Life Can Change in an Instant

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As a person ages, there are expected changes in life when it comes to a family unit.  It’s the unexpected that happen in an instant that rock you to your core.  Last summer, I lost the first of my siblings, one of my older brothers, Alan.  A few weeks ago, I lost my youngest brother so unexpectedly and tragically, I still can’t quite wrap my brain around it.

Since it made national news a few weeks ago, some of you may remember seeing or reading that there was an avalanche at Lake Tahoe, at the site of where the winter olympics were once held.   My youngest brother, Ken, was killed in that avalanche.  It was opening day for the slope and Ken was so excited that he was one of the first to head down the mountain.  He hadn’t gone far when the avalanche happened.  It’s too painful to imagine such a tragic death, so I want to remember how he lived.

I was five when Ken was born and I still remember the day he and our mom came home from the hospital.  He had a full head of hair and was wrapped in a beautiful white blanket.  He was an energetic and happy child as he grew, and very independent.  If anyone attempted to help him with any little thing, his response was always, “I can do it with myself!”  Kenny (as we called him as a child) never lost that independence or his sense of adventure.  I could tell you so many of his adventures and accomplishments, but it would be endless pages for you to read.  Just know that he was highly successful, married the love of his life, and they both had recently retired and were ready to travel and find new and exciting adventures.

What will always be in my mind and heart is how we shared a deep love for our mom.  Some of our best memories of growing up involved mom’s nurturing nature, especially in the kitchen.  After mom died at age ninety-seven, Ken would call me on the anniversaries of her birthday and tell me what meal he prepared from her recipes in her memory.  I do the same thing and we would share what we had made.  Ken would also call me many times over the years asking for recipes that he remembered and loved.

That is an example of why it is so painful to lose a sibling.  The loss of a sibling means that it is a loss of someone who knows your past, has the same childhood memories, and was an essential part of your life, but now they are not part of your future.

Life will go on but it will never be the same.  I will love my little brother Kenny forever, and will do for him as we did for our mom – always make Ken’s favorite dishes on his birthdays, starting with one of his simple comfort meals, creamed tuna on toast.

Rest in peace, my little brother.

Ken is at bottom of the photo.




32 Responses to Life Can Change in an Instant

  1. January 31, 2024 at 11:09 pm #

    Hi Debbie,

    I was so sorry to read that you have lost your younger brother. That is a terrible tragedy.
    I don’t know you except from your wonderful site but please accept my heartfelt condolences. I hope you can find peace in the memories that you share and that the pain will ease a little.I also am the only girl amongst brothers so I know how much this loss is to you.
    I am glad you have found something positive to remember your Kenny.

    Sending you love and hugs

    • February 1, 2024 at 9:09 am #

      Thank you, Diana. Aren’t we lucky to be the only girl amongst brothers.

  2. February 1, 2024 at 12:20 am #

    I am so very sorry for your great loss! Much prayer coming your way!

    • February 1, 2024 at 9:07 am #

      Thank you, Emma.

  3. February 1, 2024 at 1:11 am #

    This is so tragic. I can understand your bewilderment over it all…it just seems so wrong. You wrote a truly beautiful testimony to his spirit and love of life. Sending you comfort and strength as you go on from here.

    • February 1, 2024 at 9:06 am #

      Thank you, Rosanne.

  4. February 1, 2024 at 2:40 am #

    What a beautiful tribute for your brother. I am so very sorry. Know that you and your family are in my prayers.

    • February 1, 2024 at 9:06 am #

      Thank you, Barb.

  5. February 1, 2024 at 4:24 am #

    This is a beautiful tribute to a much loved brother. I am so sorry for your pain and for a future without your brother present. Those phone calls!

    • February 1, 2024 at 9:05 am #

      Thank you, Lisa. I will miss those phone calls.

  6. February 1, 2024 at 4:41 am #

    I am so sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you and all of your family. Thank you for sharing his story with us.
    Hugs, Blessings, and Prayers

    • February 1, 2024 at 9:05 am #

      Thank you, Elaine.

