I am here at the counter again, sitting on the barstool where one of my favorite pictures was taken of you. Your sister took it. You are getting ready to sip your hot tea. You look like you are just about to smile.
One of your most endearing qualities has always been the way you loved your sister. She annoyed you at times, amazed you at others and often goaded you to do things that you might not have considered. You knew that you belonged together, regardless of your differences. I don’t know if you begrudged her tagging along with your friends and you in some of your more benign adventures. It never appeared that you resented it.
I remember your exasperated voice, when she had done something that you did not want her to. I also remember your praise and admiration of her.
She has always loved you. She claimed you – my wa-wa being one of the first phrases in her vocabulary. There is the video of the two of you in her bed room as you teach her do-ra-me on the xylophone. ” I could teach her anything” you proclaim to the camera. You both learned a lot from each other.
During your teenage years, as you pulled away from us and she in turn did the same, I remember you spinning off separately from each other. Turbulent years, for a variety of reasons, your dad and I held on tight trying to figure out how to guide you both. I can’t say either one of you made it easy. We were inexperienced with teenagers.
When she was diagnosed with leukemia you stepped up. I know you wanted to go away to college, but you stayed here. You had your own problems because of the prank you and your friends pulled. Your steady presence helped us in so many ways. Your inner turmoil was hidden from us. You spared us. Thank you for all your support and help during those years. I am glad I had opportunity to thank you personally.
When you moved to Colorado we all were happy for you. Your sister was still experiencing some turbulent years. After her chemotherapy for 2 and 1/2 years she had some catching up to do and she did, with a vengeance. She helped me move you to Colorado.
I look back with such fond memories to that trip. As hard as it was to drive away leaving you at the condo, to continue settling in on your own, it also felt good. Your sister and I continued our trip up through Wyoming and into South Dakota. We visited national monuments, exploring places neither of us had ever seen before.
That is how it has been raising both of you. I feel like it has been such a great adventure because just being with you was like exploring places I had never seen before. You allowed me a glimpse of how it might be to see the world through your eyes. You shared so much with me.
When you died, your sister was on her way here with her then fiancé. I don’t know how it affects a person to loose their sibling. I know she has felt some anger having to now be the only child. I worried that she might feel neglected because of our intense grief.
One day we had a confrontation in the hallway here. She spilled all the frustration and sadness I knew she had bottled up to try and spare us. Funny how we think we can spare each other grief. It is impossible.
She depended on you, son. She misses you terribly in ways I don’t even experience. She was secure in her new community in Ohio, knowing you lived right upstairs.
She returned to that house and packed up your belongings and brought them here. She catalogued all your books and boxed them for donation to your department at the University. She went to the court and took care of all the legal aspects of your estate. She adopted your dogs.
She and her husband have purchased the house from us. I know how attached she can become to things and as much as we wanted to be able to help them to be secure, I worried over her motives for wanting the house.
I know you loved the house, wishing you could take it with you when you would inevitably move from there.
She expected you to be standing with her groom at her wedding. She hoped to get your skinny body on the dance floor at the reception. We all wanted to see you in a tuxedo.
Thanks to her I have some of the most wonderful photos of you here at the house at Christmas. Times here when she comes to visit are still awkward. Your absence at those times when tradition brought us together are very difficult. We are changing some of those traditions a little bit at a time. Time alone will change them anyway, so we are choosing to make those changes to suit ourselves.
The pictures of the two of you together break my heart the most. The bond that is there is one of the most special I have ever witnessed.
I assure you she is a strong person. Intelligent and capable in every way she continues to inspire and amaze me. But she misses you. She misses you in ways I have not experienced. She is living her life and we are proud of her. You would be proud of her too. You would be buying airline tickets to accompany her on the trips that her job takes her on!
I have never regretted having children. My own mother at one point in my adult life said she would not have had children if she could do it all over again. I know she was angry and I hope not in her right mind! As for me, perhaps I should have had more. I don’t know that I could have handled more, but I certainly have reveled in the two I had. Amazing gift. Absolutely amazing.
Thank you for putting up with me. Thank you for loving me and allowing me to stumble through raising and being raised by you. I thank you both with all my heart.