On the 34th anniversary of our brother’s death.

Updated: August 8, 2017Mom's text on 30th anniv. of Larry's death


Mom’s early morning text four years ago jolted me awake. I pictured all five of us kids getting her message at the same time. Her words caused us to stop and remember and to never forget.  We lost our little brother, Larry Lynn Doran, thirty-four years ago today. He was driving home from fishing at Navajo Lake up in northern New Mexico when his ’67 powder blue Mustang left the road and changed our lives forever. We will never know why.

Larry was eleven days away from turning twenty-one. Our hope is that he didn’t suffer. He had a caring soul and a quiet sense of humor. Shy as a boy, he was just coming out of his shell and finding his way in the world. Seems like yesterday all six of us kids were together – cheaper by the half dozen – opening Christmas presents or fidgeting and teasing each other unmercifully in church.

Larry - Version 2At Dad’s funeral in May 2013, I heard lots of sniffles during the slideshow whenever Larry’s photo appeared. Although his physical presence has been gone from this earth for thirty-four years, I feel him sometimes late at night when the wind blows through the trees. Dad and Larry are together now, and our family takes comfort in that.



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Author of the novels The Final Salute, Johnnie Come Lately & Seven Wings to Glory. Former contributor to Family Circle Magazine and Military Times. Future work represented by agent Diane Nine, Nine Speakers Inc.

58 thoughts on “On the 34th anniversary of our brother’s death.”

  1. Thank you, Kathleen, for such a touching post. It’s so difficult to lose our loved ones. Two years ago, my best friend of 30 years passed away. She wasn’t my sister by blood, but we were soul sisters at heart. I still miss her every day. Sometimes, I could swear I hear that laugh of hers…….

    1. Dear Joy – I’m so sorry about the loss of your friend and how she was your “sister” even though not by blood relations. I know what you mean about how you can still hear her laugh. That speaks volumes about her character and personality.

  2. Thank you for sharing your family’s story. The pain of loss lessens with time, but love never dies. The spirits of your father and brother will always be with you.

  3. I lost a little brother in childbirth, and although I never knew him, I miss his presence just the same. It would be so very difficult to lose a sibling you had grown to love. But knowing that they are in heaven is the only peace we can find. Thinking of you today and praying for a peaceful heart. Love to you, Kathy. Nita

    1. Hi Nita – Thanks for telling me about your brother. I get the part about how you miss his presence even though you never knew him. I believe in soul connections across time and space and within families. Love to you.

    2. We lost my daughter 35 years ago in June. She would have been 21. She and her husband of three weeks were both killed in an auto accident.
      It was painful.for my son, who was 15. He was my first concern. We had lost his father five years earlier.
      Those losses affected the rest of our lives, but God is good. We have been blessed in so many ways. We are thankful for the time we had and the memories we share.

      1. Dear Bonnie,

        I had no idea what loss you have suffered. To lose your precious daughter and at such a tender age. My heart goes out to you.
        Thanks you for taking time to read my tribute to Larry.


  4. Always missed, always loved. He sounds so special. I know he’s filling your heart today. Sending blessings.

  5. “Grief, like joy, is finite. But love, ah well, love is infinite.” — “Your Gift to Me”

    That infinite love is what you sense as the wind ruffles the leaves in the trees…and what you feel sometimes late at night …

    ILY, Kathleen.

    I wish I had known your sweet Larry.


  6. Kathy, I am so sorry for your loss. I know the pain of losing a younger sister expectantly. It never stops hurting, but the good thoughts come back. God bless you and I hope you are comforted by the good memories of him. Frank

  7. For a family, it’s always as if there’s a piece missing and you view every situation from the missing persons’ viewpoint. It’s the incompleteness that stays with you. Thinking of you, my friend on this trying day.

    1. Dear Barbara – YOU HAVE BEEN THERE, too! As you well know, time and distance do indeed ease the pain, but there is still a huge hole that no other person can fill. Blessings to you and Paul and the kitties.

