Your birthday just passed and I thought about you, but then I think about you a lot. I remember when you would visit Grandma and Grandpa when I lived with them. You walked in with your wife and little son. You always dressed up for grandma, you looked so handsome. I was so proud to have you for my older brother. During the summer we would sit outside; you always with a beer in your hand. Grandpa loved to show you his latest creation—whether it was a sun room he was building or a new dog house for Sandy the boxer. Those were good times.
I can’t remember my very young days with you, only through pictures. Thirteen years is a big age difference. You were an older brother to three sisters. We all adored you. That infectious laugh and down-to-earth way you had about you made it easy to be with you. Growing up in a dysfunctional family doesn’t make it easy to stay connected, so we all drifted and found our own places in this world. You had your family and tried your best to keep them together. It seemed to result in a separation from your three sisters. I understood, and I never held it against you. You were my brother, and the love survived the years apart.
I remember reconnecting with your son and granddaughter and learning that you had cancer. I was determined to see you. When I walked in the hospital room, I only saw my handsome older brother with a big smile. I didn’t see the hospital bed, the gown, or the tubes. The years melted away, the bond was still there. I sat at your bedside and we talked, a little awkward at first, but then easy and light. You were given two more years on this earth and we all came together for you. I could see that you were in pain, but you said you were fine, still being the big brother.
We talked about our families. I knew you felt bad for the years apart, but now you seemed to want to spend some time with your sisters. We didn’t talk about the past, it wasn’t important anymore. It was important that our hearts connected while there was still time. You never spoke about the end coming, but we knew it was soon. January 31, 2015, was the day we said goodbye. I will always miss you, but I will choose to remember our special time together rather than the years of distance. And be thankful that I had a wonderful big brother.