Friday, June 13, 2008

Christopher's Eulogy for Colin

Colin's brother, Christopher, spoke on his behalf at his funeral. Here is his tribute.

On behalf of my family, thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for your thoughts, prayers, time and love. We are a blessed family. This has been a difficult time for everyone. Kahlil Gibran wrote: “When you are sorrowful, look into your heart and you shall see that you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
We all have heroes and I have two, my father, for whom I am speaking, and Colin.
Almost 12 years ago Colin stood before a large group of family and my friends on the night of my rehearsal dinner. I remember thinking at the end how much I could not wait to return the favor. Instead, I stand before you today not to celebrate a new phase of his life, but to remember him. Ironically the man who saved so many lives has lost his.
My brother, Colin, as you all know is a wonderful, charismatic, vivacious, brilliant, hard-working, efficient, inspirational, confident and caring human being who used his gifts to make everyone feel better through the gift of knowing him. Put rather simply, he loved life. Each of us knew his gift in a different setting and could and will share stories of remembrance ad naseum to help us through this most difficult time. In order to help me do this I thought I would share just a few of countless stories we’ve thought of this week. They seem to help in between each tear I shed. As I said before, simply he loved life and lived it to the fullest, a renaissance man of sorts. His hobbies included Golf, Iron Working, Painting, Sculpting, International traveling, Cooking (trained in Tuscany, of course), Running, Bowhunting, Shark petting, ?Skydiving (sorry Mom), Martial Arts, Violin, TV Maven, Movie Efficianato, Tennis (did not say he was actually good at all these), Skiing, SnowBoarding, Wakeboarding and most recently training for triathalon (after writing this I thought it may be shorter to write what was not a hobby – but whatever that is was next). Collectively we all probably do not have this many. The majority of these things he found time to do in the middle of very demanding residency program. He did things in 28 years, what we collectively might do in a lifetime. His life was cut way to short as we all know, but he would want us to know that he had a great time and we have some catching up to do.
As I put together the words to describe my brother, a few memories came to mind. Each morning the Goodier children were to make their beds prior to leaving for school. Well, Mr. Efficiency decides that he would like to just have a readymade bed by convincing my parents to give him a sheet that had built in it a red tent. We shared a room you every morning he would laugh as I would struggle to make my bed while he got a few more minutes of sleep, got up and zipped his tent. He even took it a step further and would sleep in his school uniform from time to time.
Those of you who know Colin – know he loved television and movies. His television watching career began late nights when I was finally old enough to have a TV in our room (go figure) and we would watch Benson, Sanford and Son and David Letterman. One of Colin’s trademarks was his ability to walk by a television and finish just about any line from any show. We now know him as the man who could have conversations in movie quotes. It took awhile to refine his skill, as he had a few famous malprops along the way. One of my personal favorites occurred while driving in the car to the beach one summer; he was trying to describe Mr. T’s hairstyle as a MOCROW. In addition he ultimately referred to the most recent movie he watched as “Clap of the Tightman.” I will never forget the night of my engagement dinner when he earned the nickname “Ruprict” from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels by poking his fork into a cork and then his eye.
To have exotic hobbies as our renaissance man did, one must know how to stretch a dollar. One day my sisters and I were goofing off in his ante room (only Colin shares a room and has his own too) and we went looking in a desk drawer only to find a significant amount of money. Well, this 9 year old prodigy explains, “I don’t really trust banks” and from there he went.
As he came of age, Colin was known to enjoy an adult beverage from time to time. Colin, at what we thought was the tender age of sixteen, was best man in my wedding. He took his responsibilities very seriously and was his stoic self as usual. He did everything he could for me that night, including trying to manage a bunch of South Carolinians in the city of New Orleans, if you know what I mean. He kept steady until about half way through the reception when asked to go get a few more bottles of champagne out of the preparation room and the stress of it all set in so he decided to keep a something in the neighborhood of a bottle or two for himself. By the end of the night he was loving everyone in the room like a brother, including my, at that time future brother in law, my new father in law whom he had only recently met and strangely a few of my friends girlfriends. He led Beth and I down the stairs to exit the Orleans Club with his hands in the air and that big goofy grin on his face….a memory we will cherish dearly forever. Later on he was often seen wearing a smoking jacket drinking only the finest martini’s.
His favorite hobby was golf, and maddeningly all he had to do was pick up the club and he figured it out, much like everything it just came naturally to him. He would play with anybody, and many of you are here, but mostly cherished riding 18 with my father or charging a cart to my father and riding 18 with me or walking with my brother in law, his beloved buddy. Playing together as a foursome was as good as it got, although for us just ridiculous, as we struggled with lessons and driving range balls, and he would show up just as we were about to start and hit the ball 300+ yards down the middle with a slight draw, and then step back trying to hold back that big smile we all see so often. It was a treat and honor to be able to play with him and watch him hit the ball. I think I can speak for my Dad and Ben in saying it will never be the same. Ironically the last conversation Colin had was with my father and he was teasing him about the double bogeys he made the weekend before. He will be with you for each one you make.
