It is hard to find the words

A tribute to my friend. A eulogy for Travis.

Since his passing, hundreds if not thousands of posts, shares, comments, emojis, and picture updates have hit Facebook. So many have chimed in to extend condolences and stories and accounts of the person Travis was and how deeply he will be missed.

Some have shared his fondness for giving someone a nickname. Years ago, he experimented with my name adjusting the spelling and pronunciation in countless ways before finally settling on “Lewri.”

Only just days ago Travis called me. I was rushing to get out the door that morning and had timing been off, I would have missed that call. I stopped everything, picked up the phone, and welcomed the sound of that deep voice.

“Miss Lewri,” he said through the phone, “I need some help.”

“Anything,” I said.

“I need some help finding the right words. I’m trying to get my thoughts in order and put this message together. I have some ideas but I’m all scattered. You have a way with words—you got good words, Lewri,” he told me.

Maybe so.

The painful reality is there are no words.

No words to ease the heartache of a devoted wife.

No words to offer peace to a family laying their child and brother to rest.

No words to help a young child cope with a life without his father.

No words to offer any level of acceptance or understanding for a life taken too soon and at a time when he was needed and loved the most.

No words to fill the space he consumed within us all.

Shannon asked me to share some words today and I’m honored to be standing here, to attempt to find the ‘right words’ to pay tribute to a dear friend, a wonderful husband and daddy, and an all-around good guy.

Throughout the week, so many have already contested to Travis’ character and the impact he had on those that were lucky to know him. He was genuine, funny, and likeable. He brought people together and was a natural fit in an assortment of friendship circles.

And he had words! Typically those words were coated with wit and sarcasm. But his words were not limited to smartassedness alone. He could carry a conversation, give advice, talk sports, or debate a topic. He had a great laugh and wanted to make others laugh too.

But the Travis that I knew, did not find words that expressed love and feelings very naturally. He tried to play the tough guy that was nauseated by hugs and words of affection. When I would ask if he needed a hug, he’d reply with “Nah, I’m good!” When I’d say, “I’ll see you soon,” he’d respond with “damn skippy you will!” When the GoFundMe effort surpassed expectations, he was humbled. Cody reminded him that the support was a reflection of the quality people that he attracted and a testament to the great person he was. To which Travis replied, “I do surround myself with pretty great people…. like your wife!” When he and Cody would talk on the phone, Cody would always end the call with “I love you” in anticipation of Travis replying with “I love me too.”

The last private message I received from Travis contained two words: Love you. A first in 10 years of friendship which meant so much to me. It also devastated me because I knew he said it because he didn’t want it to go unsaid. He said it because he wanted to say it before he couldn’t.

More powerful than words, Travis had a presence. A presence that spoke for him. A presence that let you know he valued you. A presence that welcomed you in and accepted you. A presence that put those that he loved before himself.

Over the past few months, we have witnessed a man of great integrity and selflessness. He became a planner and a protector and a man on a mission to make the day—the day he was told would come and the days that followed easier. Not easy—easier.

He made the plans and arrangements. He said what needed to be said. He wrote letters. He created gifts and messages to leave behind for those who are left to carry on. And he prioritized time—sweet, precious time. He expended time and energy he didn’t have to prepare us all for this day. I know he wanted to do so much more, have more plans laid, more letters written, and more time.

But there wasn’t enough time.  And now, there are no words.

We have also witnessed a devoted, determined, compassionate, and hopeful wife. Shannon, you inspire me. You are so strong, wise beyond your years, and were the best match and greatest love Travis could ever have to share his days with. He loved you immensely.

My promise to Travis and to you is my unwavering friendship, to embrace you as my family, to keep his memory alive, and support you and Corbin in any way I can.

The richness of our lives is measured by the souls that we share it with. Our lives have been enriched because of him. As was his life by ours. He lived his lifetime surrounded by family and friends. And he was well-loved.

Travis, we were blessed to have you in our lives and our hearts break at losing you.

Going forward, we’ll look for you in the big moments as well as the small.

And damn skippy, I’ll see you again. When I do, there will be sappy words, and smothering hugs.

Rest in peace, my friend. God bless you, and thank you.

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