A Smile Comes Before the Tears

Dan on rock

My brother Daniel passed on December 13, 2010. He had been my best friend, a mentor, a counselor, a staunch supporter of me. I thought I would never recover.

He was a long haul truck driver who read everything he could get his hands on. He was a philosopher for the masses, an opinionated and outspoken standard bearer for the underdog and under privileged. He recognized his own privilege and tried to avoid using it.

Nearly eight years later, the loss of him still grips me. But it is different.

Today I listened to Joe Biden eulogize Senator John McCain. In part of his speech he directly addressed the family and said:

“I promise you, the time will come that what’s going to happen is six months will go by and everybody is going to think, well, it’s passed. But you are going to ride by that field or smell that fragrance or see that flashing image. You are going to feel like you did the day you got the news. But you know you are going to make it. The image of your dad, your husband, your friend. It crosses your mind and a smile comes to your lips before a tear to your eye. That’s who you know. I promise you, I give you my word, I promise you, this I know. The day will come. That day will come.”

  I know his words to be true. I have lived them.

The first months were a blur. I could not listen to music that I knew Dan had liked. I could not pass a big rig on the road without seeing him in the cab. I could not pick up my phone without thinking he was the one calling.

And all of that brought tears and anger and that dreadful hole in my chest would consume me.

But one day, maybe a year or so after his death, I was passing a big rig on the freeway and I smiled. For a brief second I visualized Dan in that cab making a sandwich as he drove. (He claimed it was one of his great skills!)

And I smiled. And the tears were less. And the hole didn’t pull on my soul quite as hard.

My memories are clearer now. The love remains and is accepted. I no longer have to avoid the things and places that hold the pieces of Daniel. I cherish them.

He is gone and my heart will ache forever. But now, the smile comes before the tears.


Categories: Brothers, Daniel, Philosophy, UncategorizedTags: , , ,


  1. Yes, I know this bitter-sweet truth, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. so very very true…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. An outstanding piece of heartfelt writing, every word befittingly honest and soulful….. yes our grief slowly becomes our treasured memories…… xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A beautiful piece containing an excellent quotation

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I knew you would get it. I heard that, smiled and cried. The words were just perfect.


  6. The speech really touched me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I also lost a brother not quite two years ago. He was killed when an impaired driver crashed into his vehicle. The grief sometimes felt like it would consume me. It didn’t. I am getting past the anger and the tears and I do smile more often whenever his memory stirs me. This is poignant and beautifully written – a lovely tribute to your brother. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Every day our Past haunts us, our Present engulfs us, and our Future avoids us. Would you have it any other way?
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My brother died unexpectedly as well. A brain bleed. It was the worst day of my life. That is when I started writing/blogging. It helped.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, writing does help, and you are helping others through your beautiful words…I also lost a nephew to a brain aneurysm…sudden death is so hard on those left behind. I wish you many blessings of peace and comfort….


  11. Tender, touching and heartfelt, your words speak to those who have walked a similar path and those of us who are aware that in the shadows of our future, we will face the same thing. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. God bless you, writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you, my friend! (think I am getting used to that label!) 😉


  14. Thank you. But thank Mr. BIden. He went there first and is giving us a road map.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. And you shared the map….


  16. The death of a loved one is a terrible experience to go through, but what is life if we do not love? A sadder place indeed.


  17. Hi Gael, thank you very much for sharing your post at #seniorsalon. I shared it on my Share, Care & Inspire FB page and also RT.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you, Esme. I really appreciate all you are doing!


  19. I had to share your post. I have lost family members also but do know it gets better with time and only time.


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