Sweetest Sorrows

John & Caroline youngI am quietly processing the passing of my only and dearest brother, my only and dearest sibling. His name was John Cusack. I called him Johnny from the day he was born, July 2nd, 1947.

Since his passing on July 1st, I can barely keep up with daily life, let alone tend to business, pay bills, or think straight. He was and will always be my best friend… my baby brother for nearly seventy years.

My little brother was placed in my arms when I was three and a half years old. I remember the moment so clearly. Our bond never weakened, but only grew. We survived the dysfunction of our family… we always had each other’s backs. The love between Johnny and Caroline was an indestructible force that carried us both through marriages, divorces, cross-country moves, the death of both of our parents, and the birth of at least five grandchildren (so far).

We never fought. The presence of unconditional love was never a question, yet always a balm of comfort for us both. I once accidentally set his house on fire! His response was gentle and with a soft smile, “Oh Caroline… now look what you’ve done!” Shaking his head, he brought me a cup of coffee and we praised the neighbors for seeing the flames and calling the Fire Department.

I saw myself as the mean (or more accurately, ‘less-loving’) older sister, but I also led him into much popularity when I was Captain of the Cheerleaders at our boarding school in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He was a hunk of a linebacker on our football team, The Panthers. Johnny was the best brother a girl could ever have, bar none!

Hot burning tears drop on my computer keys as I write this. They also plopped into my oysters at a downtown Portland oyster bar when I got the text from his beloved wife that “Johnny has passed.”We immediately ordered the best bottle of Champagne, as Johnny would have insisted on, before we found our Uber ride back to the hospital. My sweetheart Will was with me at the hospital for several days in the soft and quiet hours of our farewell to Johnny.

John & Caroline olderI never imagined experiencing that my next of kin would look intently into my eyes and declare, “I am ready to die. Go get those damn doctors in here and unhook me from all this crap. I want to die.” My response… “Darlin’, I am heading down the hall to get this job done.” As I resolutely exited his room, his wife arrived and assisted me in the task of alerting the hospital staff. Shortly after, the ‘drip’ began and all life support was removed. For three days we stroked and touched him lovingly as his dearly devoted mate poured her love into him and crawled into his bed to hold his body close to her throughout the eerie hospital nights.

I witnessed the presence of his beautiful, loving son and countless friends who came to sit by his side. The soft murmur of “Om Mani Padme Hum” Mantra was chanted to invoke the benevolent blessings of the embodiment of compassion by members of the Tibetan Buddhist Dharma Center. This was a vigil… a death ritual as moving as any celebration of life I have ever witnessed. One cannot live without the other. Life and Death are siblings as are brother and sister. I’m inspired now to begin my study of Tibetan Buddhism from home at Dharma Ocean.

May your Life begin again and again each moment of each day, Caroline

Oregon is one of only four states that has passed legal legislation around Death with Dignity… the FREEDOM of terminally ill people to make their own end-of-life DECISIONS.

51 thoughts on “Sweetest Sorrows

    1. My Heart is with You Caroline . . . Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tribute that your Soulful words expressed for your Brother. Even though we know there is really no death just a continuation of life in another form/dimension, your human side must have space to grieve . . . please continue to drop everything to Allow the space for that whenever it shows up Darling.
      Sending you & your family my deepest sympathy & Love. Jai Bhagwan . . . Victory to the Light ! Tess (Teresa Brumfield).

  1. Love you Caroline, thank you for sharing the beauty that can be with death as well as birth. I feel your heart as you write this farwell to one of the great loves in your life.
    Love, Lindy James

  2. Caroline,
    My heart and spirit goes out to you in your loss. I can’t imagine losing my twin sister. (You have that same connection with your brother). I don’t think I could bear the sadness and sorrow.
    Love you so much, Camille

  3. Hello Caroline,
    I am so sad for you. It is painful to be left behind when one, that we love so deeply, passes. I experienced this with my own best friend, my brother, who was 370 days older than I am.
    I wish that I were there to listen to all of the sweet, wonderful, funny tales of him.
    For now, know that my heart is with you.

  4. Caroline,
    It is with a sad heart of hearing of your brother Johnny. He will still live in you forever.
    You know what I am talking about, I don’t know how to explain it.
    I am still trying to learn.

  5. Much love and admiration to you Caroline for leading the way in so many areas
    Love and blessings to you in your grief
    from Morgan in Australia

  6. Caroline. Thank you for sharing a part of your special love. It’s so hard to not have your brother physically here. Yet he’s always there at a moments notice with a memory that brings a smile. My heart is with you as you walk this time of sadness. Sending a hug to you.

