I nearly forgot your birthday.
I might have forgotten it if Sister hadn't texted me asking what day it was--today or tomorrow? It's November 3rd, I told her.
You would be 52 years old today...exactly twice my age. I would be calling you to wish you Happy Birthday, and tease you about how ancient you were getting. Which would remind me how old I am getting. Time has a way of shuffling on, doesn't it? I'm thoroughly engaged in a life of perpetual studenthood and you...what would you being doing? Would the fertilizer business have taken off? Would the vending machine business have expanded to the point where you didn't have to do yard service and hauling (I know those were getting harder for you as you got older)?
It's hard to know.
How different would life be if you were still here? Would Mom be retaining some semblance of sanity? Would you still live in that place we built, that place we built as a family, with our hands? Would you even still be with Mom? All I can say is that you were a stronger person than I would have been, staying with someone who wouldn't let you make her happy for years and years. Would Grandpa and Grandma seem as old as they do now? What would you think of your first grandchild, Brother's son? What would you think of LOML? Would you two get along as fantastically as I think you would?
If there was anything I could have done to make you stay, I would have. I'm sure if your own pain wasn't so great you might have stayed longer, given tomorrow another go.
The nightmares seared on the underside of my eyelids don't return as much as they used to, and I don't see you in my dreams so much anymore, with you not understanding why I'm so sad when I see you, or trying to convince me that the whole thing isn't real and you're just a phone call away.
You want to know the ironic thing? For years I struggled with depression. I'm sure you didn't know. I took pains to not let anyone else know. It was five years. Five years of feeling the world collapse in on me and pushing the walls back. Finding a reason for tomorrow.
Then those feelings started fading. It felt as though I was coming out of a cave. Tomorrow was worth living for, but today is also.
Three months later, you succumbed to the depression and to the physical sickness the doctors couldn't name, and you shuffled off this mortal coil.
I don't blame you for what happened. I don't blame God for what you did. I might blame Mom a little, frankly. I'm sure it wasn't easy for you, either. Maybe there's no one to blame, and what happened, happened, and that's the way of things.
Just want you to know I love and miss you and I plan to see you again someday.