to keep precious pieces of him alive in us as well.

It doesn’t make sense and it’s not fair, but God needed you and you answered His call. Tears flow as we hug each other, knowing we would give anything to be hugging you one more time. You were an awesome person. God could have sent you to any other family on Earth, but He wanted you in the Aulenbacher family for a very special reason.

As hard as it is to let you go, we will always be proud to know that you were ours.

Yes, our constellation has a star missing, that is for sure. But our universe has gained a new comet. And as I think about it, although comets do not display their beautiful light forever, once they are gone from view, they continue on in their path. Once a comet gets back to the sun, it is sent out again to repeat its orbit.

I want to think of Bill that way.

Once he lit up our world with his brilliance Then, he returned to The Son and was sent out again on a new journey into the heavens.

Shine on, Bill.

We will see you again soon.

The just, though they die early, shall be at rest.

For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years.

Rather, understanding is the hoary crown, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age.

~The Book Of Wisdom, Chapter 4

Bill's obit can be found here - if you knew him, please consider leaving a word of support for his family at the link. Thank you.

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