Tribute from His Brother

Four years ago my children lost their brother. They lost a friend. The Four Duncan Boys became Three.

As Sgt. Duncan helped take charge of assisting his dad and two brothers clean out Andrew’s apartment just a day after finding out their brother had been killed on a country road in the Panhandle of Texas, my oldest son, who served five years in the Marines and did two tours in the Middle East was brought to his knees by a pair of worn out ballet shoes. He knelt in the middle of his brother’s bedroom and cried.

The morning of the memorial service, he wrote the following:

When I got to the house Tuesday, I was asked what seems like an unanswerable question. Mom came up and asked me, “What do we do now?” And at the time all I could do was hug her. Then she asked another one, “Why did this happen?”

These seem the hardest questions ever to answer. I didn’t sleep for almost three days thinking about these two questions. Then last night it finally came to me. Why? And what do we do now? I finally was shown last night the answers.

When I lost Marines, I could always justify it by saying he had saved someone’s life. But Andrew? How could it be justified? The same way. The answer to these two questions is really one answer.

Everywhere I look I see people talking about how much they love him and how he touched everyone’s life. Well guess what? He’s not done. That is the answer. In life he made everyone’s lives funnier, happier, worth living. Now in death he will do the same thing. His legacy WILL change lives, and it is our responsibility to take that legacy and have it live through us.

That is our charge. That is what we do now. Our lives are not just our own anymore. Andrew always did everything to the fullest. It didn’t matter if he was good at it or not, he still gave it his fullest until he was good at it. Now that his time on earth is over, we must live our lives to the fullest. Whenever we want to give up, whenever we feel like a failure, we must push on. He can’t push on, so we must, do not neglect his legacy. 

So why? And what so we do now? We must push on, make our lives a living memorial, and enable his legacy to continue to change lives. That is our charge, that is the only way we will make it through this. 

I love you brother.

My son David spent the next three and half months sailing the South Pacific with my big brother. He came home, joined the Marine Reserves and went to college. He also began to work on changing areas of his own life.

He now works to help other veterans who struggle with PTSD and the transition to civilian life.

He is an amazing man who still misses his little brother. He uses hard things in his life to spur him to become a better man while always looking for ways to help others along the path to recovery.

I am proud of his service to our country, but I am more proud of his service to God by serving his neighbors.

Note: This Tribute is included in “My Journey through Grief into Grace“.



Read more by Kathleen B.Duncan on Facebook:

Grief, healing, Recovery, support for parents who lost a child, USMC


I write about my life, my journey, my family, and my faith. I am wife to one, mom to seven with one in heaven, and grandmother to many. I am also full-time caregiver to my stepmom E who suffers from dementia due to Alzheimer’s. In my spare time I like to read, travel, crochet, bike, and play with our black pug Molly.

Comments (10)

  • Miss Kathleen ~ I have, once again, been brought to gut wrenching tears only to be filled with hope with what you have shared. You do have a wonderful child in David who is right about continuing the legacy of your Andrew. I am thankful for your David’s service to our country and his continued dedication to his fellow solider while letting the examples of Andrew’s spirit burn bright within him.

    Sincerely yours,

  • What Godly beautiful words your son put to paper – pouring out his heart to share what God had already placed there – basically the command to “Press on” . My son died 3/23/2010 after a very short illness. He was 29 and it was a totally shock. Seven years later I’m still experiencing the effects of Nick’s life and his world of friends remember of him. This is so very very sweet.

    • I’m glad I was not there to witness him holding his brothers ballet shoes. Such love and pain. And so much wisdom. I am a blessed momma. I need to remind myself of that on hard days. 😏

  • You have been a great Mom! Just from reading your son’s post, I know you must be an amazing Mother. I am so sorry for your loss. Nothing hurts like losing a child unless it is watching the other child or children hurting for the loss of their brother. May God continue to bless you and hold you close to Him.

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