imageI hadn’t ever considered what it would be like to write a eulogy for my brother. If I had, I’m sure I would have assumed I’d have another 40 or 50 years before that would be asked of me. It was painful and healing at the same time. I am moving through my grief, one foot in front of the other. There have been gifts – I’ve never felt more close to my parents, I’ve gotten the chance to see family and friends, and I’ve spent countless time remembering Nick’s life. But this is also the most painful thing I have ever experienced. What a rollercoaster.

Sharing my feelings with my broader community has been so helpful these last several days. So, in that spirit, I wanted to share some more memories of Nick here.

Nicholas David Eastman
March 18, 2015

Friends, loved ones, and family –

It is an honor and privilege for me to pay tribute today to a very special person, my brother Nicholas David Eastman. Thank you for being here on this tragic occasion to pay your respects to my brother. Many of you have traveled long distances to be here and my family and I are very grateful. Everyone’s love, condolences, and memories have helped us get through this difficult time.

Nick lost his life far too soon. He had a lot left to accomplish and many more people to make smile, and so it is terribly sad that he is not here with us today.

This morning as I found a quiet moment to write a few words to share with you, I imagined he was sitting with me helping me tell his story. I know he’d want me to tell you about my favorite memories of him and about the impact he had on all of us, and so I’d like to share some of those stories and lessons he taught us now.

Nick was loyal and dedicated to those he loved. The last time I spoke with Nick a few weeks ago, it was because he was calling me to let me know that one of our family members was in the hospital (she’s fine now – it was a brief illness). He had tried to call her cell phone but she wasn’t answering, so he found the phone number to her hospital room and tried that. No answer still. So he began calling around to different nurses’ stations in the hospital until he was successful in charming one of them to bring her personal cell phone into the room so that Nick could speak with our family member and make sure she was OK. He always put family first, and this story is just one of many that makes that clear. He would never leave a conversation or an interaction with us without saying, “I love you.” Because he had trouble saying Jessica when he was first learning to talk, he has always called me Sis. So whenever he said goodbye to me, it was always, “I love you, Sis,” or, when he was feeling fancy, “I love you, Sister”.

In this, he taught us how to make family our first priority.

He was also quite the charmer – he could convince people he’d just met to do just about anything. People just adored Nick. He was hard not to love. This served him well in his brief career as a telemarketer where he was significantly more successful than any of his coworkers at selling newspapers with that country boy accent that would inspire trust from anyone with which he spoke. He used these charming abilities on our family as well. Each Christmas Eve, my mom would say that this year would be the year we were going to wait until Christmas morning to open up all of our gifts. And each year without fail, Nick would eventually succeed in convincing her to let us open just one (or sometimes two or three) presents on Christmas Eve. And he was the most successful of our entire family in convincing my Aunt Rhonda to make her famous chocolate gravy for him for breakfast whenever she was with us.

In this, he taught us that if you treat people well and take care of them, they will do the same for you.

Being around Nick was guaranteed to be a fun time. His laugh was infectious – I found a video in the last few days where he is laughing along with his baby niece, and I can barely stop myself from watching it over and over again. His friends have been sharing memories with us these last few days, and almost without exception, they are stories of long laughter and so much fun. If you were in a serious mood, you better expect that to change really quickly if Nick was around.

In this, he taught us to not take ourselves too seriously and enjoy life.

We had a typical brother/sister relationship growing up. We’d argue with each other and then be back in each others’ good graces within minutes. I can just hear our young voices yelling out across the house – “I hate you, get off the phone while I’m on it!” or “No, it’s YOUR turn to mow the lawn!” followed shortly thereafter by “Do you want to watch a movie?” or “Do you want to eat some macaroni and cheese with me?”.

In this, he taught me to forgive and forget so that you can have space for love.

He took care of people. When I was in college, a friend of mine offered to change the oil in my car. My friend was embarrassed that he was unable to find where the oil filter was. I knew my brother would know, so I covered for my friend by calling Nick and telling him that I was changing my oil and couldn’t find the filter. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, Nick was on the other side of the line saying, “Oh my god. Jess. You cannot change the oil in your car. Stop it. You do not know how to do this. Drive to a Jiffy Lube right now.” (And then to a friend nearby) “Can you believe my sister is trying to change the oil in her car? My god.” Even though he was my little brother, he was protective of me. And clearly he did not have a lot of belief in my mechanical skills either. During my wedding weekend, we were having a brunch the morning after the wedding. He accidentally got the location of the brunch wrong and showed up at another fancy brunch spot that morning. When they told him that they did not have a reservation for our wedding party, he immediately asked to speak to a manager because he was not going to let anything mess up his sister’s wedding weekend. He could not believe that this restaurant had lost our reservation! Luckily, we eventually got in touch with him and were able to let him know that, while he was fighting the good fight at that restaurant, we were in the meantime happily dining already at another spot across town.

In this, he taught us to take care of our people. In that spirit, I’d like to share a poem that has taken care of me in the last few days.

The Unfinished
Do not judge a biography by it’s length,
Nor by the number of pages in it.
Judge it by the richness of it’s contents
Sometimes those unfinished are among the most poignant
Do not judge a song by it’s duration
Nor by the number of it’s notes
Judge it by the way it touches and lifts the soul
Sometimes those unfinished are among the most beautiful
And when something has enriched your life
And when it’s melody lingers on in your heart
Is it unfinished?
Or is it endless?

Nick and I were football rivals from the time we were kids. As all children growing up in Alabama do, we had to pick a side. I chose Auburn and Nick chose Alabama. Though I always refused to cheer for Alabama in any situation, Nick wanted to find a middle ground. Though he certainly always wanted his Tide to win, he also wanted Auburn to win anytime that they weren’t playing Bama. He knew that Auburn winning would make me happy, and so he’d cheer for my team as often as he could. I was always staunchly opposed to this idea and could not imagine myself cheering for that other school no matter what. Well, Roll Tide, Brother. I’ll be cheering for your Crimson Tide (as long as they’re not playing my Tigers) because I know you’ll need someone here on Earth doing your cheering for you.

I know that it will be very difficult for my family and I going forward without Nick in our lives. However, I also know that my brother would not want us to be overwhelmed with sadness. He would want us to smile when we remember him, so let’s make him proud and try our best to do that.

Goodbye, Nick. Goodbye, Brother. We will be loving you from afar every single day until we join you.