So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Happy 37th birthday, little brother.

It’s been 25 years since we last celebrated together.

It’s been said that siblings are like limbs. They are a tangible part of you and help to preserve your history and all of your memories. They are there for every one of your earliest tears and each joy. They are simultaneously your biggest annoyance, strongest ally, and fiercest defender. They are your earliest and often your most impactful peers.

They get you into and, if you’re lucky, help you out of all kinds of trouble. They laugh with you when your parents act crazy (or at least my boys like to laugh at me) and cry with you when you hit a valley. One look from a sibling can encapsulate so many words, inside jokes, and secret directives. They are some of the very biggest parts of your childhood, playing a principal role in all of your imaginative adventures, and taking part in all of your real-life shenanigans.

It’s for that reason that losing a sibling is like losing a limb.

It doesn’t just heal or grow back, you simply learn to live without it. You adapt and move on all the while knowing that something important is missing and certain parts of your life have altogether vanished.

RELATED: Healing After the Death Of a Sibling

Life would have most certainly been both fuller and sweeter with you here. Seeing you get married and loving your children is something I should have been able to do. Jenna and I should be coordinating and planning holidays with your wife, our sister-in-law. My three boys should know you. 

Even now, 25 years later, I still think of you most days.

Usually, it’s a passing funny memory about the four of us siblings sleeping on the trampoline or dancing on the sofa together (remember how Dad blared Huey Lewis every day when he got home from work?). Sometimes I think of how you always agreed to sneak up to my room late at night and watch Clueless with me for the millionth time. You were so sick of that movie, but I loved it and so you obliged.

There are also some days when our collective missing of you and what your life should have been seems insurmountable.

RELATED: The Club I Never Wanted to Join

But today, on your 37th birthday, I choose to:

Appreciate that you would always play any character I asked you to in the plays I so often wrote and directed (you were the BEST Sampson, especially when the Philistines “were upon you”).

Smile, remembering that you were as stubborn (a trait you for sure passed on to at least one of your nephews as it surely didn’t come from me) as you were loving and as funny as you were mischievous.

Love that although we fought just like my boys do, we always made up quickly.

And that after one spat you came and apologized. We were both equally to blame but you said we were too important to each other and as the oldest boy you wanted to set the example of making amends.

Treasure that last Valentine’s card you gave me, that you wrote paragraphs in. You would have made such a great husband and father.

RELATED: My Brother – I Miss Him Each Day

Laugh remembering how embarrassed you were when one of your friends told me (in front of Mom and Grandmommy) that you’d been voted “cutest butt” in the sixth grade. One of your superpowers were the dimples that lit up your smile. Your charm game was strong.

Trust that I’ll see you again someday and thank God for that promise.

We should all be getting together to celebrate your birthday with our parents and our children, but we aren’t.

We should have a full bank of birthday memories with you rather than only 12, but we don’t.

We should have frozen time back then until we figured out a way to change the way the world turned, but we couldn’t.

However, what we will do is the only thing we can. We will remember and celebrate you. And despite our sadness, we will choose joy and to be grateful for the 12 years, 6 months, and 5 days we had together.

Happy birthday, little brother. I love and miss you.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Hillary Adams

Hello, I’m Hillary. I'm a Christian, a wife, a boy mom, a writer, a talker, and a Baylor Bear (sic ‘em!). As an extroverted Enneagram 7, there are many things I really love, however none more than Jay, my husband of 15 years and our three wild and crazy sons. Long story short, I'm the mom you want to talk to when your kids do the things you can't tell your other friends about. We all need a mental health day. But for now, you can find me at www.lighternoteshow.com where Hayley and I write about this incredible and tragically hilarious life we love and cherish . . . but also from which we need to take the occasional break.

How Grateful I Am for a Mother Who Believed in Me

In: Cancer, Grief
Mother and grown daughter, color photo

It was a hot summer day sometime in the middle of high school. I was young and naive, but the ugly six-letter word was looming over our family: cancer. Although I didn’t know it then, this would be our last normal summer before my mother’s health would worsen. Cancer would give way to terminal cancer. It’s funny how something so big can seem so small in those moments. My mom and I were sitting on our back porch, encased in a narrow hedge of yew bushes. It was a yellow, lazy Saturday, and my brothers and father were at Cub...

