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.
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.
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.
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