A Letter To My Brother

Rainbow Valley

Rainbow Valley (Photo credit: rwangsa)

Dearest Baby Brother,

Happy birthday darling! I wish that I could deliver this greeting In person but since you died so young, that is impossible. Based on my beliefs, which were yours as well, I believe that you are up there in heaven, healthy, and watching over all of us. At times, I swear that I can feel your presence all around me, and I find that quite comforting.

Although it has happened ever so slowly over the years, this is the first year that the good memories that we shared, outweighs my grief over losing you. Grief is funny that way–it affects each of us in different ways and no one can decide when another person “should be over it.”(I hear people say this much too often, and I am quick to refute that claim.) Instead of ones of grief, I cry tears of happiness at the memory of you.

I’ve finally reached acceptance and peace about your death. I am not saying that a day goes by that I don’t miss you, but the raw hurt, sadness and anguish is replaced by the joy of sharing a life with you, and the pride of being your sister.

This letter is not meant to be a downer. No, I want to celebrate you and tell you how blessed I feel to be your sister. You were a blessing to me and even though I was the oldest, you were always a wise old soul and your life and death taught me, among others, things like:

  1. Love never dies.
  2. To tell those that you love, how much you love them and what you mean to them~~often.
  3. To be brave in the face of adversity.
  4. To take risks.
  5. To be kind to others, but don’t be doormat.
  6. To speak up for yourself.
  7. To speak up for injustices.
  8. That loyalty, truth and trust are traits that one should live by.
  9. To maintain your sense of curiosity.
  10. To be true to yourself.
  11. To live life to its fullest.
  12. To know all of your options, before making a decision.
  13. That wisdom is not age-dependent.
  14. To appreciate, appreciate, appreciate the small blessings in life.
  15. To count the life blessings.
  16. To live a life that you can be proud of.
  17. That you are never promised another moment.
  18. To defend your family fiercely.
  19. To savor life with all of your senses.
  20. To be adventurous.
  21. To love outside of your comfort zone.

The memories are too many to name. I remember the day that Mom brought you home. I loved you from the moment that I lay eyes on you. As the oldest, I felt like your protector, and that I’d let nothing happen to you. I remember that after great-grandmother could no longer keep up with you, you had to go to daycare, and at first, you hated it. Every day, for a month, you stood by the gate crying and waiting for Mom to pick you and insisted on wearing sunglasses, so that the other children wouldn’t see you cry. I remember those times that I picked you up from daycare and we walked home with your hand in mind. I think that it was I holding on to your little hand for dear life.

I remember that you were funny and could make us laugh. I remember that when I got pregnant, right after high school and compounded the problem by moving out to get married, you never disparaged or showed any disappointment in me. Regardless of what others thought, you didn’t care. In fact, although you are only 9 years old, I remember you taking at least two buses to see me and ultimately, your first nephew in our teeny, little apartment. Your actions touch my heart to this very day. Also, you were a great-uncle and delighted in your nieces and nephews.

As you grew older, you were a constant source of pride and I loved you more. You graduated high school, and moved on to college. You were living in San Francisco at the time and had just finished your final year at the University when you were diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I was in awe of the strength, grace, and faith with which you faced the situation. I remember your determination and zeal to overcome the disease. I remember your insistence that life would go on, so you decided to move away from home to seek your Masters in Communication. I remember your excitement at having reached your goal.

All in all, I remember a man who exemplified a zest for life, an incredible spirit and was the epitome of a compassionate and caring person. Your positively touched the life of everyone who was fortunate enough to have been in your presence. You were a  loving brother. (I mean, what brother puts a picture of his big sister up in his high school locker? :)) Sweetie, you were a blessing to me and I am a better person for having known you. If given the opportunity, there are things that I long to share with you, but I am comforted by the belief that I adequately conveyed to you how very much I love you. About that, I have no regrets. Besides, I believe that you are already privy to everything that I wish to share.

I still love this quote from this earlier post about you:

“And you will continue now, and forever, to redefine your relationship with your deceased loved one. Death doesn’t end the relationship, it simply forges a new type of relationship – one based not on physical presence but on memory, spirit, and love.” ~ Ashley Davis Bush, “Transcending Loss

I am a lucky person for having shared a life with you, and as I expressed in the above post, you will always be my dear, sweet brother. I’d have it no other way. Thank you for being, and enjoy a heavenly birthday.

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Thought of the Day

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For me, today is a day of celebration for more than one reason.  Thirty-five years ago today,  I was eighteen years old and newly married, a whole other story that must wait for another day and time. On April 19, 1977, I became a mother to a beautiful, bouncing baby boy. On that day, I began what I have come to consider is the most challenging and difficult job in the world-motherhood  At such a young age, I was ill-prepared for the job, but I’ve come to learn that motherhood, at any age, is a daunting gift that is not for the timid.   I am grateful for both blessings that I received on that day – my son and the gift of motherhood.  Happy birthday dear Son.  I am blessed to be your Mother. 
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Happy Birthday to My First Love

birthday cakeImage by freakgirl via Flickr
Today is a special day in our house.  Seventy-one years ago, my mother, C., was born to Curry and Inez in New Orleans, Louisiana.  For all intents and purposes, she was raised by her grandmother, Irma, and spent time with her father. She was a happy child with numerous cousins to play and hang around with.


When she was a mere 18 years of age, she married. I was the first born child to C. and J., five days before Christmas in New Orleans. I was their first born of three girls.  My mother is an amazing woman who single-handedly raised me and my 3 siblings, when my dad made the poor choice to leave our family–on my 5th birthday.  Although I didn’t realize it for decades, this incident had a huge influence on my life and the person that I was to become.

After my father left our family, we had to move in with my great-grandmother. My mother, a very beautiful woman, who married young and never had the opportunity to attend college, had few job prospects. She had three children to care for so she soon accepted a job as a cook for the New Orleans Catholic Archdiocese, where she remained for over 40 years. Although we were poor, my mom always worked 2-3 jobs to make sure that we had food on the table and clean clothes to wear. Although she could have easily qualified, she steadfastly refused to apply for or receive any type of government aid. (The exception was the free lunch program that we had to apply for through the schools and were automatically accepted.) She is a proud woman and remains so to this day.

Her life has not been easy. She has seen a sister taken from her by violent means, her mother by a drunk driver, her beloved grandmother by cancer, her son by congestive heart failure following an earlier diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 23, and numerous other losses that she has handled with grace. Most recently, Hurricane Katrina, as well as health issues, made it impossible for my mom to return to the only home that she has ever known, the only one that she ever cared to know–New Orleans. Yet, in spite of all of this, she has never lost hope or faith.

My mother came to live with my husband and me because of serious health issues, but I think that I have gained much more from her presence. It is the first time that we have lived under the same roof since I left home the Summer after I graduated high school. I can’t say that I left on great terms, and I certainly did not understand her and what it meant to be a parent; especially, a single parent of four. The passage of time and parenthood have mellowed me and I think that I can say, made me wiser. With that, our relationship has been transformed. It has matured into something that I never thought possible, a friendship, and a close one at that. My mom is my confidant, (okay, there are limits.) friend, and at times, just my mother. For the first time ever, I think that I can say with certainty that, I get my mom and she gets me. Even ten years ago, I never thought that I’d utter those words. I know that I am blessed to still have my mother with me and that is why I couldn’t let this day go by without saying “HAPPY 71st BIRTHDAY” to the very first love of my life, my Mom. 

Blessings to you,



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