Brian’s Column: Reflections on a Noble Soul

Forrest S. Wright (1951-2007)
Seeds for new life and understanding

On May 7, 2017, it will be an unbelievable 10 years since my dear brother Forrest Steven Wright passed away at the tender age of 56. The column below was originally penned and posted shortly following his memorial service, then reposted two years after that. Since losing him then so unexpectedly, I have also had to say good bye to my mother (2/26/13) and to put my to sleep my trusty benevolent feline presence, Tabby (4/20/17). Losing Tabby reminded me, in particular, of Forrest and his Zen appreciation of all creatures great and small. I miss you, bro. Good night sweet boy.

The Original Postings

It seems like yesterday, though it’s been exactly a week since I accompanied my sister-in-law Grace and their children to the funeral home in Rochester, Michigan. Through varying waves of tears, we caringly helped one another move the process forward to yield to my brother Forrest a resting place attended by proper ceremony.

The whole affair turned out in its way as a work of art.  From visitation day, to reminiscences, to the honor-guard rifle salute—Forrest was a Vietnam vet—I can’t conceive of a better release for a finer being. So many friends and loved ones came, thank you so much. Grace, my nephews and nieces, my mother, and sister were all so wonderful.  Here are some parting words that have been put into print:

I conclude this reflection back in my own crib, caused by something that happened the other day as I rested in the half-awareness between sleep and waking:

Once when Forrest and I were maybe 7 and 8, we had captured a bunch of fireflies in the backyard of our suburban Kansas City home. For some reason I felt they had to be let go, so I opened the jars and set them free.  He was distraught. So in sympathy I drew with crayons my image of fireflies as they might appear back in the jar.[1]

Well, as I’m lying there experiencing his loss, I feel once again I must do something analogous to representing the fireflies, something to bring him back into our lives.

I had been working on a 12-step program for “healing our world,” and I wanted to work it into my rewrite of New Pilgrim Chronicles where I describe what’s happening in the Free State on the leading edge of the freedom movement.  Catalyzed by Forrest’s character, particularly his naturalism and love of children and animals, I reached an epiphany of sorts.

I jumped out of bed to record my thoughts on the 12 steps.  I’ve only the seeds of them finished today.  But for those interested in what’s coming, you may click on the work in progress; I’m trying to make a correlation to chapters in the book as well as the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous—not exactly straightforward. [Note: leaving these refer- ences in despite the fact they don’t seem very well written, to me, now… also embar-rassingly self-serving. Hey, warts and all, history is what it is, and honesty demands it be left intact (when not omitted) :)].

I’ll call it something like Ladder of the Firefly Restoration.

Reflections on Second Anniversary, May 2009

Briefly, and I have some more photos of Forrest when he was a little one. My mom and I both comment frequently, “I was just thinking of visiting with Forrest this week to get something off my mind. He’s so good as a listener and usually has fine suggestions.” There’s a pretty large hole over there in the Rochester/Rochester Hills area with the many lines of thought (and lines of love) he left behind. Quite a hole over on this side of town, too.

Sadly, I fear I’m losing touch with his family now, with the exception of an occasional conversation with daughter Brenna and a cyberchat once in a while with son Cameron, who is still overseas in the Peace Corps… but coming back to Michigan in August. What will he find here in terms of work?

I don’t really want to lose them, any more than I wanted to lose him. My best wishes go out to his wife, Grace, and the rest. Know that I share the sense of loss and the sense of pride that we were around one of the great ones. Right arm, Bro! I light a candle every day.

[Coffee Coaster Column link]

[1] This incident and others captured in my reminiscence, Overland Park Way. The second and fourth episodes recall particular early events where my brother was center stage.

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