Today marks three years since my life changed completely. Not since the births of my children, although those are other days that have had the same affect. Not since my wedding day, another day that altered my view of everything. Today is three years since my brother, James, died.
My wedding day was the day I joined my life to another person, vowing to love my husband and build the rest of my life with him by my side. I never had to vow anything to my brother; he arrived when I was four years old, and I wasn’t always sure who asked for him to show up. But every moment of my life, every memory, every joy and heartache, was shared with my brother. He was part of all my childhood adventures. Sometimes a challenger, sometimes an ally, always there. I don’t know who I am without him, because I can’t remember a me that didn’t have a him.
The births of my children were intense and life altering. I can remember every moment leading to their arrival, like watching a movie of the events unfolding. The day James died has the same movie quality. One moment I’m dancing around the living room with my kids, singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, the next moment the phone rang and the entire universe shifted. But it wasn’t until I saw the police cruiser in the driveway that it really became real, and it hit me harder than a punch to the stomach. Suddenly I was there and he wasn’t. And nothing looked the same anymore.
My brother wasn’t perfect. He was funny and obnoxious, kind and short-tempered, unbelievably frustrating and unbelievably loving. And on June 30, 2009, when he was just 28 years old, he was driving down a road when his car collided head-on with another, ending his life. Since that day, everything in my world has changed. I love my children and my husband, I love my parents and sister and great big amazing family, I laugh, I work, I cry. I do all the same things I did before. But I look at the world differently. I understand, as I never did before, that you can lose something in an instant. So I try to embrace every moment I get.
My thoughts are with my brother today. They are also with every family that has lost a loved one, including my own. Wishing all of us peace and love. James, I carry your heart.
James had a series of orthopedic surgeries during the last few years of his life. He was constantly in pain, but always willing to keep trying. In his honor, my family has chosen to make donations to Shriners Hospitals for Children. James adored kids, since he was a big one himself (that is him – Uncle Bubba – with my oldest, Annabella in the picture), and we know it would make him happy and proud to know that lots of kids are getting the care they need thanks to him. It is my honor and pleasure to say that EverydayFamily has also supported Shriners in his memory, and does so once again this year.