My family is famous for its dinners honoring this special occasion or that. We would get together at the direction of my Mother, who would spend the day preparing the meal for us. Everyone would convene from wherever they were and it would only take a few minutes before the tease of the day was declared, many times he/she was not even there to defend themselves. They lasted for hours because we could not stop laughing, mostly because Colin would have some story to tell, or some retort that would just set us off. These too will never be the same, but Mom they must continue. I guarantee at the first one we will hear Colin saying, quit feeling sorry for me and make fun of my red shoes, call me Dreamboat. It’s all good he would say.
Over the last few days, I, like you I presume, have found myself asking why. Why did this unbelievable set of circumstances coalesce to one moment when God called him home? We still need him here on earth. His nieces and nephew need their strong and silly (as they describe him) Uncle Colin. For me, he was the person I called whenever I needed to feel better, as I could hear that smile that would make the saddest feel better, or every time I had a patient complication or for advice in the operating room. Why God? Who can I ask now? My Uncle George, a priest, who loved and was loved by Colin so dearly, always used to tell me that we live life in our time, when in fact we need to live it in God’s time. I think he took it from Luke in Chapter18 who so eloquently wrote –“We must always pray and not lose heart.” Explicit in these words is the never-ceasing necessity of hope that is humble enough to really pray, and at the same time, magnanimous enough to wait cooperatively for the fulfillment of its prayer. As we struggle to find meaning in this irreconcilable loss, I pray for each of you to know that we will heal from this, but it will be in God’s time.
Each of you meant so much to Colin and my family is grateful to you all for what you have done for him. You made him better and in turn he made us better. To the LSU Family thank you for giving him the opportunity to do what he loved. You have lost a most gifted surgeon, caring doctor and friend. He was so close to living his dream of being a plastic surgeon. He earned the opportunity through hard work and diligence throughout medical school and residency – in fact, some of you know that Colin demonstrated drive early in life. He was so dedicated that he studied for a high school test at my sister Kendall’s Queen’s supper – pulling out his notecards and standing in the curtains and near one of the only sources of light bright enough to read by. At Lindsey’s High School Graduation – he sat in the row with a study guide to the board exams propped on his lap. He always found a way to be there for his family, but stay focused on his goals. Neither ever suffered. He had the unique blend of work ethic and brilliance that not many demonstrate – those patients he was privileged to care for these last three years are lucky – as I believe he was destined to be one of the greatest. I am sad for those who will not receive the benefit of his mind, heart and hands.
To his friends, thank you for being there for him through thick and thin and for being here today. You all meant so much to him. You were a vital source of strength and energy for him. As you mourn the loss of your friend know that he is at peace and that you all will always be a part of our lives. To those closest to his heart, re-live the good moments and know that God gave him a glimpse into your soul. Because of this, he derived some of his greatest happiness in your times together and I hope you move forward with his strength, love and belief in you.
To my family – just turn around and look. Sitting by you is the remainder of our family and friends who have been with you for so many years, and have stood with you over these last few days, and will help you through this, but beyond them are the countless many here to help lift you through this. There is no greater love than that of a parent. I am only beginning to understand the measure of that tremendous responsibility and gift. Mom and Dad, God gave you a gift in Colin to take care of, to teach our faith, to raise to love others and seek out and use the gifts he was given. Well out there is what Colin went out and did. Each person has stories of what Colin did for them and someone else they know because of what you helped set and motion and continued to nurture throughout his every day. Dad, you were Colin’s hero. From you he derived his wit, wisdom, commitment to excellence, and of course his stature (thanks a lot). Everyone knows how proud of him you are, as he was so much a part of every conversation. He was your boy and I know how much you will miss him. You meant more to him than you will ever know. Mom, if anyone’s love for their child could have changed the circumstances of this week, it is yours. From you he learned compassion, loyalty and how to love and be loved (and of course his stature, oh wait, that’s me).
Ben, I know that you have not only lost a friend, but a brother as well. Your pain runs as deep as mine for the loss of our brother. To my sisters, what do I say? We have been through so much together as a foursome – trips to Disneyworld, each others athletic events, graduations, Christmas Eve sleepovers and of course rotating couches at consecutive family events. I can’t imagine how painful it will be without him there. We are now three but we are held together by the strength of our fourth. With Beth and Ben by our side, we were alone with Colin one last time yesterday. Despite the pain, Colin’s presence brought us peace. I know that none of us wanted to leave without him. Thomas Merton, in the Ascent to Truth wrote that true peace is only found through suffering. I am not sure how long this suffering will last, but I believe that God wants us to be there for each other and search for the light in the darkness that is his loss. I believe that his life’s purpose will live on as this light is what each of us knew in Colin. Thank you dear Lord for letting us know him and spend time with him.
In closing, I would like to share an Irish blessing that has been important to me, my wife and children for some time. I hope it brings you all some comfort as well.
May the road rise to meet you, may the wind blow at your back, May the sun shine warmly on your face, May the rain fall softly on your fields, Until we meet again, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hands. I love you Colin, I will miss you every day. Be good.

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