We all know that familia is not just flesh and blood. It is those who have invested their hearts and lives into ours and those we love. Outside of my blood brother and sister, I’ve been blessed with so many siblings (and parents). I’m still in shock at the passing of my brother, Dan Rowland, on New Years Day.
I love Dan not because I knew him best but because of how he loved my parents and everyone that he came in contact with. If ever there was an example of Christ’s love for people, it was exemplified in and through Dan. He gave selflessly to his country, his family and his church. Dan would even give to complete strangers. How can I even properly honor a man with words that would never seem to do justice? I know I can’t but I must share what is in my heart.
Besides his loving and caring heart, Dan was a prayer warrior. When I say prayer warrior, I don’t mean it in hyperbole. I mean it as en serio – I’m about to cut you, serio. How appropriate then that the above picture of Dan in Afghanistan was captioned “Watchman on the wall”. In the bible, we are told of watchmen who are placed on city walls for protection. Spiritually, we have watchmen (and watch-women) who give of their time in prayer for the sake of many. As naturally a protector you could get, Dan was a husband, father, soldier and nurse. God used him in natural circumstances to often times bring about supernatural results. His life is a testimony to the faithfulness, mercy and love that God has for us all.
If I could just break this down on a more secular level. I remember picking up “dude” (Dan’s favorite expression for anybody and anything) from LAX as he was returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. We talked about a lot of things but the thing I remember most was his excitement for buying a DVD pack of In Living Color. I remember thinking he was too white to enjoy that show. His favorite sketch was that of Mr. and Mrs. Brooks – an elderly couple that (in public) seemed like they were very much in love but behind closed doors, they were at each others throats, about to kill each other. Dan said it reminded him of himself and his wife Michelle. He laughed and said, (in the Brooks’ voice) “…but we still together!” It’s funny more now as I look over pictures of Dan and Michelle. Most men have their arm/hand around the shoulder of their wife. Dan’s hand is strangely close to Michelle’s neck. I’m laughing and crying…God help me!
I’m going to miss dude more than I can describe. I’ve been fighting through tears as I’m writing this. We won’t ever understand why Dan was taken from us so soon. It seems so unfair. Yet, I’m reminded of an old song:
‘Tho shadows deepen and my heart bleeds; I will not question the way He leads; This side of heaven, we know in part; I will not question a broken heart; We’ll talk it over in the by and by; We’ll talk it over, my Lord and I; I’ll ask the reason, He’ll tell me why; When we talk it over in the by and by
Appreciate those you love while they’re still around. Tell them you love them. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to express my love and gratitude to Dan while he was around. Although he is absent from us, Dan is in the presence of God. There’s a new soldier of heaven and I’m sure God will have him continue to be a watchman over a lot of us. I love you Dan.