my broAfter someone you love is gone, you rarely get the opportunity to talk about them anymore. You don’t want to make your friends feel awkward and frankly, after time, you just don’t have any new memories or stories to share. This is what I miss; John being a part of my life now. New people I meet, and the most important people in my life, such as my husband and kids, never had the privilege of knowing John. You can never fully describe that person’s life, presence, or impact in just a few stories or memories. Nevertheless, today I want to share with you just a little bit about the John I knew. My big brother.

As I look back, I think I embarrassed Pat and John pretty frequently, but not on purpose. For instance, I loved smelling gum in the checkout lines. I would put it right up to my nose and inhale deeply. John and Pat were pretty quick to get me to stop. I also would mispronounce words like the restaurant Fudruckers, and I would repeat it over and over, not knowing what I was saying was wrong.  John and Pat also said I was a horrible tattletale, and I hate to admit they were right, but older brothers can be brutal!:)

One of my most cherished memories of John and I together is when we moved from Wisconsin to Colorado. The move was really hard for all of us. That first night in our new house, we just had mattresses on the floor and John slept next to mine in my new room, so I didn’t feel so alone. Also, I remember one Christmas getting this big Lego type doll house and John put it together for me. He was good at stuff like that. He bought me a pink Barbie corvette from our neighbor friend for me for Christmas one year, and even cut out red stickers to put on the back of the car to make tail lights. My family once came to see me ride in Westernaires and John cheered for me from the bleachers. It’s amazing how the simplest acts of kindness can make such an impact on someone.

I also remember John’s strength. He didn’t play sports at Columbine, but he did lift weights. In fact, he could bench press more than many of the athletes at Columbine. One day he lifted me up with one arm above his head. John was also pretty shy, until you got to know him. He was an absolute goofball. We were alike in that respect. He liked a CD called the Turdy Point Buck, The Red Green Show and The Three Stooges. If you don’t know what those are, just think, “slapstick” and google them.

When he bought his truck, he gave us all rides in it. He had a list of all of the improvements he wanted to make to his Chevy truck. After he died, Chevy took his truck and did everything to his truck that he wanted to have done. They painted it, put in a wood bed, gave it huge lifted tires and a wench. John’s dream truck. His truck still sits in my parent’s garage and I hope it never leaves our family. We don’t take it out a lot because it gets about 10 miles to the gallon! The radio station was left on a country station; maybe that’s part of the reason I love country music so much now. In his truck he had a cross necklace hanging from the mirror. He had bought it from a beggar when we were on a mission’s trip in Mexico. The summer before he died my family went with our church to help spread the gospel and build a house for a family in Mexico. The trip had an impact on John and really opened up his eyes to the suffering and poverty in other places. I had that cross hanging in my car for years. John also kept a Bible in his car which my parents placed on the dashboard when his truck became a makeshift memorial.

John had aspirations to be in the special forces and he was extremely patriotic. I was shushed many times for talking during the openening credits of the show JAG. He was also interested in being a farmer or having his own car shop someday. His boss at work said John was the most mature sixteen year old he’d ever met. I have to agree. I still can’t beleive he was only sixteen, he seemed so much older.

I cry when I hear the song, “Who you’d be today”, by Kenny Chesney. Would he have joined the military? Would he have a family? Would he have given my husband a hard time when we were dating? I missed out on seeing his huge smile the day my babies were born. I wish so badly he could hold them and that they could call him uncle. I know though that someday, we will be reunited. He will be able to swing my kids around and put them on his shoulders. When I see him again, I think I’ll give him a huge bear hug


and not let go for a good long while. Then, he can tell me about what a tattle tale I was and I can tell him about how much I missed him. I’ll leave you with a Brad Paisley song, “When I get where I’m going”.

When I get where I’m going
On the far side of the sky
The first thing that I’m gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly

I’m gonna land beside a lion
And run my fingers through his mane
Or I might find out what it’s like
To ride a drop of rain

Yeah when I get where I’m going
There’ll be only happy tears
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years
And I’ll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear
Yeah when I get where I’m going
Don’t cry for me down here

I’m gonna walk with my grand daddy
And he’ll match me step for step
And I’ll tell him how I missed him
Every minute since he left
Then I’ll hug his neck

So much pain and so much darkness
In this world we stumble through
All these questions I can’t answer
So much work to do

But when I get where I’m going
And I see my maker’s face
I’ll stand forever in the light
Of his amazing grace
Yeah when I get where I’m going
There’ll be only happy tears
I will love and have no fear
When I get where I’m going
Yeah when I get where I’m going



3 thoughts on “John

  1. That is something I miss about my brother as well. I often wonder what kind of uncle he would be to my kids, how he would get along with my husband, what kind of relationship we would have had as we grew into adults. I wonder what type of husband and father he would be, what career path he might have chosen and if he would still be the proud owner of his precious 1965 Ford Mustang that my dad still drives every Sunday.

    This is beautiful, Ashley. Thank you for sharing your part of the story. It is powerful and very moving. It gives a voice to other siblings who have experienced a similar loss. I pray that as you reach out to others you will find peace and healing as well. Keep writing, sister! I know that I am hanging on your every word.

    Liked by 1 person

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