Saturday, August 4, 2012

More Transitions

It's been an interesting couple of days.  An interesting week.

I used to live on a working ranch in Northeastern Santa Rosa, on the way to Calistoga and Napa Wine Country, near Safari West.  The Cresta family is a well known family in this area.  Three generations live on that ranch, and for six years we were blessed to share that space by renting one of the homes on the property.  From Bill, the patriarch, on down to the youngest of his teenage grandkids, they were good people, hard working, and became family to Amanda, Becca and me.

One of Bill's grandsons, Broc Cresta, was an up and rising rodeo star.  All the family participated in rodeo, whether it was steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, or raising champion steer wrestling horses or putting on roping events.  Broc was ranked 12th in the world as a team roper, heeler being his specialty.  Two turns at the National Finals Rodeo and loving the hard scrabble life of professional rodeo.  He found love last year when a barrel racer named Brittany stole his heart.  At 25, the world was his and he was chasing the dream.

Suddenly, the dream ended last weekend.  At Cheyenne's Frontier Days rodeo in Wyoming, he competed, spent time with friends and Brittany, went to sleep in his travel trailer, and ... never woke up.  Friends and family still await the results of the autopsy to try and figure out why in the world this young man left us too soon.

I attended the memorial at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday afternoon.  Trucks and trailers filled the parking lot of this huge venue, as barbecue grills billowed smoke outside.  Hats and boots and freshly pressed shirts and jeans filed in solemnly, pausing to look at the pictures of Broc and the table filled with his awards, belt buckles, spurs, and his saddle.  Hundreds gathered inside the theater while a video set to music played.  Tears welled up as I sat down and saw this young family I'd lived with, photos at the ranch and the many places Broc and they had traveled, all too soon far away memories.  A rodeo announcer took care of formalities as hats came off in the audience, and Broc's young friends and older brother filed in.  Beautiful words were spoken about a good young man, stories that made us laugh and cry.  Brittany played "Over You" by Miranda Lambert, and tears fell again.  Her heartbreak at losing young love was so apparent, so huge, as was Broc's brother's grief as he expressed his love for his little brother.

I had the chance to meet with some of the family after the service.  I sought out Brent especially.  I wanted to let him know that he would be okay, and that I understood his pain.  I told him that I was his age when I lost my little brother, who was just a year older than Broc at his death.  Brent's eyes were filled with pain and fear as he asked the question he was afraid to hear the answer to, "Does it get better?"  I was able to tell him yes.  It takes time, and the hole is always there, but eventually it doesn't tear you apart, eventually it doesn't make you wish you were dead, eventually you learn to cherish the memories and value the lessons learned instead of mourn the loss as much.  Eventually, you can look at his picture and smile instead of cry.

In looking at photos of Broc, I saw some taken of him at his last rodeo in Cheyenne.  I was surprised to see the number 222 on his back.  I had already thought about the time between my brother Tim's death and Broc's death, had marked in my mind that they were close in age, and they both died in hot July.  222.  Tim died exactly 22 years and 2 weeks before Broc.

We honored a young man who was a hero that little kids looked up to as they watched him wield his rope on horseback with amazing speed and accuracy at the rodeos and on television at the NFR.  We honored an honest, quiet, and hard working young man who loved as hard as he worked at his craft, and who touched so many lives in such a positive way.  Another young life to show us and remind us that you need to live every day as if it were your last, wring every bit of joy out of it that you can, and love as many and as much as you can.  Don't waste your time.  You can never get it back.

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