My uncle Barry (Alfred N. Brown Jr.) passed away a few weeks ago after a nasty battle with cancer. Above is my last picture of him, with my son Julian, taken a few weeks prior. I knew he was nearing the end when, after I took that picture, he said, “Max, I wish we could have gotten to know one another better.” Those were his last words to me.
I attended his memorial service yesterday. I read aloud goodbye letters from my mom (Barry’s sister) and brother, who were far away in other countries and unable to attend. I also said my own goodbye:
Despite periodic interactions, you always were a close and loyal friend. I always liked you because you were warm and considerate, and made people feel good about themselves. Most of all, I admired you because you acknowledged you weren’t perfect. And you made peace with that fact. You learned to let things go and forgive, so you and others could move on and be productive and happy. You got better with age. That’s a distinction of character and growth, and something I hope to become better at. We’ll miss you.
While Barry’s moved on from his suffering, his spirit lives on. Moreover, we’re fortunate to have his wife Gina and stepchildren, Ella Mae and Tristan, live on as part of our family.