Sunday, August 26, 2012

In Loving Memory - Christopher John Cornwall

Christopher John Cornwall 
August 31, 1949 - August 18, 2012 
(photo taken 1960s)

I didn't post last Sunday. It's been a hellish couple of weeks. My eldest brother, Chris, passed away in the wee hours of Saturday morning on August 18. This week, I devote this space to my brother, a kind, gentle man with an incredible mind, a quick wit and a passion for the arts. He was a wonderful big brother and a true friend.

Thirty years ago, Chris and I sat on either side of my mother's hospital bed as she took her last breaths. In these final moments, though her body was emaciated by ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and her speech was severely compromised, she spoke. I believed she was saying, "Hold me up. Hold me up." Chris believed she was saying, "Love. Love." Who knows for sure. Both could be true. I felt she wanted us to hold her up in her bed; she was not the type of person to take death lying down. Perhaps what Chris thought she was saying was also true and she wanted to walk towards pure love. Chris and I were there together for this. We have always tried to have each other's backs - before that difficult time, during and after.

He was the best big brother I could ever have hoped for and I cannot recall an instance, not for a moment, when he said or did anything unkind or hurtful. He was the most kind, gentle and loving man I have ever known. When my youngest brother and I were little, I am 13 years Chris's junior, he took us to Centre Island in Toronto and arranged to take us up in a small plane to tour over the city!

He taught me to dance, gave me records form his DJ days in the 1970s and took me to see ABBA, Springsteen, Duran Duran and Blondie. He invited me and many friends to his perfect Vancouver Pride Parade viewing location year after year, but most of all, above all else, he loved me absolutely and unconditionally. He accepted me exactly as I am without question, no matter how I erred or failed, no matter if I was by his side or not.

God knows I wish I had made the time and resources to see him in these last two years. I didn't. There are reasons, circumstances, but the fact remains that I didn't. I pray he can forgive me my physical absence and that he knew, that he knows now, he was never far from my mind and never out of my heart. He will never be gone from my heart. My greatest inheritance from my brother is the example of his life - his kindness, his beautiful, gentle heart and his grace. He was the purest definition of a gentleman.

I love you Chris - my beautiful, perfect brother. You have been and always will be my angel.

With only good memories of our time together in this life, from your loving sister, or as you called me, "mia sorella", Gillian.

-Gillian Cornwall, August 26, 2012.


Alberta said...

Yes, Chris was all of those things. There is nothing I can add because you have "said it like it is". I loved him and miss knowing that he is physically out there somewhere where I can call or email. Thank goodness I know that I can still talk with him and that he can be closer than ever.

I am sure he is around you still and always. You were as much a support to him and he was to you and you made a profound difference in his life. You are a good person and that can't be said of many.

Sending you love in your time of grief and loss.


Lauren CS. said...

I honestly cannot recall anything I have ever read that was as beautiful as this. You bring tears to my eyes. You are the embodiment of the love and kindness you spoke so proudly of in him. He is proud of you.