Keep Reading

A Medical Diagnosis Challenges a Marriage

In: Cancer, Living, Marriage
Bald woman holding clippers over husband's head, color photo

It is no secret now that Albert Pujols and his wife have announced their divorce shortly after she had surgery to remove a brain tumor. As a breast cancer survivor, this news hit me in a special way. As I was reading through an article from Today, there was a quote that hit me hard, “But a marriage falling apart is far more common when the wife is the patient, researchers have found. A woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a diagnosis of cancer or multiple sclerosis than if a man in the relationship is...

Keep Reading

Dear Grandmother, I’m Not Ready to Lose You

In: Grief
Elderly woman and granddaughter touch foreheads

I had a visit from my grandmother the other day. It wasn’t a regular sit on the porch with a cup of tea kind of visit. It was more of an “I have something I need to tell you” type of visit. She’s been unwell for some time, and I guess I had sort of hoped she would get better, and she would be back to herself soon enough. I noticed when she sat down and tears filled her eyes that it wasn’t going to be a normal conversation. Her eyes widened and she struggled to get her words out without...

Keep Reading

Love Carries On in the Ones We Raise

In: Grief, Motherhood
Mother and son hug

From a very young age, two of the most important men in my life were my grandpa and my brother. I never could have imagined that I’d lose them both within nine months, nor could I predict the profound effects the magnitude of those losses would have on my life. My grandpa was my father figure and shepherd. I have endless memories of him— from splashing in the ocean together to shopping each Easter season for my Easter dress. He was always there. Every choir concert, musical, or school ceremony, I could easily find his face in the crowd. I...

Keep Reading

Friends Can Be a Sanctuary

In: Friendship, Grief
Group of friends hugging

A sanctuary is defined as anywhere people go for peaceful tranquility or introspection. My friends became my sanctuary when my husband, Frank, died. They became my refuge and my safe place. Friendship is one of the most wonderful gifts in this world. It is beautiful, comforting, ever-changing, and, for me, a fixed point.  My friends seemed to know exactly what I needed and when I needed it. Their love and constant support got me through the worst of times and gave me the courage and confidence I needed to move forward.  I could never give an adequate thank you to...

Keep Reading

All I Wanted Was For My Baby To Stay Alive

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman with head in hands

Today is the day I’ve dreaded and resisted for almost a year: the day I face going through the white plastic bag the hospital sent home with me after my D&C, 10 months ago. This bag held my clothes, shoes, and wedding ring for the short time I was in surgery, but I rescued all of those precious items soon after waking. The items that remain show the paper trail of that difficult day—receipts from my hospital admittance and anesthesia, general post-operative care instructions, and a consent form for “treatment of incomplete abortion.” That last part brings tears to my...

Keep Reading

My Husband Makes Me a Stronger Woman

In: Grief, Loss, Marriage
Daddy standing over hospital crib with infant, black-and-white photo

A little over a year ago, my husband and I went through the unimaginable. We lost our child, Lillian, to a congenital heart defect. The days following that, and even to this day, people will comment on how strong I am. How well I’ve dealt with this darkness. How they can’t imagine what I am going through. The truth is I was never alone. From the day we found out I would give birth to a child who had complex heart defects, my husband has been there. Always in the background of what others saw but ever so present in...

Keep Reading

Mothers Don’t Teach Us How To Live Life Without Them

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss, Motherhood
Woman in dress with corsage, smiling color photo

When you’re a little girl, you dream of marriage, children, a career, and memories that you will cherish forever—and you want your mother by your side at all times. Our mothers teach us how to live a life we will enjoy, but they never teach us how to live a life without them in it. Our mothers don’t tell us that one day they will not be here to answer the phone when we call or go on spontaneous dinner dates. My mother never told me there will come a day when she will be gone and how bad it...

Keep Reading

When Mother’s Day Feels Awkward, Find Comfort in Community

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood

Mother’s Day can be beautiful for some women. It can be hurt filled for others. Or in my case, it can just feel plain old awkward. I felt eight years of awkward Mother’s Days. In my late 20s to mid-30s, I felt like the woman no one knew what to say to or what to do with. I felt a double whammy on Mother’s Day. My mother was home in Heaven. My womb was empty and always would be. My desire to have a child was filled with an intentional choice to go a non-traditional route to motherhood and was...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Mother’s Day Hurts

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother holding baby near grave, black-and-white photo

I see you moms. I see the moms who will never see all of their children together on this earth at the same time. The moms who dread the question, “When are you having children?” or “Will you have any more?” The moms who pray for that second line, month after month. The moms who are seeing that positive test and don’t know how they are going to make this work. The moms who can’t shake the blues or depression, who feel guilty for not feeling happier about their baby. The moms who feel as though they are doing it...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections