The legacy of a man

Someone once told me that the most important job titles in life are not going to be found in a Fortune 500 company, not in any professional review journal, nor in any other prestigious resume. Rather, the most important job titles in life are found on the headstones and obituaries of the ones we love and admire; and one day of our own. Beloved Husband. Loving Father. Cherished Son. Loyal Friend.

Though "in-lawed" by my older sister, Wendy...Brock was my brother the moment Wendy introduced him to me 2 years prior
 Brock and Wendy circa 1999 on their first Disney vacation together

Brock and Wendy circa 1999 on their first Disney vacation together

For me, Brock MacCallum Cusick was my beloved brother.  Though "in-lawed" by my older sister, Wendy, when they got married in 2001, Brock was my brother the moment Wendy introduced him to me 2 years prior as her new boyfriend. He stood tall like a mountain, confident and grounded like no one I had ever met before. Yet his words, actions and intentions were always of kindness, generosity and the greater good. With a steel trap mind and savant-like intelligence, debating and arguing with him was absolutely futile (or at least it was for me). But with a heart as pure as gold, it was hard to stay upset at Brock for very long. And up until then, I had never seen my sister happier.  

 The night Brock and Wendy FINALLY decided to tell my parents they were engaged...for 3 months already!

The night Brock and Wendy FINALLY decided to tell my parents they were engaged...for 3 months already!

 Walking the beaches of the Northumberland Straight while visiting the family blueberry farm in Port Elgin, New Brunswick, CA

Walking the beaches of the Northumberland Straight while visiting the family blueberry farm in Port Elgin, New Brunswick, CA

...in the end he knew his love for his family and friends was more important than being right.

Since I never had an older brother before nor he a little sister, we quickly embraced our newly found titles without any hesitation and just ran with it as if we were siblings from birth.  I relished in having another older sibling looking out for my well being, only it was better because it was without the baggage or past history. Just like with Wendy, Brock's opinion was very important to me. Like any little sister would, I would often times go to Brock for advice if I didn't like what I was hearing from Wendy. We'd debate and verbally spar (his favorite activity) over any and every idea and theory, but he always knew when to stop because in the end he knew his love for his family and friends was more important than being right. His infectious belly laugh made me laugh along with him even if it was over something so ridiculously asinine. 

 Brock shares a kiss with Wendy on Christmas Eve 2008, secretly and anxiously waiting to share their pregnancy news on Christmas morning.

Brock shares a kiss with Wendy on Christmas Eve 2008, secretly and anxiously waiting to share their pregnancy news on Christmas morning.

His "dad humor" was like a good wine and only got better with age.

When Brock and Wendy decided to move down to Florida after the birth of their first son, John, I knew it was the best decision for them, but I selfishly wished they stayed up north. As their family grew, Brock's love for his family grew exponentially, and yet he continued to stay steady and grounded like the tall mountain that I had first met. The patience he had was infinite for his 3 children, now ages 8, 5, and 3. He truly loved and treated his nieces (my girls) as if they were his own.  His "dad humor" was like a good wine and only got better with age.

 Brock and I embracing our newly found titles "Daddy" and "Ayi" (Aunt) moments after my nephew, John, is born. 

Brock and I embracing our newly found titles "Daddy" and "Ayi" (Aunt) moments after my nephew, John, is born. 

 Days after Patrick is born, Brock and Wendy take a moment to affirm their new reality of being parents of 3.

Days after Patrick is born, Brock and Wendy take a moment to affirm their new reality of being parents of 3.

 Brock joins John, Finlay, and Viola for dinner at the cousins kiddie table

Brock joins John, Finlay, and Viola for dinner at the cousins kiddie table

As I look through old photos for this blog post, I feel blessed to have had known such a great man, to have been a small part of his legacy.
 Our latest Chang family photo from their most recent visit to NJ.  Photo by Erika Kao

Our latest Chang family photo from their most recent visit to NJ.  Photo by Erika Kao

It has been two weeks since the complete shock of Brock's sudden passing.  It has been two weeks and two days since Brock, Wendy, my nephews and niece were just in NJ visiting us. It has been three weeks since I showed Brock and Wendy for the first time, the photos from our recent Chang family photo session with photog friend Erika Kao.  Now that I am finally back home in NJ with Keith and the girls, the whirlwind of activity proceeding his death has started to settle and this new reality is starting to emerge--a new reality that I can only imagine what is like for my sister and her children. As I looked through old photos for this blog post, I feel blessed to have had known such a great man, to have been a small part of his legacy.  I am so grateful for his existence, influence, and imprint on my sister's life. At the same time, I selfishly feel sad that most of my memories of him exist in my mind and that I don't really have any pictures of him and me together.  Maybe one will emerge in the future.  For now, I'll hold on to this one of Brock and Wendy from Brock's most recent social media profile pic, as happy as I remember them when they first met. 

 Brock and Wendy at Scott and Tara's Wedding