Doing the Heavy Lifting

Doing the Heavy Lifting

Death is never easy. The death of a parent even less so.

When my mother passed away in August, my focus was on logistics. I had to make arrangements to drive from Dothan, Alabama, to Miami (580 miles), stay at a hotel, and factor in picking up AND dropping off my kids along the way. My priorities were internal and as a natural problem solver, the overall task was not very hard.

All the details, however, regarding the viewing, memorial Mass, and burial were handled by my brother. As a function of him living in Miami, it made sense for him to grab those tasks by the reigns and manage them. What I didn’t anticipate, though, are the countless hours he’s spent in post-burial administration.

We decided to sell my mother’s house and property, and given my mother had established a trust, the specifics of that real estate deal needed to flow through the trust. As did the coordination of beneficiary payments for the few financial holdings my mother possessed. Long story short, it’s been a ton of paperwork, an avalanche of phone calls, and miles and miles of driving to and fro for my big bro.

It’s easy to sit here one state away (although given Florida’s length, it may as well be four states away) and respond to an email on occasion and perhaps field a phone call from an attorney. What is insanely difficult is balancing a full-time job, a household that includes a high-schooler and college student, and Miami traffic while trying to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s of this administrative endeavor.

It’s insane and unfair.

Yet through it all, my brother has not complained and has really stepped up to resolve all the issues along the way. He’s been so on top of this the only word that comes to mind is heroic.

My brother turned fifty this year and our relationship over the past decade was weakened by distance, complacency, and a lot of thick-headedness (mostly mine). However, my mom’s passing has brought us closer, and I feel blessed to feel the admiration I do for my brother. It motivates me to be better ands more intentional with the guy who was my best friend growing up.


God renews us with His love, and I am so glad he’s given us an opportunity to renew our relationship together. Thank you for all you’ve done. Thank you for all you do. And thank you for being my big brother. I love you.

A Year Later

Time flies. Tonight is one of those nights where I’m reminded of how brief our time is here on Earth. And for those we’ve known and lost, it’s sad to think at how they were called home to Heaven too soon.

[REPOSTED FROM 01/23/13]

After running some errands and grabbing a bite for dinner with Lee, I was poised to sit down and tackle some personal project work and check off an item on my ever growing to-do list. I checked my phone and saw I had a missed call from several hours earlier. Familiar area code but not someone in my contacts list.

I checked the message. It was from a high school friend of mine named Bethany. Two grade levels behind me, I graduated with her brother Paul. Through the background noise and what I then came to realize was her voice burdened by angst, the message was about my classmate. Her brother, at the age of forty, had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

Bethany’s call was out of courtesy. She didn’t want me to find out through Facebook. She wanted to tell me herself. Mind you, I haven’t seen either of them in over twenty years and, ironically, if not for Facebook, we’d most likely not have kept in touch at all. Yet through her pain and through her tears, she felt compelled to reach out to those with whom she knew her brother stayed in touch. A selfless act at a time when it’s completely allowed and understandable to be selfish.

My night was done. I was done. There was no getting anything productive done this evening.

At the news of his passing, I was instantly transported to the days when Paul and I would run six miles together for cross country practice, and he’d have me cracking up the whole way. Paul was larger than life, with a shit-eating grin and a natural wit and sense of humor most stand-up comedians would kill for. I can’t look back at the fun and great moments in high school without thinking of him. I’d usually get in trouble when we hung out, but it was always so much fun getting into trouble with Paul. He was one of the good guys. He was second to none. He was magnificently unique.

…and Paul will be missed terribly.

I ask you all keep Paul’s wife Dana and her two kids in your prayers. I also pray God send His Holy Spirit to the Ehrman family to provide strength and comfort in this time of tragic loss.

Tonight was a heartfelt reminder of how preciously short life truly is, about how we must embrace every moment, and how we must try to live so that we’re giving every moment back to God and His will for us here on Earth.

Rest in Peace, Paul. I know your smile it illuminating Heaven right now.

Paul Ehrman