Letters to My Kids

My Friend, Wayne

In the shadow of your wings, O Lord Almighty, will I take refuge
until the storm of destruction has passed by.
Psalm 57:1

Wednesday evening, March 26th, 2014, my good friend Wayne Burlison went home to be with Jesus. Just six days before his passing, I wrote he and his wife, Lisa, this message:

For the first time since your journey with cancer began, the reality is hitting me: my friend, MY FRIEND!, is enduring this battle. I have never had a friend go through something like this, preparing to see Jesus face to face. I can’t stop the tears right now. They are mostly selfish tears, at the thought of losing you.

Wayne, I am just so thankful that we’ve become friends. I honestly consider you my big brother. I have always appreciated how you talk to me – never looking down on me because I’m younger than you, but seeing me as a peer, a friend. Thank you for that. I love all of the experiences we’ve gotten to share.

We spent two spring seasons in the pit orchestra of the high school musicals – what a privilege to be a part of that group, working hard, but also enjoying lots of laughs.

Running together. I especially remember one of the Friday evening runs when it was just you, me and Shelly S. What a fun, peaceful time that was. I love that we got to run the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon together. I remember rounding that first corner you were just ahead of me and I thought, “I’ve got to catch up to Wayne!” :) I lost sight of you in the crowd, but you were still that inspiration to push me a bit harder.


I appreciate the stock you’ve put in my musical ability and experience with the students. The many times you’ve asked my opinion on a theory book or on a student’s ability level have made me feel valued and a part of something bigger than my piano lessons.

Singing next to you on many worship teams is always a gift. Your encouraging style of leadership made practice so fun and easy going, yet focused on excellence. What a rare combination. :)

So thank you for being like the big brother I never had. You’re an important part of my life, my family, and I love you.


I knew the end was coming quickly for Wayne, having been reading Lisa’s blog updates. I just didn’t want to get the news as I was checking Facebook while on the elliptical yesterday morning. I wanted to be home, where I could let the tears come. But the tears did come, later that morning when I remembered one recent encounter with Wayne.

Just by the way he lived his life, Wayne taught me many lessons. How to lead with humility. How to love your community. How to run in Vibram Five Fingers. And even how to tie my running shoes so the laces don’t come undone. In January I wrote about my love of music and wanting to keep myself growing and challenged to learn new things. Wayne had commented on that blog post:

Got an interesting way to challenge you if you want Melanie! We do a recital together, and you can be my accompanist, and you can also do solo pieces?

I wept as I realized I would never have the opportunity to perform with Wayne; at least in this life.

I have no eloquent way to end this painful post. I have lost a dear friend. His impact on this community is widespread and people are coming to Jesus because of the way Wayne lived even while he was dying.

To live is Christ and to die is gain. 

Philippians 1:21



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