Monday, August 27, 2007

Clay : The Brother I Never Had

As regular readers of Sunny’s blog will already know, her youngest son, my step-son, was killed in a car crash in the early hours of Sunday morning.

It feels strange to call Clayton my step-son. He was 23 years old, three years younger than me and although by law he is my step-son, I’ll always think of him as a brother…and Clay was everything a brother should be. He was also everything a son should be, a friend should be, and I’m certain he would have been everything a father should be.

Look up the word ‘Family’ in the dictionary, and you’ll see a picture of Clayton with a huge grin on his face.

The deepest tragedy in his passing is that he left behind his wife and his unborn child. I do, however, take comfort in the fact that his baby will certainly know his father. His family will see to that.

It was hard to know Clay for any length of time and not be deeply impressed by him. As a teenager, he managed to get himself into some trouble, and his life could easily have taken a sharp downward turn. However, never one to take the easy way out, and with the help of his wife and family he fought to set things right and managed to climb higher than I would have ever thought possible. In the end, Clay became as example to us all, and despite being both younger than me and my step-son, he became someone I looked up to.

Clay was the kind of person who didn’t use his troubles and problems as excuses for why he couldn’t make it, but instead used them as reasons for why he had to make it. Clay could easily have become a cautionary tale, but his pure will and strength of character turned him into an inspiration, an example to us all that no matter how deep a hole you find yourself in, you can always find your way out.

I think the thing we can all take comfort in, is that Clay wore his heart on his sleeve and never left anything unsaid. He took every opportunity to tell the people he loved that he loved them, and how much he cared for them. If more people were like Clay, there’d be far fewer regrets in the world. If we learn nothing else from Clay, we should learn this: Tell the people you love that you love them. You never know when it’ll be the last time, and that’s what Clay did. Treat every goodbye as if it was his last.

I only knew Clay for three short years, but one of Clay’s greatest strengths is that you didn’t have to know him for very long to know the type of person he was, even if you didn’t actually know him personally. Clay was the type of person who could always make you laugh, was fiercely loyal to his friends and family, loved them deeply and was never afraid to say so. He’d gladly put himself out to help others and would never see a family member or friend in trouble without doing something to help them out.

Clay, I didn’t know you for very long, but I thought of you as a brother. You managed to fit a lifetime of laughs into the few years I knew you, and while I’ll never be able to say I was as close to you as you were to Frank or Julie or your blood family, we were family.

I feel privileged to have known you for the short time I did and I’ll always remember you with a smile. The Fourth of July will never pass without reminding me of you throwing a fire-cracker and shouting “The British are coming! The British are coming!”

As I said at the time, “Hey, The British are already here.” I don’t know what was funnier, the look on your face, or how mortified you were that you ‘offended’ me.

I wasn’t offended Clay, and that was one of the first times out of million you made me laugh. That’s how I’ll remember you Clay, through laughter.

I miss you, Clay, we all do.


manda said...

omg so sad!! i started tearing up and everything, and That is so sweet what you wrote.

I just don't know what to say I'm sooo sorry this happened to you all. my deepest condolences to you all...

yeahh.... TAKE CARE.. love you all

Marissa said...
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