Note: I wrote this a couple months ago.  I found this in some unfinished drafts.  Two days ago—November 4th—would’ve been my brother Ryan’s 31st birthday. He continues to periodically appear in my dreams. I hope he continues to do so.  I share this in his memory.


I have dreams. Not the world-changing eloquently spoken and proclaimed to change a nation kind. Actual dreams.

I have dreams. About a dead person. Specifically, my brother. I suppose over the past
7 years since his death I’ve dreamed of him over different periods of time. The dreams are not new. Months after his death I had a few genuine nightmares. They were very vivid dream versions of some events that did happen (and I witnessed) during his hospitalization after his transplant and before he died. Those weren’t good times.

Recently, I had a few more vivid and significant dreams. Both were again related to the months he spent in the hospital post-transplant. One was pretty awful and involved a lot of anxiety, worry, and ultimately, heartbreak, which is not so far from what really happened. The other dream explored a different outcome for my brother after his transplant. He was up and walking, doing physical therapy, moving around without oxygen and better than he had in years. He was walking down the hall and talking with people. This was a happy alternate ending to what is now history.

For a long time, I dreamed of my brother mostly in scenarios that were rooted in things that previously happened. As time goes on, more often he appears in whatever crazy, mash-up world my mind has concocted during the night. We’ve taken an intensive theology course, he’s been to Chicago, we’ve mountain biked again.

These are things he never got to do post-transplant and in real life. He didn’t even make it home.

I’ve had to make sense of these dreams. For some time, I didn’t’ know what to think of them. They partially creeped me out and they also continually dredged up a fresh and sometimes raw grief around my brother’s death. I also didn’t want to sound some sort of crazy when going on about these dreams.

At this point though, I don’t mind these dreams (minus the nightmare-like ones) and sometimes am even grateful for them. This side of eternity I have no more time left with my brother. But it seems he’s still alive in the world of my dreams and imagination. I don’t have any strong opinions on dreams, their origins, and if/what can be understood or concluded from them.

I do know that sometimes, at night when I’m asleep, I get a little more time with my brother. And for that, I am grateful.


Cordless Drills & Self-care


Yesterday I was putting together my closet. Well, that’s what I call it. It’s more of a free standing clothes rack with two bars for hanging clothes. I built it two apartments ago when my bedroom at the time had no clothes storage.
I was assembling it with a new-to-me cordless drill. Having only used it once before, I had no idea how long a battery charge lasts. It went fine for a little while. And then it started fading out. It would go for a bit and then wind down or come to a stop if it met extra resistance. At some point I decided the closet would be more easily assembled and I would be less frustrated if I charged the battery up a bit.

And in an aha-moment, I thought to myself, “Oh. Right. Ministry (and other caring-based professions) without self-care is like a cordless drill running on low battery: it’s just not going to go well.”
So don’t be like a drill without a charge.
And, it’s also not advisable to use a drill without a charge. That gets frustrating too.

Another July 3rd

July 3rd (and 4th), 2017

Dear Turdel,

I’m watching late night right now. It reminds me of our nighttime routine. I miss it. Well, I don’t miss all of it–I’m guessing you don’t either. That ‘food’ in your feedings was pretty gross. I can still imagine the smell. But alas, it helped you and that made it worth it. Ha, we can say we watched late night when Leno was still on (he’s no longer).

It’s been seven years. That day has been coming to mind the past few weeks. The memories are still very clear but it also feels like it has been a long time. I remember conversations we had that morning. I remember you laying in the bed. And I remember saying goodbye.

Turdel, I’m not feeling eloquent this year. Though this has become a bit of my tradition for this day. I have both so many things to say and no words to say it.

I feel that I’m still finding my way. It’s seven years since you died. Five years since I got a tattoo. Four years since I graduated seminary. Two years since ordination and finishing up my residency. I moved again–the fifth place I’ve lived in this city. I like this place. I hope that I can stay here for a good while. The cats–yes, there are two now–are also adjusting. Especially since graduating, I feel like I’m still finding my way, still searching for my niche. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever find it or if all we do here on this earth is search. Search for meaning, search for purpose and work, search for love whatever that looks like. Did you ever feel that, Turdel? The endless searching? I feel like I’ve been saying it for awhile but maybe this is the year. Maybe the pieces will all fit together this year. Jobs, apartments, cats–oh and the car finally kicked the bucket. Don’t worry, I have all the memories and the inside door handle. Settled is a thing I hope for but have yet to find.

The world is a crazy place. Sometimes I honestly wonder if you would recognize it from the world as you knew it in 2010. Suffice it to say those late night folks have lots of fodder for their humor. Maybe settled isn’t event possible right now.

I still wear my CFF bracelet. Well, probably the fourth or fifth one I’ve worn at this point. Mom managed to find one in the bottom of her drawer a couple of months ago. A reminder to breathe is never a bad thing. But it’s another connection to you and I literally almost always have it on.

The other day at work a little girl asked me about it. She was showing me her bracelets. Hers were more of a braided style with beads and charms. In a vulnerable yet straightforward way as only a young child can, she told me about how she wears her bracelets for her little brother who died. And then I told her about mine. I think she was a bit puzzled that there aren’t any pictures or beads. We connected and in a very meaningful way. It was one of those moments that reminds me why I do what I do.

Miss you. Hugs from Chicago.


One of my favorite pictures.  We’re taking a break from mountain biking in Whistler.  Likely 2005 or so.