For Kole

Emma Swartz essays

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My brother Kole and I could not have been more different. He was an astounding, physical specimen, at 6’5 he participated in Football and Basketball; I, at an astoundingly average 5’8, participated in Drama and Choir. Despite us being polar opposites of each other we were best friends. I have memories upon memories of us talking long into the night, about everything and anything. When he finally went off to college it was hard. He was fulfilling his dream of becoming a University of Montana Grizzly so I was beyond happy and proud of him. Still I missed him. It was strange to have such a large presence in my life, someone I saw every day, suddenly only communicating through text. But we always made up for lost time every Sunday when he came home for dinner. In the early morning of March 15, 2015 my brother was in an accident involving a firearm and he lost his life. My family suffered and is still suffering immeasurable grief; to lose a son, a brother, a nephew, a grandchild, a best friend, the love of your life is something that no one can explain until they have experienced it themselves. But the amount of people that suddenly showed up at my home in the middle of the night, made me take a step back and think to myself ‘People loved him, and they love us too’. For the next two weeks, my home was full of people. People to talk to, or to just sit with, people bringing food or pictures of Kole we had never seen before and now treasure. Over the course of those two weeks I learned who in my life truly cared about me and my family, and the number was greater than I had ever imagined. But when I look back now, and I put aside all the grief, and the sadness, and the hurt, the one thing I learned from this life changing experience is that we are truly, better together.

Emma gave this beautiful eulogy for her brother:

For Kole’s 12th birthday he got a bike. The morning after he got it we both woke up early and sat on the floor of our kitchen and watched the sunrise. All he did was talk and all I did was listen. That bike wasn’t really just a bike, it was hope, and freedom, and anticipation for the future. All of the sudden he was free to roam most of our neighborhood. That morning he talked about his friends, the future, high school, college and everything after that. He was going to be a football star, he was going to lead his team to victory in high school and roam around Missoula, hopefully in a car. And he was going to be a Grizzly. And he did all of that. He was a football star, people he didn’t even know would stop him in the grocery store to talk football. He lead his team to victory, maybe not on the scoreboard, but he made sure everyone worked hard, he mentored the players younger than him and was never afraid to give advice. He was a University of Montana Grizzly, too. This achievement was the one that had the biggest influence on him. All of the sudden it was him looking up to players on the team, not the other way around. He made new friends and brought them home for dinner and UNO on Sundays, and over time they came to be my friends too. Some time in December, he drove me home from a choir concert and we stopped in the parking lot of Taco Bell and talked for hours. He talked about the same things we talked about that morning on the kitchen floor. Friends, high school, college and everything after that. Only this time he talked about my friends, my high school career, my college dreams and everything after. He told me that no matter what he would always be there for me and we even came up with a secret sign that meant “I’m on my first date, you need to go away!” But the one thing that I will carry with me forever that he told me was “Emma, you can do anything. As long as you never give up, you will be the best.” We all love him so much and we all miss him so much but I think that he’s still here. He’s in the wind, and the sun, and the river, and the mountains and the sky. He’s the strength you feel on the field, or the court, or every day. We called him Kole Train because no one can stop him, and no one can. And now we all have the biggest, most athletic angel watching over us.


About the Author

Emma Swartz

Emma Swartz is a native Missoulian, and is currently a sophomore at Hellgate High School. She hopes to one day make the world a better place with words.

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May 2015 – Better Together
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