I am always laying it out there

January 6, 2010

And I am always going to. Maybe my greatest strength (and weakness) is that I will always tell people how I feel about them. I want to live my life with as few regrets as possible. When my brother Todd passed away, it was the hardest day of my life. I had to tell both of my parents, individually, that their son had died. I have no idea how I did it to be honest. As we sat waiting for my father to come home, I remember my grandmother asking me how God could let it happen. I think my unprepared answer was perhaps the most true thing I have ever said. I told her that God did not kill Todd or even allow Todd to be killed (other than allowing Todd to have free will), that is not how God works. What the Lord had done, was enable the rest of us to come to grips with it by making sure that we all had the opportunity to smile when we thought about the last time we saw or talked to Todd.  Everyone in the family had a story similar to mine and all just as unlikely.

Two weeks before the accident, I was in Minneapolis and Chippewa Falls Wisconsin on business. I was just over 4 hours from Oshkosh and I had planned on driving over to visit. Kristen was just a few months old and I had not met my new niece. It was a long day and I was just too tired to make the drive. I got to my hotel and crashed on the bed. The Mariners were playing The Pilots (ok, Brewers) so it was on local TV. Early in the second inning, I realized my brother would be watching the game so I called him. We watched the game together on the phone for over two hours. Talking baseball of course but also about work, kids, wives…..life. It was the last time I talked to my brother. It was also the deepest and most meaningful conversation we maybe ever had. I thank the Lord every day for that day. What if I had not made that call? What if I lived with the regret of not making that 4 hour drive for the rest of my life?

So that is just never going to happen to me.

If you are important to me, I am going to tell you. If I love you you are going to know it.

I have said for years that I would rather be disappointed than worried. What that means is I expect good things to happen and people to do the right thing. I want to always be surprised when this is not what happens.

(Edit) or Postscript would actually be more accurate.

I thought I should fill in a bit about my relationship with Todd.  I was one year and 12 days older than my brother.  Those 12 days mattered a lot to both of us.  Mom wanted twins I guess, she always dressed us in matching outfits.  Every family picture and even the pictures of us at Knotts Berry Farm as kids had us in matching cowboy hats, shirts, jeans and six-shooters on the hip.  Until I was in the 9th grade, Todd and I always shared a bedroom.  We fought like cats and dogs all of time.   I think it was normal that we did not value the relationship we had.  We were very different people.  Todd was a sports freak and I was a reader and dreamer.  Even though I was older, when we fought, he always won until a certain day when I was in the 8th grade.  You see, I could not hit him in the face.  Todd did not have that problem with me.  So one day, we got into a fight in the house, Mom and Dad were gone and Al (older brother) told us to go out in the back yard to fight.  So we did, with Al as referee.  Anyway, Todd hit me in the face and something just snapped in me.  The next time he came at me I hit him hard and he flew back and landed on his back.  He got up and came at me two more times with the same result.  It was the last physical fight we ever had and our relationship got much better.  When Todd moved to Wisconsin, I really missed him, so when the Huskies made the 1991 Rose Bowl, Todd flew out to Seattle and we drove down to Pasadena together to go to the game with Scott, my best friend.  I looked forward to spending this time with my brother so much I could not wait for the trip….Poor Scott.  Todd and I fought the entire time.  It was so frustrating.  So when we got home, I was talking to Mom about it.  I told her how frustrated I was that even though we had not seen each other for so long, we could not seem to stop arguing about stupid stuff.  She said something that changed my relationship forever with my brother.  She said, “It is because you are so competitive”  I said, “we are not competitive at all!” and she said, “maybe you aren’t, but Todd always feels you have to be better than him”.  What she of course meant and was too nice to say is that I was VERY competitive and I was making Todd feel like crap.  Well, the message hit home hard and I decided, that day, I was never going to argue with my brother again.  Period.  No matter what I thought, Todd was going to be right every time.  There would be no argument to win because I would not start one.   This completely changed my relationship with Todd.  It turned out my pride was the poison and once removed, I do not think I can describe how much better our relationship was.  I never told Todd any of this.  I did not need to.

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2 Responses to “I am always laying it out there”

  1. Elaine Bultemeier Says:

    Craig,

    Please keep writing! I was just reading along and was not expecting your blog to conclude for the day!

    Elaine Bultemeyer

  2. Thomas Nash Says:

    Craig, you inspiring me to get of the fence. God is always Faithful it takes
    something unexpected to truly make us realize how Life is really fleeting.


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