Friday, August 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Little Brother

Today my mind and heart run very much back in those days I spent with you, Little Brother. I made my first cheesecake while I have been reflecting on those bittersweet memories. Wonder of wonders, it came out beautifully! Mostly, if I could visit with you today, I think I'd ask you a lot of questions--things I never thought to ask you while you were alive and I expected we'd have endless days together. Questions like: which do you prefer, sunset or sunrise? Do you remember your first kiss? Was it magic? What was your happiest memory? Your favorite food? Movie? Book? Just talking about any one of those would keep us busy for hours, wouldn't it? Remember how we could talk? I don't think I ever knew another man I could talk to as easily or as long as I could talk to you, Mike. I miss our talks! I'll never forget that last marathon talk we had--walking around a mall that June when I was pregnant with Meggie. I don't know how many times we went around before I begged you to sit down. And then we still sat and talked some more. I can still see you coming down the hall the next day to say "Good-bye" before you left on your float trip. I can see you 4 months later after Meggie was born. At least you saw her -- once -- before you died. And I saw you that one last time at Mom and Dad's house. You were very quiet that night. You always were quiet in groups; you only opened up when it was just the two of us.

You are a kindred spirit, Mike, and there aren't many of those.

Here are some of my collected memories of you....tiny baby...little boys are different...sunken the hospital for surgery...blood everywhere...bloody bandages...cutting proud flesh...watching Mom and Dad treat you made me never cried...wanting to touch hold you...growing little boy...riding his tricycle...freckles on his nose...y-shaped scar on his chest...underweight...quiet little boy...sweet smile...shy...sandy hair...young skinny...Mom fed you shakes trying to make you gain weight...always wore a t-shirt to cover the scar...loved boats...and books...Daddy's helper...loved to make and build...built a boat...took it to the leaked but it still floated...learned your bad words from Dad...beginning to grow up...and experiment...mistakes...and changing...graduation from high school...Navy...Florida...visit your oldest sister in Homestead...Chicago and Idaho...Bremerton...a special truck...ships and submarines...Air Force verses Navy officers...Mom and Dad's 25th wedding were the big surprise...they didn't know you were coming...your joke about Rod being like Dad...your plans to come to England...letters...a special book gift...getting out of the Navy...going to and old friends...Rolla...helping Mom and Dad move...and fix up their new guru, home...will you be the godfather for my new baby?...our last long walk and talk...float trip...telephone call...why does everyone try to tell you that you don't mean what you say?...last time I saw weren't there...went looking for you...never found you...never found out where you were or why you didn't come...left for Louisiana the next day...2 days later I learned you were dead...

Happy Birthday, Little Brother! I do not know why your life had to end so soon, but I have accepted it. I rarely cry now when I think of you. Instead I get a sweet, happy feeling about a life transformed. I used to think you 'missed' out on so much--marriage, children, a career, travel, etc. Now, instead, I think that -- for whatever reason -- God just graduated you early. Whatever joys we know here are not denied in the next life, they are multiplied and magnified. You are happy--especially when we strive to be happy for you.

Today, I made my first cheesecake. It came out perfectly. Tonight I'll share it with your brother-in-law and your two nieces, who are also your goddaughter and your namesake. Happy Birthday, Little Brother!

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