I did something that gave me great pause a few weeks ago; I buried a brother. Mike Ross, whom I went to Cal Poly with, and lived with for a year, died in an airplane crash on Sept 7. He was flying with his father, Bob, also a pilot, over Arkansas when their plane crashed. They both died in the crash; Mike was 32.
I do not have a biological brother. I told my mother to take my youngest sister, Esther, back to the hospital when she was born. I was six, but I had always wanted a brother. By the time I finished my year at the Joe (St Joseph) House in 2002, I felt that I had gained three brothers and two sisters. I have stayed pretty close to one of the men and one of the women, but I had let my relationship with Mike slide pretty bad. I had not seen him in the flesh for at least two years, and had not spoke or emailed him in a long time. Now, the opportunity to talk or visit Mike this side of heaven is gone.
Mike was a man of action, while I am one of contemplation. I remember after praying the Rosary one night for house prayer night at the Joe House, he said he really did not enjoy praying the Rosary that much. On the other hand, he served. He was a regular fixture at the Newman Center’s turn at People’s Kitchen, where the homeless of San Luis Obispo were fed daily. He took part in nearly every single housebuilding trip to Tijuana. Now, after death, I found that he was working for La Mancha Media, a non-profit that created online videos for other non-profits. He was also doing housebuilding trips to Tijuana every month. Mike was a source of God’s love and light in the world.
Recently, the 100th birthday of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta came and passed. Her ethos was to follow the great command of Jesus in Luke 25. “Whatever you do to these, you do unto me,”. This, I believe, was Mike’s approach to living his faith and life ingeneral.
This makes me stop, think, and demands that I examine my life. I try to live an honorable and faithful life. I feel like the young rich man who tells Jesus that he follows the commandments and asks what he must do to gain eternal life. Jesus tells him that he must sell all that he owns, leave his family, and follow. The young man cannot do this. At today’s dual memorial for Bob and Mike, no one talked about the the business that Bob ran or the job that Mike had. They talked about the kind of men that they were; men of love, integrity, and service. What kind of man am I, what kind of man or woman are you?
Some of the photos at Mike’s reception showed him running the 2008 San Diego Marathon. I am plan on running the 2011 Big Sur Marathon. Maybe I will beat his PR and mine. Maybe I’ll run for La Mancha Media. What will you do to the least of God’s children?