In the Presence of Jesus

One year ago today my stepbrother, Gary Couet, died accidentally at the age of 40–the cocktail of prescription drugs he was on proved to be a toxic mixture that killed him. He left behind two sons (amazing young men) and many others who mourn his loss deeply.

I met Gary when I was about the age of fifteen and he probably thirteen years old, when his mother and my father (who were recently divorced) were about to marry or may have already married one another (can\’t recall, frankly). He lived with his mother and my dad along with his brother until he went off to the Army after high school. Although I never lived in the same home with him, we did intersect somewhat often, especially in those early years.

The things that I loved most about him were:
* his openness: not sure Gary judged anyone, ever. All were always welcome to step into Gary\’s space, he never resented it, and at least as many times as I witnessed it, he seemed grateful for the company.
* his mechanical mind: in a \”chauffeur the step bro about\” moment, I remember being pleasantly surprised when he removed something from my glove compartment that was broken and aptly fixed it, no problem, and he did it with a smile on his face and was obviously relaxed and in his element.
* his generous heart: Gary never had much of anything, but whatever he had was available to any and all that needed it. He helped us move into our first home and as a gift he left two long extension cords that we still use and have today..they were his (have the name \”Couet\” on them) but he wanted to gift us with something. I\’m sure he missed them afterward…Thank you, Gary…
* his conversation, which was always most candid and open one-on-one…
* his love for his boys. There is no way they will ever know how much he really loved and cared about them…just no way…
* his victory. Gary was an overcomer. He, through Christ and the help of others, was released (for a good five years) from alcohol\’s grip before he died.

One way that God brought Gary and I together in a surprising way was through the church he attended: Spirit Garage. It is an outreach church, birthed maybe ten to twelve years ago, designed to reach young adults living in the city. I found out about it through a Christian conference geared to postmoderns–at the time the church was barely up and running, meeting in a comedy club, of all places, without a mailing address, and phone calls were being taken at a local large church\’s office. Through some good old fashioned sleuthing, I was finally able to contact the pastor and told her that this ministry was heavy on my heart and that I felt like I was being called to pray for it. Of course, she was receptive and grateful. I visited Spirit Garage from time to time and, although it is alternative in a multitude of ways, I consistently found the teaching sound, which always made my heart sing. During one of my infrequent visits, I was surprised to see Gary…evidently he was attending regularly. In fact, it ended up being his church…they became his church family–I guess he was there every Sunday. One of the last things Gary ever gave me was a Spirit Garage pen (that had no phone # or address on it, just spiritgarage.org…very cool!), Needless to say, he was pretty taken with this group of believers. I can only hold back the tears when I think that God may have used my prayers to help birth a community that reached, served and loved Gary. I\’ve been blessed over and over at the mere thought of it…

One last thing I loved about him most: his hug. He always engulfed those he hugged…no reservations: just pure heart, just pure Gary. None can compare…

Miss you, Gary, but praise God that you are in the presence of Jesus…please pray for us…look forward to being with you again…

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