Today marks 8 years since my brother left this world. I would love to say it has become easier, but it hasn’t. I still think of him every single day and wonder how life would be different if he were still around. I thought getting married and not having him there would be one of my hardest days. What I’ve come to realize is the older I get, the more there are days that go by where I wish he was still here, those days seem like the hardest. It’s hard for me to believe he never had the chance to meet my sister’s husband or my husband. I often sit back and think about how well the three of them would get along. My sister’s husband has the same taste in music and my husband has his same taste in video games. They are such trivial things, but I can only imagine the relationship they would have had with one another.
It’s going to be very hard for me to become a mom. I often think about how I can teach my children about my brother. What stories will I tell them? How will I keep his spirit alive in their lives? I know it won’t be easy, but it’s something that is very important for me to do.
Yesterday, as I was driving along on my way to work–I had one of those weird moments where I felt like my brother was with me. After he passed away I downloaded a bunch of songs that I knew he liked or that just simply reminded me of him. I had my iTunes playing over my radio on shuffle. One by one, each of those songs came on randomly. It was hard for me, but also the best thing ever. It made me feel like he was excited for this little girl in my belly who was also kicking along to his favorite music.
Wherever he may be now, I hope he knows that we miss him dearly in this mortal life. I feel his presence, and will continue to talk about some of my favorite things about him. Here are 8 of my favorites in no particular order:
- I loved the way my brother loved Christmas. I know a lot of people love Christmas, but it was almost like Christmas made him come alive. He always gave me my present early and started the tradition of our sibling Christmas present exchange on Christmas Eve. He loved picking out the perfect Christmas tree with my dad and showing off the fruits of their labor.
- I loved how good my brother was at sports. Everything came so natural to him, which couldn’t be further from the truth for me. He was an amazing football player, lacrosse player, and wrestler. He was a huge dude wrestling 189 lbs, with a 6’2″ stature. I’m a shrimp at 5’2″, so he of course enjoyed pushing me around and I always tried to hold my ground, punching him repeatedly, which never hurt him haha. All until he would pick me up and throw me on the couch.
- I loved how he wanted to keep holidays and believing in Santa, the Easter bunny, tooth fairy, etc. real for me as long as possible. My sister is 5 years older than me and my brother was 7 years older. They obviously found out who Santa was a lot earlier than I did. I will never forget my brother and sister still encouraging me to believe even though I know now they did not.
- I loved how intimidating he could be if I needed him. He was truly the quintessential scary older brother. It was my favorite line of defense if nothing else seemed to resonate.
- I loved how he always included me. When I was younger I used to copy everything my sister did. I still do to this day. She has been an excellent role model for me in so many ways. There was however a period of time where my sister didn’t enjoy my copying and wasn’t completely into having her younger sister tag along. That’s when my brother would include me. I still remember when my parents got him a real lacrosse goal to practice in our backyard instead of practicing against our tree house, which he often did. For one holiday or birthday he got me my own lacrosse stick. I completely sucked, but I still enjoyed trying and playing along. He was shockingly patient as he taught me how to catch and throw. I will forever cherish the times we played catch together.
- I loved having my brother as my drinking buddy. We definitely have some funny drinking memories together. It’s hard to pick my favorite. I think it would be when he came up to PSU prior to my graduation and came with me on my sorority senior bar tour. He went to a smaller school in Rhode Island, so he was super excited to experience the big school bar tour. We had so much fun and have some hilarious photo documentation of that day. One of the strangest things for me was that one of the bars at PSU, Mad Mex, used to scan your ID when you came in and took a picture of you, so you wouldn’t let underage people use your ID. Following my brother passing away, I went back to mad mex and the picture that flashed up on the screen had my brother in the background. It was a crazy moment for me, but then I realized it made me happy to see and think about that memory we had together.
- I loved visiting my brother in Rhode Island. I still remember grumbling to my parents every time we went to Rhode Island because I hated driving through Connecticut. It always felt like we were in Connecticut for years and I remember thinking who would ever want to live in this awful state. Little did I know I would end up marrying the best thing that ever happened to me, who also happened to be born and raised in Connecticut. We would also go on to get married in that awful state, which was the best day of my life, thus far. My feelings on Connecticut have certainly changed and now it will always hold a very special place in my heart. My brother loved living in Rhode Island, especially Newport. I remember him taking me on a walking tour which completely exhausted me, but he was right it was certainly beautiful. The best part was seeing him happy in this life he built for himself. I’ve had to go up to Newport a few times the past couple years for weddings and bachelorettes. I was so nervous to be back without my brother, but I could only remember happy memories—so the trips ended up okay. When my husband and I were up there for a friend’s wedding I wanted to drive by my brother’s old house/apartment. It was hard for me to do, but I just felt like I needed my husband to know where he lived for some strange reason. I’m still glad I drove by, and relived his life for just a minute of mine.
- Although I could probably list a million more reasons…the 8th thing I loved about my brother was his love for animals. I still laugh remembering when he called me to tell me he got a puppy when he lived in Rhode Island. Being that my brother was a huge man, I figured he got a big, strong dog, but nope…he got a Yorkie. He named that little tiny Yorkie Rocco and loved him with all his heart. He would send me pictures of him holding Rocco, who was literally the size of my brother’s ginormous hand. I remember one time visiting my brother up in Newport and he took Rocco for a walk. Watching him walk this little tiny dog made me laugh hysterically after a few too many drinks. It was a great visit and an even better memory.
In closing, let people you love know you love them. Sometimes it may feel weird saying it, but it’s something I wish I told my brother more often. I hope you all have a fun-filled weekend with the people and/or animals that you love the most.
Thanks for reading and have a fun day 🙂