Tink is very excited for her Uncle's Birthday. Even more enthusiastic than usual. Possibly, she senses she should pick up the slack. As my brother's 30th birthday, has left the rest of us, slightly melancholy.
To lose your sibling to a mental illness, feels a little like a long death. You tip-toe softly. You learn to pretend and alter your own truth. To tuck away your memories. You carefully choose your words and actions. I often walk into my parents home, feeling prepared. Ready. Guarded.
Occasionally, I see a glimpse of him. A brief moment in his smile, or a joke shared about our parents. And my heart rushes with joy. Though, almost immediately, it again feels heavy with the loss.
Today, I feel sad. Today, I really miss my brother.
I wish, I was throwing him one of my fabulous parties. I wish I was spending my morning on the phone with his wife... keeping birthday secrets and planning little surprises. I wish I had bought a funny gag gift, or matching shirts for my children and his children to wear. I wish I had written a speech. I wish, I was writing a blog, that would not make me cry.
Ten years ago, I told my brother he would be an Uncle. Today, he has 1 nephew and 2 nieces who are coloring birthday cards, choosing cute outfits, discussing what hair ponies Uncle would like and singing 'Happy Birfday Uncle" over and oBer....
This past decade, has not been all sadness.
Today, I will focus on that.
At least... I will try....
In the last 11 years:
* My brother has traveled. He spent 9 months living in Arizona. He camped and cliff dived, on a mountain in Sedona. He hiked the Superstition. He swam in the Pacific surf with wild dolphins.
* He moved from his hometown, to start over. He has met new friends and reconnected with family.
* He continued to be a friend. When others were not. He remained loyal, kind and very forgiving.
* He tends to his home and his dog. His little piece of world. He prepares his space as his own apartment.
* He cares for himself. Which is so much more than many others who suffer. He attends his appointments, acknowledges his illness and takes his medication.
* He has been a groomsman and a brother-in-law.
* He has attended sporting events. For Coach, friends, college teams. He is happily The Kid's biggest fan.
* Because mostly. He is an Uncle and a God-father. Which will be his legacy. Public events, make him very uncomfortable. And yet, for the love of his nephew, he arrived early at the hospital to meet his boy. He proudly served his duty at a recent First Communion. He danced at our Happy Celebration. He will squeeze into a crowded Saturday morning Grade School Gymnasium, for a child's basketball game.
* Above all, his illness affords him the ability to remain a Buddy. He will play cars on the floor. He will read Coco a children's book, repeatedly. He will spend a lazy afternoon, drawing chalk castles for a bossy Tink.
My brother, is no longer mine. He has not been, for a long time. He reserves his love for my children. And I can not be jealous of that one saving grace. Thank-you, for being The Kid's past. For teaching him kindness. For loving him, so unconditionally.
Happy 30th Birthday, to my brother.
I will never, not feel the loss of your laugh.
I regret each time you annoyed me. Every time I yelled to "get out of my bedroom". The last time you really tried to hug me and I was too 'High-school'. The Christmas Eve, I rudely explained it was no longer cool to sleep on my floor. My long list of "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda's"... are filled with you.
Lord I miss Daniel, oh I miss him so much
Daniel my brother you are older than me
Do you still feel the pain of the scars that won't heal
Your eyes have died but you see more than I
Daniel you're a star in the face of the sky