Saturday, September 24, 2011


"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. " - C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis was a wise man (not that you needed me to tell you that). When my brother died in 2008, I experienced a lot of emotions, all of which I suppose I could have anticipated--except for the fear. It came in various disguises, expressed itself in various ways, and showed up unexpectedly at the strangest times and places. Just a few nights after Kevin passed away, it came in the middle of the night: The fear that I would forget him. So immediately, I got up and started writing--stream of consciousness style--all the random memories and thoughts and associations and feelings that came to mind.

Today, Kevin would have turned 30 years old. I want to celebrate his birth, his life, his influence on my life. I want to remember. And so, here it is--a selection of a few of the memories I scribbled down on a notepad that night almost 3 years ago.
Kevin loved pumpkin spice coffee with honey.  He smelled like cologne and cigarettes, and had dimples when he smiled.  His eyes were unbelievably blue, and his skin was tan from working outside.  He was a metal roofer. 
He came to watch Dad and me perform at a New Year's Eve event and stayed for our entire show.  He told us it was really good, and I think he meant it. 
He loved to give things to people to make them feel special, like expensive earrings he bought for a girl who had never been given anything nice, even though he didn’t really have the money to do it.  Our last Christmas together, he gave me a teacher’s calendar because he wanted to give me something that fit me personally.  He was proud of me. 
He was a wonderful usher in our wedding.  He was so handsome, and I was proud of him walking Mom down the aisle in front of all those people. 
When we were little, we used to stay up on Christmas eve and talk to each other from our rooms over an intercom.  We used to make “wood carvings” late into summer nights under the street lamp by the woodpile in our backyard.  On hot summer days we’d eat orange juice popsicles on the steps of the back porch.  We were rivals at piano when we were first learning how to play--he could memorize music better than I could.  When we visited family in southwest Virginia, he and I explored the countryside together.  In our own town, we braved the woods and creeks of our neighborhood and others nearby.  We took hikes to Wolf Creek with Mom and our dog.  We built ramps for our sleds when it snowed and had "collision wars" while we raced down the hills.  We played spotlight tag, baseball, basketball, and smear with the neighborhood kids--all boys.  He was my big brother. 
Growing up, he did Aikido-Jujitsu.  He especially liked doing the rolls.  He was a great swimmer, and my goal was always to beat his times. We went rock climbing together in West Virginia one summer, and we went white water rafting as a family almost every year.
He once put a dead scorpion in my rabbit’s cage as a joke.  When we were really, really little he tried to get me to eat rabbit poop in the yard by telling me it was raisins. 
As an adult, he liked to show off the roofs he installed--especially the frighteningly steep ones.  He was always a risk taker, always pushing the limits. 
He always loved me. 
He liked Stephen King novels, moose tracks ice cream, and spicy food.  He bought a jet ski that quit working on its first trip out.   He once rode one of my horses while simultaneously smoking a cigarette.  I was so mad, but he just laughed and told me to quit worrying about it. 
The last time we went skiing, he skied down the toughest run over and over and over again, as fast as he could, barely in control but loving every second of it. 
He was so, so intelligent and analytical, so perceptive and observant.  So sensitive to the smallest, subtlest looks and comments.
I remember his hands--strong, rough, sturdy, and always warm.  I remember when he said “I love you” at the end of a phone conversation when I was upset.  I remember him texting me to say "Happy New Year!" the last New Year’s Eve we had together.  I still have that text.  I remember how he would come over to the house for dinner after he'd moved out, and how he would always hug me before he left the house. 
He was my big brother, and I was his little sister, and we loved each other.  Always.  

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