  7. Holding you in your highest light, dearest Caroline and may you soon find your center again…..tearing myself while reading your lines as the fear of mum passing eventually….I also would want to hold her close and accompany her….ocean of love to you….

  8. Caroline, I see such purity of heart between and within you two in the photo. That never leaves, may it simply grow larger. Blessings to you as you mourn his passing and what a blessing to have been present for such LOVE. Goddess Bless, with tenderness . . . Rosalind

  9. Dear Caroline, Thank you for your beautiful sharing of the love and unbreakable bond between you and your brother. Wishing you and your family comfort and blessings during this time. Love, Judy

  10. Caroline ~ My thoughts are with you through this loss and letting go. I had the opportunity to know John just a bit, and I remember him as a delight. Blessings to you, sweet woman. He so clearly lives on in your heart and the hearts of many others.
    With love, Ala Shavana

  11. While we have never met, I have felt a connection through your writings. Sending you love and light during this time of loss for you as well as celebration of the beautiful relationship you had with your brother.

  12. Dear Caroline, I am crying as I read your beautiful, deep, loving, heartfelt words. Your relationship, the embrace you had for him, with him from the moment he came in to the moment he moved on, is so beautiful. You welcomed him into the journey we call life. A greater gift there is not. I admire your love, your loyalty, your friendship, the deep and easy way you included him in your life. As a sister myself of a younger brother with a very different journey, you have shown the highest and most fulfilling Way of journeying with a sibling. I shared a moment or two with John many years ago and saw that he was a different kind of man. He was strong, honest, fun and real…like his sister. You are a champion for including him in your life and heart the way you did. May the journey continue out of form as it did in form. Bless you both. You are an ultimate Wayshower. I cry with you from the deep beauty of your being.
    With sisterly love, Shoshana Love?

  13. Dearest Caroline, I am crying as I read this. Thinking of your sweet special love. I have a dear brother too so I can relate to this bond between brother and sister. I’m sorry for your loss and so happy to know you had this wonderful person in your life. Even though he has passed out of his body he has not left you and will be watching over you always until you meet again. He is surrounding you with so much love. Take good care of yourself as you mourn your loss. I send you love and hugs.

  14. Dear Caroline, such a beautiful tribute to your brother and the love you share. Asking the angels to wrap both of you in a healing chrysalis of Light and may they guide Johnny’s way into the heart of the Light. I know he’ll always live on in your heart and may the love of all who know you comfort you in this time of great sorrow. I so honor you for helping midwife his passage.
    Blessings and love,
    Evalena Rose

  15. Holding you in Love dear Caroline and sending you a warm embrace. Thank you for sharing so beautifully your grief and sorrow as well as the sacredness of the death process. I know it well and I’m so glad you could be with your dear brother for his passing. How blessed you are to have had such a beautiful relationship for all those years. He will never leave you. That is something to celebrate. It certainly is such “sweet sorrow”. So much Love and many blessings to you my dear sister. ?

  16. Dearest Carolyn, My heart goes out to you during this sad time of grief. Thank you for sharing the loss of your dear brother so we could send heart felt hugs and oceans of love to you and your heart. The pain of the loss of a close sibling is indescribable. May you find comfort in the memories you hold deep your heart. I am holding you in love and light during this delicate time. Take good care of you. Blessings and love to you Dear One.

  17. Sweet Caroline, What a beautiful honor for you to be present at this transition, passage for Johnny and feel the love and connection of community around. This too, is part of life. May you continue to be held in the soft embrace of life, recognizing he is not “gone” but rather has taken another form. May you allow your emotions to flow as this is a poignant, rich time. Many blessings, dear friend.

  18. My dearest girlfriend, this is such a beautiful tribute to your dear brother, who Bob and I will remember with such affection and appreciation. He was a very beautiful soul, and I am so grateful that in the end, his life was filled with real love. I will miss his wonderful ironic humor, his gentle presence, the twinkle in his eye – knowing it came from seeing more than most people do. I am sure he is flying through the pure realms having a very expanded time. Our hearts are with you, Celedra who has been such an incredible heroine of love in all of this, and his son Josh. Let us all remember that in the mystery of life – it is the love that we have given and the love that we have received that is eternal and never dies. Boundless love, Miranda and Bob xoxo ~ very sweet photos of you two, then and now ~

    1. Caroline, I am so sorry for you loss. (I still have to read the whole email…. I am running late and will read it all later, but read enough to get the gist. My birthday is also 2nd July, two years later than your brother. I am so sorry for your loss! How precious to have that connection with a sibling. It is a great blessing. May you feel held, and may he rest in love, peace and beauty.
      My love to you,


