So on July 27th 2016, at 11:23 East Coast Time, my brother Donnie Rennie passed away. I have a step brother and a step sister, but I did not grow up with either of them. Donnie was my only natural sibling and that is a hard reality to be faced with. It has been the source of a lot of soul searching and pain this past week. As of this moment, the family of my childhood is just my Mom and I.

I was about 15 when Donnie was placed in an institution. Too young to understand and too self absorbed to wonder. Donnie was troubled at a young age, but as a child, I had no real understanding or appreciation of what he struggled with. I cannot recall a single happy memory of my brother. That is truly sad. There is a deep sadness that is just breaking my heart. I have struggled to understand this and perhaps I found some threads of understanding. I will try to share them here. It is a way for me to deal with this and perhaps acquire an understanding. Thank you for your patience and understanding as I ramble on.

I spoke to a very kind Pastor Dennis Kiggins, in Florida, who visited with Donnie three times this past week. Donnie never gained conscious since we were contacted by the hospital. Pastor Kiggins read scripture, shared the gospel and spent time with Donnie. He kissed Donnie on behalf of my Mom when he left him last. He was our arms to Donnie as I stayed with my Mom. You see, it was my Mom that had to make all the final decisions regarding Donnie’s care. That is a heavy load to place on the shoulders of an 82 year old widow. My Mom has always been a strong woman. It explains why I respect and love strong women and try to protect the women who are not so strong.

I tried to explain my sadness in the conversation with Pastor Kiggins. I think he really helped me to understand what I was truly mourning. I am mourning the final death of the hope of true family from my youth. I am mourning what divorce has done to our families. I am mourning what sin has done to the human race that causes our loved ones to be afflicted with mental illness, birth defects, disease and yes… epilepsy.

I am mourning what we have settled for family to be. It is so far from what God wants family to be. I am mourning because God mourns our state. I mourn the constant pain we inflict on each other. I mourn the emphasis on gain, success, materialism and power at the cost of love, nurturing, peace and faith. I mourn because God mourns what we settle for. God mourns what we do to one another. God mourns my loss and the loss we all feel.

In my conversations with the nurses, they explained Donnie’s health condition. Donnie had been long suffering with diabetes, kidney failure, heart failure, heart disease and afib. Donnie did not take their recommendations or precautions. Nearly everything that contributed to Donnie’s death was directly connected to his diet and lifestyle. His own life choices became a slow form of suicide. All of this could have been avoided by him taking just a little better care of himself. He chose differently.

Thank you all for your prayers this last week. Many of you took the time to pass on your prayers and your concern for me. I love you all for that.

May God Bless,


This is a related article to this time in my life.  It might give you additional perspective.

The Blessings From Vanity

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Mom and JR