A tribute to my little brother

In Loving Memory of Travis Allen Whitaker 


My brother, Travis, died unexpectedly on February 14th.  He leaves behind a wife and 3 beautiful children.  The grief is overwhelming, but I wanted to do something of a "memorial" to him on this blog, especially since we had many pet rats and mice during our childhood.  

Just a quick ramble about Travis: 

Travis had such a beautiful and simple sense of humor.  He died at 33 years of age, but was still very much a child in his heart.  We had an almost idental sense of humor.  We loved to see animals dressed in ridiculous outfits and we'd often write silly stories in which we gave them human personalities, jobs, real life problems etc....   We would laugh at the most bizarre things and delight over the fact that the rest of the world didn't "get it".  Even as adults, we held onto our private jokes, silly memories and mystery nicknames for one another.  Travis loved to make people laugh.  His children were so precious to him; he was a very proud papa.  He encouraged his kids' creativity, passed on his love for nature, animals, and his WACKY sense of humor!  Travis was also a dare devil and his curiosity knew no limits (see EXTREME photo below).  

The photo below was taken just a few weeks before he died.  This is the story (as I understand it):  The city he worked for had plans to outsource a job re: a small repair to this tower.  The other guys didn't feel safe making the climb, or just didn't want to.  My brother laughed at them and said, "I can do that, it's no big deal at all."  Even though he'd never done it before, he began climbing immediately.   His coworkers were shocked and took this photo.  The "tiny" little person at the top of the tower is my brother, having almost reached his destination....


I vividly remember this moment.  It was Christmas Eve and we were anxiously awaiting Santa's arrival.  We had no clue how he was going to come in our house since we didn't have a chimney.  We were discussing all the various possibilities, and hoping like crazy he wouldn't forget to bring our presents!


Travis loved music.  Each day after work, he'd pile his 3 kids in his lap and listen to a song (The Cello Song) by his favorite musician, Steven Sharp Nelson.  We played this piece at his funeral, and it's now my favorite song as well.  It moves me to tears, and inspires hope at the same time.  This musician is absolutely brilliant, he revised the original and instead of playing one cello, he plays 8 cellos' and uses them very creatively.  Please watch the Youtube video and listen to song.  Turn off the t.v., sit down, put your phone on silent and really listen to it.  
Here are a few of my favorite photos of Travis:
We lined up the chairs on our lawn. Travis was the bus driver, eagerly waiting for his first hop on (maybe some of you will get the Arrested Development reference.  Haha!)
2nd grade photo, probably my favorite picture of him.  
Travis doing what he loved best - enjoying nature!
The photo below is from our wacky phases.  I was all punked out, looking like a Vulcan with pink hair and nose ring.  He was all about the Goth life - black fingernails, black hair, black crosses around his neck, etc....I thought he looked silly, and he thought I looked silly.  Looking back, seems we were both right.


And, a few more of my favorite pics....




The next image is a collage that I made for Travis' birthday last year.  It's silly, but it has deep, personal meaning that represents very good memories and some very bad memories in our relationship.   The collage is based on an excerpt from a book called The Reason for God, by Tim Keller.   This (in my opinion) is the most profound sentence in the entire book. "....everyhorrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater."  
Today, a good friend sent me a very sweet email.  She validated my grief and reminded me that even though Travis' death is agonizingly painful, it will get easier over time. She reminded me that there is still beauty in the world and that I will continue to see the beauty Travis brought into this life.  I burst into tears after reading it.  I've never thought of it like that....in some ways, he's not really dead.  His wife and children will always be reminders of Travis.  Because of her email, I wanted to update my "Travis Memorial" with some recent pictures of our beach trip with them.  This was only 2 months after his death, and I clearly see Travis' life in this photos.  
Solomon's 1st interaction with the ocean....he LOVED it! 
This is Isabelle's interaction with the water! 
 The final photo is Malachi (the oldest son) playing with his mom in the water.  Malachi was "undunkable", until his mom got a hold of him.  She's a strong gal!

6 comments:

  1. Angie, I'm so sorry to hear about this tragic loss. I just wept when I heard about it. I know we've already spoken since his death, but reading this tribute just touched me so much. This is no trivial thing at all. I love the collage, it's really beautiful. I know how much you loved Travis, I remember you talking about him all the time. I love you, friend. I wish I could be there with you right now.

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  2. The last time I saw Travis, he was 5 years old. Curly hair and a big smile. I was leaving North Carolina for the last time. On the way out of town, I dropped him off at school. I knelt down and he gave me a big hug and smile then spun around and ran down the hallway to his classroom. He was so happy! I was so sad because I thought that might be the last time I would ever see him. I've thought of that day hundreds of times over the last 26 years. I've always tried to tell myself that someday I would pass through NC again and somehow run into him and see what a great guy he had grown into. Now even that thought is gone. This is so sad. I remember that he loved the Dukes of hazard and the General Lee!! My condolences to his family and he will always be close in everyone's heart. Goodbye little buddy.

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  3. Hi Angie,
    I was looking at some of my old blog posts, saw your comment about the rats/earrings, and clicked on the blog link you left.
    I realize this post is older, but I just wanted to send my condolences--I am so sorry about your brother. I love the photos you've posted of you two. I got a rush of adrenaline when I saw the photo of him fake-strangling you--my heart is still racing. I wrote a flash fiction story several years ago that won a yahoo writing contest, and that photo is almost an exact replication of a photograph I describe in the story. It's like this photo is what I was channeling when I envisioned it for my story--can't explain how odd it is to see a real photo of something I imagined.
    I hope you're doing well.
    Best wishes,
    Richelle

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    1. Hi Richelle, not sure if you'll get this reply, I'll try to find your website again to reply as well. I love this message to me. Thank you so much, I am so intrigued by your the way you related to the photo. It made me smile. I would love to read the story sometime, if you're ever interested in sharing it! By the way, I LOVE my earrings!!! They were even cooler than I expected them to be! I wear them all the time. :)

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  4. Hi Richelle, not sure if you'll get this reply, I'll try to find your website again to reply as well. I love this message to me. Thank you so much, I am so intrigued by your the way you related to the photo. It made me smile. I would love to read the story sometime, if you're ever interested in sharing it! By the way, I LOVE my earrings!!! They were even cooler than I expected them to be! I wear them all the time. :)

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