Caroline & JohnnyI am happy that you are Free… free of the life-long struggle to know Peace of mind and Peace in your soul.

Johnny, you are without a doubt the most precious man I have ever known. You have a very tender heart, as well as the incorrigible ability to always show up for me. I know you managed a lot of complex issues, but you never dumped them on me. You always were the consistent and lovable person I knew from early childhood. You were the template for “Brother” that I will always insist on if any other brother ever comes my way!

We could laugh… we could play… we could really see life and family with a sense of humor. I think that saved our souls.

Emotion rips through me as I attempt to write this message to you. Your last words to me, “Don’t Cry,” describe the Niagara Falls of tears that simply prove how much I have and have not listened to your wisdom over the nearly 70 years of our sibling relationship. Big Sister and Little Brother… we have traded roles so many times into Big Brother and Little Sister.

I always depended on your wisdom even when you doubted it yourself. You have never been a burden, but always a deep well of kindness and love where I could land and feel safe. I still feel that you are very near.

I hear you now stronger and louder than ever. I comb through the photos of our family life, our visits to one another, our crack-up funny birthday cards, Christmas Cards, and my annual Easter call to you reminding you to wear your cute little plaid vest, pictured somewhere in the archives when you were about five and we hunted for Easter Eggs at Indian Hills Country Club… then lovingly fighting over who got the most chocolate marshmallow ones.

We survived our mother’s illness, living with our grandfather during her hospitalization… meeting in the kitchen to fill our lost tummies with cans of Campbells Tomato Soup and Hormel Chili, followed by three-stack packages of Oreo cookies and milk. We were for one another the love we were seeking! Our childhood bonded us into beloveds with a money-back guarantee that we were always meant to be 100% there for one another. And we always were.

That has been our gift to one another… to be the love that our little souls would seek. To be the one most trusted friend in all the world. We are one another’s deepest connection to Source through each other. We always will be. And we could share such deep intimacies, especially when as adults we broke the ice and began talking about sex. That was a big taboo for two little Kansas kids, but it allowed us to acknowledge and gain respect for one another as whole adults, not just little kids pretending to be grown up.

I could always tease you!!! The green hand that appeared in the shadows of childhood story-telling followed us until death parted us. I remember telling you in the hospital to ‘look for the green hand… it would guide you home’. Some folks say look for the Light, but we had our own language and imagery, didn’t we my beloved brother?

I am so grateful to Celedra and her family for they held you in family love these past years, where your soul could rest and begin to let go to the wonders of love and support. I wished I could have done that for you, but I know you got exactly what you needed and so deserved, dearest One.

I am forever and always your Sister in this life and hopefully in all of our lives to come…. Or any combination of togetherness that we might choose… I will always be your

Carolyn…

Kernie …

Sister…

… and all of the nick names you had to live with!!!

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.