  19. Dear Caroline
    I wrap my arms around you and send you so much love. Thank you for sharing such beautiful words filled with so much love for your brother and your life journey together. May your new emerging beyond physical relationship with him be just as rich and tender and full of surprises, laughter and joy. Loving you dearest one. Gilly xox

  20. Dearest Sweet Loving Caroline,
    I wrap my arms and heart around you during this time. Sending you blessings of healing, nurturing, and feeling time….May you find continued peace and ease as your tears flow, and you remember and feel the strength of never ending connection with your brother. I love you, Dawn

  21. What a beautiful experience to have seen him come into this life and then return to spirit with all the love he had attracted throughout his lifetime. Love and blessings. Maya

  22. Lines, I am so touched by your words describing your deeply lyrical and visceral life with Johnny-the deep joy and piercing pain of your lives together. The unconditional love and the offering of eternal connection is so profoundly rare. I cried reading it. I felt you in your 2 a.m. vigil to be comforted yet I know you to to listen to its instruction. Sending you an email…

  23. Hi Caroline,
    We haven’t met because I am in Australia, if not for that then we certainly would have by now. I only purchased your latest book for my phone a couple of days ago.

    God bless you and may you look forward to a new and beautiful relationship with your brother from an even higher space… love Deanne

  24. Thanks to John for helping form the magnificent human being that you are. And lucky John for living his whole life wrapped in your love.

    As you grieve, may you be peaceful and at ease.

    –Earl Sacerdoti

  25. Aloha Caroline,

    It is terrible when someone that is very close to you suddenly leaves your life forever. My heart goes out to you you. I understand since my mother left her body last month. Be loving to yourself, accept, surrender and each day you will feel a little bit better…

    Take care, with love ♥ Madhav

  26. Dear Sweet Caroline aka Island Girl,
    Thank you for letting me meet Johnny. In our conversation he allowed me to know
    WHY you are the unconditional loving person you are. The both of you were the complete balance of sibling love. I know your heart will mend and willalways miss him. How blessed you have been to have him in your life and in your mind forever.
    When I see you with that Faraway look and smile I will know what you thinking of him.
    Your friend, Adela Adele

  27. Oh sweet beautiful Caroline, I am sending you so much love today, thank you for sharing. Until you and Johnny are together again, remember to take exquisite care of yourself. I am keeping you close in my thoughts and prayers.

  28. So sorry for your loss. Sending prayers up for you and your family.

    Take care,
    Barbara, New Jersey

  29. I am deeply touched by all of your condolences and comments. Reading them helps me touch into the deep grief and the ecstasy of feeling and releasing it. Thank you from my deepest heart… Caroline (and Johnnie)!

  30. Queenie, Johnny was and has always been a major part of my life’s memory cell bank since we met in Santa Cruz in the late 80’s. Time, location and life projections never supported our love to be together in house but he went on to love many times; he was a lover first and foremost. A good, caring man. I am in sorrow and mourning that I never saw him again since last year when I was in hospital in Portland. He came and took me out to lunch in my walker! This is too public for me. I only want to add to all these postings that he was beyond special. A great lover and friend, so caring, an unbelievable brother. Smart, funny but most importantly surrounded by fairies… one would have had to be there to understand this.

    1. Thank You Rebecca. I know of the love you two shared… it touches my heart to tears just thinking about it, as he shared how deep his love was for you many times. I miss you friend, Queenie

  31. Sending healing prayers and energy your way. I have read your book twice, and felt as if I knew you and johnny. I am so sorry for your loss.

  32. Caroline I am awed by your transparency. This is a moving and raw emotional experience and I can feel the love you have for Johnny which will always be your connection to him. Sending love and blessings to you, Linda

  33. Sweet Siater: my heart holds your tenderly in loss. As I am looking down the barrel of my own leave-taking, I promise I’ll look him up for you when on the other side. BIG HUGS

  34. Caroline…sending you much love as you make your way through each tender day…one day at a time. ~Lisa

  35. Such a beautiful open heart to share your grief and love of your brother, his passing and your lives together. May your new path of buddhist studies help you in your time and space with this heartache.

  36. Caroline, Thank you for sharing such a beautiful relationship and story of how you all honored his dying. Really moving and leaves me somehow hopeful. I am so sorry for your loss. Warmly, Kathryn

  37. my dearest beloved sister Caroline…..my heart is with you darling, so deeply I feel your love for Johnny!! I just learned of this, as my emails backed up so there was a delay….I am carrying you with me, and send you all my love and support…………..always, Sami

  38. Caroline what a beautiful relationship with your brother. We hold you in our arms and send love and comfort your way. Thank you for you beautiful sharing.

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