  7. February 1, 2024 at 6:15 am #

    What a remarkable tribute to your lovely brother, Debbie. I am so sorry to hear of this tragic loss to you and your entire family, and all those who loved him. May happy memories of times shared together ease your grief.

    • February 1, 2024 at 9:04 am #

      Thank you, Janice.

  8. February 1, 2024 at 10:20 am #

    I’m so sorry for your loss Debbie. Keeping all of you in my prayers. ❤️

    • February 1, 2024 at 11:45 am #

      Thank you, Amy.

  9. February 1, 2024 at 10:53 am #

    I am so sorry for your loss Debbie. I hope the happy memories of a life shared together will eventually replace the grief you feel now. Your love for him will go on forever.

    • February 1, 2024 at 11:46 am #

      Thank you, Priscilla.

  10. February 1, 2024 at 12:35 pm #

    Debbie, I am so sad to learn of your loss. I must have met Ken at your mother’s internment. What a shock. What a senseless tragedy. I hope his memory will be a blessing for you and all who knew him. And I’m sending love to you!

    • February 1, 2024 at 8:20 pm #

      Thank you, Laurie. I have been thinking so much about our family this past week, and hope we can talk again soon. There aren’t many family members left of our generation and I want to keep in touch.

  11. February 1, 2024 at 5:54 pm #


    I’m so sorry for the sudden loss of your baby brother. Thank you for sharing your memories of him coming home from the hospital as a newborn. Your thoughtful writing carries a wonderful sense of him zest for life and family. The loved your special remembrance of your mom and your brother. Most sincerely, Polly

    • February 1, 2024 at 8:16 pm #

      Thank you, Polly.

  12. February 1, 2024 at 6:41 pm #

    Oh Debbie. This seems so unbelieveable. What a tremendous loss for you and all of Ken’s family and friends. Ken sounds like he was a remarkable person. Thank you for helping us to know him a bit through your beautfiul tribute.

    You’re right – all those shared memories with siblings . . . nothing and noone can come close to touching that part of who we are. All that you shared just became even more precious.

    Thank you for sharing. I hope it helps you to bear up under the burden of grief.

    • February 1, 2024 at 8:15 pm #

      Thank you for always having the comforting words, Denise.

  13. February 3, 2024 at 11:26 am #

    Every time I think of Ken (he will always be Kenny to me), I remember him playing with us and being happy following us around. He was a sweet and cute little boy and the love between you and your brother was evident back then. It is hard to think of his loss and Alan’s.
    My heart is broken for you and your family. Sending you prayers for healing and peace. ❤️

    • February 3, 2024 at 11:23 pm #

      Linda, he will always be Kenny to me too. Do you remember the time when he was about three years old and he got into mom’s red lipstick and drew with it all over his lips, and then we dressed him up like a girl with a hat, necklace, and purse? And he just smiled through the whole thing. He didn’t think anything of it; he just wanted to play with us.

      • February 6, 2024 at 9:27 am #

        Oh I do remember! That is so funny. He was always right with us and patient and quiet. He was just a sweet boy. He adored and loved you.

        • February 6, 2024 at 10:28 am #

          Linda, I still have a picture of it!

  14. February 3, 2024 at 12:07 pm #

    We will stick together as sisters and weather the storms that come. Love you dearly.

    • February 3, 2024 at 11:14 pm #


  15. February 5, 2024 at 1:51 pm #

    My dear friend, I am so very sorry about the loss of your 2 brothers in these past months.Thank you for sharing the sweet picture of you and your brothers, along with heartfelt memories of your youngest brother, Ken. He sounds like a very special brother who will be with you forever in your heart. Praying for the Lord to comfort your grieving, fill you with wonderful memories of times together, & strengthen you with Jesus’ grace, hope & peace during this sad time. Love & prayers to you & the family.

    • February 5, 2024 at 7:29 pm #

      Kim, thank you so much.

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