No doubt, these are good times and even better memories. These 6 people mean more to me than I could ever put into words, there is just not enough adjectives to describe my feelings.
For so many years, we have relied on each other in ways that most people will never understand and could never relate to. These 6 people, my siblings Randy, Lon, Roxy, Dawn, Ally and Chad have been my life partners and I could never imagine my life without them…..
However, there is one important aspect to the above pictures that can never go without mention, we are missing someone. For 35 years, we have walked this earth, the 7 of us, experiencing all the joys and sadness that life brings to a close-knit sibling group (current political season aside ;), though there should be 8.
Holidays have been marked by years of laughter, food and shared funny stories with the guys sitting on one side of the room rolling their eyes at the “ladies” on the other that cannot stop laughing, or talking over the other one (rather loudly) to get a great story in! Most holidays find us with full bellies that hurt from riots of laughter from years of sibling stories that act much like a reality sitcom (we would have been a wildly successful show!).
And weddings. So many have come and gone. Beautiful events filled with love (and chaos, mayhem and last minute panicking-Anderson style) and family that punctuate our assuredness in passing on our most important legacy, the Anderson name and our most astute family heritage, Anderson=procrastination=late. It is this time (not) honored tradition that I am most proud of (not really) but it is the constant reminder that once you come to know us, you will tell us to be somewhere AT LEAST 30 minutes before we actually need to. In time, this trickery became lost on our most esteemed procrastinator, dad but “strong are his genes, they are”!
Birthday parties, especially the milestone ones where we gather together to not only support each other through these “happy” reminders of being one step closer to AARP. These joyous events where we “support” one another through our advancing years while regaling stories of (embarrassing) times from the past are simply a sibling right of passage (to advanced age, forgetfulness and eventual regression back to our diaper wearing days).
Today, we have another birthday. It is my brother Daren’s birthday today, he would be 58. This day is always bitter (sweet) because simply, he is not here to celebrate with. He has missed his milestone birthdays here on earth, no “welcome to 40”, or “haha, its your 5oth”! We just take a moment (or a few) and remind ourselves of his absence, stare at his picture and whisper “happy birthday big bro” on his day, which is this day. I have no doubt that with Daren’s presence, each of the above events would have been crazier, more brazen but filled with a love that could only be emitted from this larger than life guy.
Instead, the last sibling picture that I have of Daren is this one….
Daren is holding Dawn in this pic, and somehow we only have Roxy’s left shoulder on display (has to be mother that took this photo, dad was a perfectionist) but this is the last photo I have of all of us together (of course, Ally and Chad were nothing more than an apple in my papa’s eye at this point).
For 35 years, Daren is only a story and an idea to Ally and Chad, a piece of our history that seems as distant as learning about the fact that President Taft was so fat that he got stuck in a tub and had to be cut out of it (I think this is the only thing I remember from history in high school-Mr Peterson had all the best stories). My point being, his void is a desperate scenario of how our brother, who once was such a part of this family has become to some, just a distant memory from others, not exactly real, yet tangled into the cobwebs that represent our history.
For a few of us: Randy, myself, Lon and Roxy, we remember the day he left vividly, and we have memories that we hold onto and relive so as to not lose Daren to the fog that becomes the past. His smile, what some would call a “shit-eating-grin”, his dancing mischievous eyes and his ever present display of ADHD without Ritalin (the dude could not sit for more than 5 minutes!). I will not lie, many would have called him a total naughty shit, but for me, he was larger than life, that cool brother that would beat up anyone who did myself or my siblings wrong (not really, but it sounded good on the playground!).
We miss him and even those that never really knew him well (or at all-Ally and Chad) are oddly quiet when moments come in our lives where we know that he should be standing with us, but is noticeably absent.
So, today is his birthday. 58, definitely AARP age and how fun would that have been to rub in, along with the idea that in a couple years he would SIXTY YEARS OLD! And yet, he is forever frozen at the age of 22, youthful, exuberant and mythical, and maybe that is the way he would have wanted to be remembered. However, I am selfish, and would have liked him here with us, a little older, a few more wrinkles, a definite ache in the back and a hitch in the giddy-up!
Instead, happy heavenly birthday Daren! I am thinking that it has been long enough that you have secured our positions up there…I mean we had more time here on Earth to make a couple more mistakes than you, so put in a good word for us with the BIG GUY, okay….not that I am nervous or anything…..
Special addendum: this post was for my siblings but I always need to add this:
Daren’s daughter Amanda (just a couple months younger than Chad) never knew her dad…..for her, he lives in our memories which we share with her. His absence though great for us, has been life altering for Amanda who never knew the physical hug, the spoken word or the knowledge that her dad would always be there for her. Instead, she forged a life where he lives in her mind’s eye and in her heart, though never physically present, which may be our greatest challenge in keeping his memory alive as though he still walked with us here on Earth.