Monday, March 31, 2014


My beloved husband, friend, partner and co-conspirator Kevin Brooks died 74 hours ago. It's only just starting to sink in. He won't be walking in the door and hugging me. He won't be calling me to see if I need anything as he comes home from work. He won't be playing with me, making silly faces again. He won't be.

What else is there to say. I am a wound now, little else. I know given time I will heal into something that vaguely resembles what I was before, but not the same. That knowledge doesn't help.

I can't imagine a world without him. I can't imagine a life without him. (I know, it will come, but that knowledge doesn't help). I can't imagine not touching him again, not feeling his hand on my cheek, not talking with him and watching the world together.

I can't.

I try to comfort myself with all the usual platitudes (good life... time together better than none... etc...) and they don't help. I either feel empty or I'm sobbing. I've smiled and laughed some (I am surrounded by people taking good care of me) but every breath feels like a lie.

A friend who was widowed a few years ago said this to me: Losing a parent is awful, but you don't get to choose them. You choose your spouse so losing them is even worse. Having not yet lost a parent I can't speak to this, but I do know that I honestly can't imagine a worse pain.

I know, it's breath by breath. Each breath is one I wish I could give him.

(c)2014 Laura S. Packer

p.s. Here is the obit I wrote for him. It's inadequate. Nothing can capture him.

Kevin Michael Brooks, 55, Kansas City, Missouri, moved onto his next adventure on March 28, 2014 surrounded by his family and friends. While pancreatic cancer may have removed his body from the earth, those who love him are sure he is still laughing, loving and learning somewhere else.

Kevin’s life is not defined by his illness. He was a man who adored his children, Stephan, Cara, Kristoff and Vered Brooks. He was a dedicated partner, problem-solver, lover and supporter to his wife, Laura Packer. He was a son who made his mother, Carolyn Brooks, proud every day. He was a brother, a cousin, an uncle and a nephew who inspired his entire family. He remained a helper to his first wife and the mother of his children, Marian King. His smile made everyone who met him know they were loved, whether they were old friends or new acquaintances. And his storytelling performances made his audiences laugh, cry and rejoice in the world.

Kevin was a graduate of Drexel, Stanford and MIT universities. He worked for Apple Computers, Motorola and Hallmark Cards as a designer, finding new ways to help people connect through technology. His innovative thinking and drive for connection led his Apple, Motorola and Hallmark colleagues to think in ways they had never imagined. His passion for education, innovation and creativity were exceeded only by his generosity with his fellow students and co-workers.

Kevin was born in Philadelphia, PA and made home wherever he lived including the Bay Area in California, Boston and Kansas City.

A terrific example of Kevin’s spirit can be found in his annual Christmas celebration. Every year he and his family would bake bread together, so it could be given as gifts and shared. They called it “diversity challah” and it represented all of the different facets of his life. Whole wheat and white challah doughs were braided together, baked and shared on Christmas, encompassing different races, religions and forms of celebration. On Christmas day Kevin and Laura would open their home and invite everyone they knew to come and celebrate, regardless of religion. Bread would be broken, food would be shared, stories would be told. Old friends and strangers would mingle and find joy together. Throughout it all, Kevin would smile, hug, laugh and welcome. His spirit was limitless.

His spirit remains limitless. While cancer may have ended his life here, he remains in our hearts. Every time those who know and love him bake bread, ride a bike, tell a story, invent something new, collaborate on a project, notice technical details of a film, drink a Long Island iced tea, laugh until they cry, juggle, swim, ride a roller coaster, eat barbecue, dance or embrace each other, he is there. We will love and remember him always.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to his site, where the funds will assist in medical bills and other expenses; his family will also make donations in his name to appropriate charities. Memorial services will be held in Kansas City and Boston at a later date. Details will be posted on his page.

We are grateful for the gift of his life.

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  1. Oh dear, dear friend! Your image is so descriptive and I just wish I could come and give you a hug and listen to you and cry with you. Although I am not physically with you sitting shiva, I am sitting shiva alone here in Panama where I have been watching Kevin videos and weeping with you from afar.

  2. This too shall pass is the coldest, bleakest of comfort. It's worse than trying to imagine winter in summer, or comfort in the midst of excruciating pain. All I can offer is to honor your heartbreak, your terrible journey. Sending love, shared long-distance shiva. I wish we all could share your load and lighten it.

  3. Breathe. Remember that Kevin would want you to be safe, and happy. Love and hugs.

  4. "That knowledge doesn't help"
    "every breath feels like a lie"

    Truer words have never been written.

  5. My grandmother, who died in 1946, said the same thing about the difference between losing your parent and losing your spouse. My heart breaks for you.

  6. Oh my dear woman. I wish words could bring him back, whole and smiling. I wish anything I could say would help.

  7. Laura, I am so incredibly sorry for you. Kevin sounded absolutely wonderful (anyone who baked bread like that, or loved Long Island Ice Teas must have been). You have my deepest sympathies. Be well. Take care of yourself. oxoxoxo

  8. A fellow redditor here, your solemn words made me cry. This was beautifully written. Here is a hug, a big one.

  9. Laura, beautiful just beautiful. and you are right, we choose our spouses or they choose us. sometimes it is as you have experienced, an amazing amalgamation of Wonder that happens in that collaborative relationship. Hugging you Hard. Your words are in my heart. Can't even image how you are feeling at this moment. HUG HUG HUG

  10. Your writing reminds me of Joan Didion's "Year of Magical Thinking. She put her husbands shoes out and pretended he was still alive and coming home. This just makes sense to me. When reality exceeds our capacity to cope - we always have our imagination and stories to give us a break. It's not denial. It is love. Peace be with you.

  11. Laura, I am so sorry for your loss. I don't go on facebook, but I get emails from it, and saw something was wrong and tracked you down to here. I hadn't known you left Boston or about Kevin. My heart goes out to you. *tight hugs and love*
    Carole B.

  12. I don't believe we ever really "get over" significant loss. It becomes a part of who we are. I wish you strength - and luck - as life reinvents you, and you, my dear, dear Laura, reinvent yourself.


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