My brother was a wrestler. He was a very good wrestler. For those of you who are picturing Hulk Hogan in a skin tight leotard, you are not even close. When I say wrestling, I mean the technical, athletic, focused, discipline of actual wrestling. This means nothing to most of you, and I am fine with that. I like being a part of a small percentage of people who have yelled the phrase "up and out!" at an athletic competition. I don't mind that very few people know what I am talking about, in fact I prefer it.
I love that my memories of my brother are exclusive. I prefer that my memories of him are just mine alone. But, I also fear that they are slipping away from me. I can remember, a year or two after Adam passed away, the realization that I could not remember what his hands looked like. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not remember his hands. Then it was his voice. To this day, I cannot remember his voice.
Sometimes, I dream of Adam. Almost always, we are skiing together, which is weird because in real life, we never skied together. In real life I missed Adam's 17th birthday because I wanted to go skiing with my friends, except I don't think they were really my fiends. I think what really happened was that some of my friends had gotten in trouble and were not allowed to hang out with each other... but they were allowed to hang out with me, because I was a "good girl." So, my friends (who actually wanted to see each other) asked me to go skiing so that they could hang out with one another. They asked me to go skiing on January 26th. My brother's 17th birthday. That was as old as he would ever be, and I wasn't there to celebrate because I went skiing with friends who really had no interest in being with me.
I have hated myself for that for so long, and I have never told anyone, besides my husband, this story. I wish so much that I was with him for the last birthday of his life. I dream of skiing with him, and I dream that he forgives me and that I bring him a big present and everything is fine.
I am almost done with my 31 days of kindness. I don't think I am ready to be done with it, because it is the closest I have come to hearing my brother's voice again that I don't want to stop. I am terrified of losing more of him, and I am afraid of letting go of the hurt of losing him, because sometimes it feels like all I have left to remember him by.
Then, I think of what only I know. I think of sitting next to him on the couch while he shakes his feet habitually, to "make weight." I think of me and my friend, Sarah, hiding candy from him because we didn't know that it was his. I think of when he and I talked about my parents getting divorced and him telling me who I would need to be: the forgiving one, the compassionate one, understanding everybody and hearing everyone out. I remember watching him do his hair, and talk about the girl he liked, and the time he was proud of me for being defiant.
Some of these details I will always keep to myself, because they are my sacred... my treasured secrets that nobody gets to sit in on. I will hold these memories as long as I can, and I look forward to the day that I hear my brother's voice again in heaven.
For Day 27, my sister-in-law and I brought dinner to a widower who is on dialysis three times a week. He lost his wife fifteen years ago and I am certain that he has plenty of memories of her that he keeps all to himself. He probably has a world of regrets, like my skiing day, and I am certain that a lot of those regrets will remain until the day he dies.
I am glad that we were able to bring a meal to this man, and while he is battling the inevitability that he will forget his wife; her hands, her voice... we were able to make him feel that he is remembered, that he isn't alone, even if he can't remember her...