I miss you more today than I did then. A child with a sad heart is different than an adult with a mature one. There were things that happened along the way that I never understood, things I thought I never could understand, but somehow always knew if you’d have been here, they’d be easier. Things you’ve missed that I’ve been angry with you for. Things you’ve missed that I’ve been glad you weren’t there for. And memories that aren’t the same with you to laugh at, smile at, hold us at…
My memories of you grow more faint by the minute, more distant by the hour, like a remoteness that sometimes is unbearable as I watch life unfold without you in it. You were my age when you were
killed blown up. In my darkest days, I imagine my life has “blown up” and I’m reminded that it’s hardly the case, for me it goes on, because of you, it has to go on…. You taught me reality without being here. Some of the highest values, you taught me: life, love, humility…things I’ve never forgotten, things that have changed me for the better. And here we are… ten years later.
the thirteen year old me..
No one approves of you. And what are you doing taking my sister-cousin with you? Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here? and why are you trying so hard?
But oh how I want to like you. Because you are kind. and you love her. You love her like a love from a movie. and you make us laugh. **and writing this is so much harder**
and I’ve lost this battle to keep my sister-cousin ours because you were made for her. you were made for us…
You took me to Malibu (that go-karting place). Remember that? That’s when you taught me who my true friends are; I was telling you about that one girl… and that was the first big-brother-cousin-in-law advice you gave… there was so much more afterwards too. You taught me how to be a true friend to others too. Somewhere, I still hear you questioning why I was saying what I was about others. Somewhere, I can still hear you challenging me the way most brothers do. And somewhere, I can still feel you holding me as I cried because my feelings were hurt. Because that was you….with something right behind that would make us laugh; not just any laugh either, the gut kind of laugh that would have our stomachs hurting…but barely can I still hear your laugh. because it’s been ten years.
So I focus on the other things. The things that wipe these tears that fall with each letter typed… the time you met my first boyfriend. And you said he was “a cool guy.” He was… but not as cool as you. Because my sister-cousins boyfriend was the coolest. And though I haven’t always hit the nail on the head, one thing has always remained. and that’s the way I need to be loved. Because you were made for her. and you lived it out, then, even now. And Buddy for you to know you were made for her, oh that I would know I’m made for someone too. That he might have been made for me too; to love me the way you loved her. To be the next closest thing to the coolest. To be the one that challenges me, holds me, humors me, laughs me, loves my parents the way you loved my aunt…to love me the way you loved her…
and there’ve been a few. Buddy, there have been. a. few. Ones you would have told me to get the hell away from. Others that you would have mourned over with me. and a couple that you would have welcomed into this family with opened arms. But you couldn’t because you’re gone. And I’m still angry you’re gone. even ten years later.
But here’s something where the time has diminished the anger. Our last conversation. and even now, it’s too hard to write, but it’s time…ten years later. It grew me up more than I ever thought it could. ten years later. I always said you yelled at me because it was too late to be calling. But Buddy, you didn’t yell. You were perturbed. And at 27, when someone calls me too late, I’m perturbed too. 10 o’clock is too late for us old fogies. but some how today I can chuckle at that. But I didn’t then. and my feelings were hurt. But mom made me “talk” to you three weeks later. she “made” me hear your voice that one last time. but I didn’t speak. I chose not to speak. and I’ve regretted that moment ever since. You told me how much you loved me, how proud you were of me… and I didn’t say it back. I could have said anything, but I didn’t, except “good-bye.” Because I was mad… and petty. and young.
Over and over and over again, I replay that conversation. Every time I see your picture. every time I see hear your name. Every time I feel you in the warm embraces of your parents… And I think what else could I have said. Today, if you were here and we could talk about anything, what would I say? But I can’t, I just can’t… but Buddy, I just really wish I could have said thank you. Because you’ve been our everything. even now. ten years later. And you already knew I loved you. You already knew I was proud of you too… ten years later though, the sting isn’t any less intense. and I’m sorry.
I’m wiping tears because I know you knew that. But I didn’t say it then, when it mattered. I see your pictures, and my heart grows weary. Too soon am I reminded that you’re not ours anymore, you’re His and I’m jealous. You’re His and though we’re assured He is a lot better than us… you’ve missed so much. and I hate that. I freakin’ hate it.
I hate that you weren’t here for my first real heartbreak to assure me life would continue, and that love would come bigger and better. I hate that you weren’t here to help me add “friend” to the big-brother-cousin-in-law status.. I hate that you weren’t here for my college graduation to scream my name as I walked across the stage. I hate that you weren’t here for my first legal drink. My first grown-up job. My tonsillectomy. My car getting a flat tire. And I really hate that you weren’t here for my quarter-life crisis. No. I really just hate that you’re not here for my life. I really hate that. so. freakin’. much.
But someone else was. Ten years later. And in his independence, I see traces of you in the way he makes us laugh, the way he holds us when we’re weary, and ultimately, the way he loves her too. the way he loves their children. and I’m learning still, from him too. and I really love him a lot too. It’s hard not to… my sister-cousin, she’s won. again.
In these 10 years, I think I’ve found more understanding of the term “not moving on, but going on” because it’s really all we can do. And with that though, we have an awakened sight that we never would have known without you having been ours. Instead, we’ve moved with you…We go through this life noticing the smaller things that you would have appreciated: the little ugly critters that run across the side walk, inconvenience that’s still part of God’s timing, the honestly, surprised faces on Christmas morning….but we appreciate them more, like a second chance, and we have no choice but to go on because that’s what you would have done, and that’s what you would have wanted. And as we do, we keep this one thing in mind- everything is a bigger gift because of you. This day is a bigger gift because of you. And her girls are a bigger gift because you’re in her and she’s in them. and him; their life is lovely and chaotic and everything as it should be– a greater gift, because of you.
but we miss you. oh, Bud, we miss you so much. The days are longer this time of year when they should be shorter…and the pain of your absence pauses us as it did that day, January 27, ten years ago. For the first time in ten years, I read this page in my journal… the most appropriate way to close…
February 10, 2004: I sat in-between mom and dad in the limo, and seeing those silent tears fall down her face. My sister is a widow. She’s 25 and a widow…God hold her and bless her and fulfill your promise of a prosperous future (Jer. 29:11) even now, when it’s the farthest thing from our imaginations.
….hearing those gun shots, that stung. That stung deep into our souls as we stared into the distance realizing that where we would now find you would be among the white tombstones, so many white tombstones. So, we held hands as if we were holding each other’s hearts…as if it were you holding our hearts–
and ten year’s later, you’re still holding our hearts… our love is forever yours.