Sunday, September 8, 2013

Waiting to Breath

Mike dancing with me on my wedding Day
"Hey Buck Wheat,"  Words I will never again hear from my brother Mike.  Yes that was his nickname for me...apparently that SNL Character and I held a common bond for Mike.   Now that I think about it, I am pretty sure he was lovingly insulting me...but that was Mike's style.  There are a lot of never again's or never got to's when someone is taken from this world early.  Mike was always the fun uncle who adored his nieces and nephews, but loved to rough house.  He was generous, so I know he would have spoiled my kids and all Bella would have had to do is bat her little eyes and he would have caved.  I know John II would have had him belly laughing...but also he would have been impressed with his smarts.  Training up the next computer generation.

But the truth is, I'll never really know what it would have been like to have uncle Mike in my kids' lives.  He left this world when Bella was 5 months old.  He in fact died exactly two weeks before her baptism and the invitation to the event was still in his mail box.  He never even saw it. It was sudden.  He was 36 about to turn 37 in 4 months.  We never really got a good answer from the autopsy, except that he wasn't exactly kind or easy on his body and years of abuse took it's toll.

But he was young.  He had not had children of his own and no wife (though Vikki always felt like that to us). The last time I saw him I can say he didn't look well but he didn't look like he would be dead in two months.  We had a family BBQ for the fourth of July.  That was the last time I saw my brother alive.  He held Bella once.

Baby Izabella on the 4'th

He also pulled me aside and had a older brother conversation that in hind site wreaks of foreshadowing.  He told me two things that have remained with me. First, he told me I chose a husband wisely.  That he could tell John was a good guy, who loved me and would take care of me.  He told me the smartest thing I ever did was marry him.  The second thing he told me was if we hadn't picked Bella's Godparents they should be Gabe (now called Nino) and Erica.  Well he was half right, Gabe is Bella's God father and Erica is Alina's  Godmother.  And though Mike was never particularly religious I always felt good about those choices, like Mike had blessed them and it made them mean that much more.
Izabella's Baptism

Alina's Baptism
It wasn't until my 37'th birthday last year that I realized something about myself.  I had been holding my breath all those years.  My 28'th Birthday was the most depressed birthday I have ever had.  I didn't even want to get out of bed.  You see every year Mike used to send me flowers or a plant on my birthday...he never missed.  My birthday was exactly two months after Mike died and I knew there would be no flowers from him.    It was another reminder of yet another never again.  Honestly, that day is a haze.  I am glad I had Bella as I am pretty sure she is why I did get out of bed.  But I know despite every one's efforts it wasn't a good one's fault, it just wasn't a happy day for me.

Every subsequent birthday I wanted to be happy.  Just before my 30'th we welcomed Alina into the world.  I wouldn't say that any of them were as bad as my 28'th but it was hard to feel happy that day.  Last year, was the first time I felt the burden of sadness surrounding that day lift.   It made me pause and ask myself why...because I could physically feel the difference in my body.  I realized all these years I felt like I was on a count down.  The fact that I had weird ailments crop up did nothing to alleviate those fears.   But I guess some part of me felt like if Mike, who was larger than life, could slip away in his sleep at the age of 36, then surely meek little me would do the same.

But I didn't.  I have lost friends, family, faced heart ache and triumph and I am still here.  It honestly had not been a conscious thought.  Truly any of us could meet Jesus tomorrow.   But I had been holding my breath wondering all that time.

So, now I breathe deep.  Last year I celebrated with a vengeance.    Every year, September is hard.  It actually surprises me how hard it still seems.  But I guess it's all those pesky never again's and never got to's.  But at least now I can breathe.


  1. You have a lot of people surrounding you that love you and are there for anything you need, including a shoulder to cry on. Love you my dear friend, and I am glad we have found each other! ~Vanessa~

  2. Touching. You put that wonderfully.