Big Brother Lessons to Lil Sis

My birthday is only hours away and like other years, I just can’t get myself to be excited. This day has been hard for me most of my life but this year it’s hitting extra hard. With encouragement from by best friend, I am sitting down, embracing my support community, owning my feelings and sharing them out loud. This way I can let it out and be thankfully present for my birthday (Really, now that I am a mother all birthdays should go to them! Haha…. so happy birthday mom you really are my hero!) instead of feeling sorrowful and full of doubt.

One brother lost is a tragedy but three can be upright unbearable. I recently lost my big brother Joe in October and it hit me harder than I ever thought possible. After losing my big brother Rene in July of 2001, I thought I had hit rock bottom at the age of 12. With that and my big brother Francisco dying in December of 1979 before I was born, surely, I thought this had to be the worst of it, no more tragedy could happen to my family and me. I would lie awake at night thinking “why him and not me? If God was good, why would bad things happen to good people?” I never got an answer to those questions, but I continued to live my life surviving through struggles and pain: experienced joy, happiness and was living a life of satisfaction.

Now 15 years later, I am suddenly consumed with those thoughts again “Why him and not me? What have we done to deserve this? Is there really a reason to continue on?” So while laying awake thinking about what to say at my brother Joe’s funeral, thoughts began to flood my mind about all the lessons my big brothers have taught me. Quieting my mind, 3 main lessons emerged:

Time doesn’t define Impact:

Francisco may have not been in my life physically but he sure did have an impact on my life growing up and continues to do so everyday. He showed me that time isn’t an indicator of love. Time is just a unit of measure that allows us to find common ground in society. He encourages me to not only listen to my head but to my heart as well. Showing me that souls that come into your life for short periods of time do serve a purpose and impact you in meaningful ways. It’s because of him that I took the leap to get engaged only after 4 months of dating, found peace with my miscarriage, and engage in short conversations with strangers on a daily basis.

Know your worth:

Rene was my best friend and my mentor. He taught me the bad words to rap songs, how to walk on my hands, how to get away with mayhem and made me feel like the coolest person in the world. We got in trouble for fighting with each other yet would throw down when others fought with us. I was young and very impressionable when he died and yet had an ability to thrive through adversity (not without the typical teenage embarrassments and stupidities… none of us can escape that) . I didn’t realize it at the time, but I have him to thank for my unwavering self- confidence. It was because of his love, belief in me, and overall moxie that helped me realize how amazing I truly am. It’s because of him that I survived my first boy heartbreak, job loss, and other marginal failures that have happened and will continue to happen in life.

Be Kind:

Joe was the oldest of us five Sauer children and he took that very seriously. He was my giant teddy bear (he was 6’4” and a rugby player), my protector and heart! Honestly, he is one of the most fascinating, talented, genuine people I have ever come across. He was one of those people that would sicken you with their knowledge of… well EVERYTHING. He was the one people called when you needed something fixed; learn how to cook a tur-duck-en, or need to hack into your computer. He was basically a big brother to everyone he came across. Although, he probably took the loss of our other two brothers the hardest, he never let his sadness keep him from being kind to others. He would be the first to cook you dinner, shovel your driveway, and was always willing to help a stranger in need. He gave more than any other person I know. The only thing he really wanted in life was to insure others were happy… even if that meant sacrificing himself. It’s because of him that I know how to set up a website, cook a proper egg, build a deck and countless other trades. Most importantly it’s because of him I try to be kind. Be kind in my actions, my words and my thoughts.

Although these lessons don’t really answer my questions to why they were taken early and left me behind, I am choosing to continue to live life by their lessons. Hopefully, I can live the rest of the days as impactful as Francisco, worthy as Rene and kind hearted as Joe. My promise to you (my community) is to be a witness in your life, remind you of your worth and be here with open arms.

Thank you all for being a witness in my life, thank you for reading, for sharing… for being my support community.

-Lil Sis Sandy