  8. Thirty years. All of his adulthood. He will forever be on the brink of becoming who he might have been. Your memory keeps him present, Kathy. Your writing keeps him alive in your heart and in ours. Hugs and love to you.

    1. Dear Leila – Your words ring with such truth. “Thirty years. All of his adulthood. He will forever be on the brink of becoming who he might have been.” Wow, you two sentences say exactly how I feel. Thank you for putting into words how I feel. Such insight. Love to you.

  9. There are some things in life that can be pulled out of our hands, but never our hearts, it sounds like your family was knitted together in love! That is a strong love that endures! God bless you and your family!

  10. Writing about it helps others deal with loss–loss is universal and these words allow us to deconstruct our sadness and take a hearty look at it. Thank you for sharing a beautiful memory and sadness.

    1. Dear Cynthia – From one writer to another, you totally get why I must write about certain subjects. Even though I no longer shed too many tears over Larry, I’ve certainly had my days of tears. I love him today as much as yesterday even though I haven’t spoken to him in all these years. I still “talk” to him, and I “hear” him answer me. Some might say it’s only the wind…but I feel him. I love how you say “allow us to deconstruct our sadness and take a hearty look at it.” Yes, I think that’s our job as writers. Thank so much and I am so happy about the success of your latest collection.

  11. Such a lovely tribute to a young man lost way too early. I cherish the memories of my brother, thankful that I had him for 56 years in my life, before cancer took him too soon. Being adopted together, though not biologically related, we were close and I was so thankful to put our memories to paper as you have.

    LB Johnson (otherwise known as “little sis”)

    1. Hey “Little Sis,”

      Thanks so much for your heartfelt comments about my brother’s death. My heart goes out to you, also. I’m so glad you have captured his memory on paper so he lives on in story and memories.


  12. Oh Kathleen. As sad as I am for you and your family you have comforted me. My biggest fear is my family will forget that my little brother ever lived. He was murdered 16-years ago. I take comfort knowing you and your family still remember and honor your little brother.
    It never stops hurting and never stops feeling like someone is missing does it?

  13. Oh, Kathleen, my heart aches for you. A tragic loss. Such nice words in tribute to your brother. I lost mine when he turned 34, on his birthday, almost to the exact time of birth. The sorrow never ceases, we just learn to deal with it in different ways…

    1. Dear Sylvia,

      Oh my…to lose your beloved brother and on his birthday. Sometimes life just does not seem fair. I am so glad
      you shared your story with me. We will find strength in each other.


  14. One of the ways I tried to use to get up and running again is this thought. Warren was just 5 years old when his birth father died, so my logic was, I had Warren for 36 years and his Dad only 5. Now they are together again and I had to learn to be happy about sharing him with his Dad and his Heavenly Father. Not an easy task but about 10 1/2 years after Warren left us I was able to thank the Lord from the bottom of my heart for sharing Warren Scott with us for 36 wonderful years, and my heart found a semblance of peace. Love and prayers for you and your family.

    1. Dear Beth,
      Your words touch a special place in my heart. You are part of our nightly prayer as we stand below a cross and the red bird print you gave me and say grace before supper. Love to you always.

  15. Kathleen, how odd our lives are tied together. I also had a older brother named Larry that was killed in a car accident at the same age. You are so right. It changes your life forever. I often think about him and wonder what if. He never had the chance to marry (was engaged when he died) never had children or lived life. Hugs to you today as you honor your brother.

  16. Kathleen, this struck such a cord in my heart today. You lost your brother 34 years ago and my brother died on his 34th birthday, just minutes short of the actual time he was born. Every time I hear the number 34 it instantly brings me back to that moment in time. I’ve never gotten over the loss, I don’t think we ever do, we just deal with it differently as time passes. And as I age I find that dealing with the loss of a loved one becomes more difficult, as each year that passes, drives home the point that physical life is finite. I sympathize with you and your family…

    1. Sylvia,
      Your brother’s death on his 34th birthday is so sad, and within minutes of the actual time he was born. Now when I see the number 34, I will think of your brother. I’m thinking of you too, friend.

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