I remember hearing grandma get the call that you were on the way. We piled into the car and headed to Salem. I was too young to go in and see you, being just 6 years old myself. But when your parents brought you to our house, I was so enamored by you. You were so little and I was so happy that they let me hold you. Of course I had to sit on the couch with an adult lurking close by, like I ever would have dropped you! You had such white blond hair and brilliant blue eyes. Right then I knew that my love for you was special. You were more than a nephew to me. You were like my own little brother, a baby for me to play with.
Your parents were always really good about letting you come and visit us in the summer time, even after they split up. You always wanted to play with me and your laugh was so wonderful to hear. We never went through any of the “annoyance” that other Aunts and nephews who are so close in age may have gone through. Nope, not us. We loved being together and you were always so mature for your age.
I could always have such great conversations with you. I honestly think you are smarter than I am, and have been since you were little. I loved visiting your house and going wading in the creeks. Checking your craw-dad traps and watching you laugh at me for not wanting to touch them. I remember all the great trips to the beach, and the time we went to Fort Clatsop. You and Jenny looked so cute in the buckskin coats they let you try on. And the time when I buried you and Jen up to your necks in the sand! I was afraid we wouldn’t get you out of there.
And then, before I knew it, you were grown up. Graduating high school and heading to the military. That scared me to death. I was so worried you would get injured in Afghanistan. I was so happy that you chose to be a grease monkey and stay out of the direct fighting. And you came home to us, in tact. I am so proud of you for serving your country.
Then you married the love of your life. And she is a beautiful girl. And I love watching you together. CM was a true blessing. He is so much like you and so full of life. I love that we have babies the same age, but sad that we live so far apart.
The AJ came along and wow she is so beautiful. And a true spit fire.
I’m so glad that I came to visit last summer. Seeing the life that you made for your family made me so proud I can’t even express it. You grew up to be such an amazing and beautiful man. You make us all proud. You’ve been there for your entire family through moments that are beyond anything a kid your age should endure. Being the eldest of 5 children, you were never the annoying brother. Or the one that would tease your younger siblings. You were the best big brother anyone could have asked for. Let’s face it, you were the best at everything.
Maybe that’s why you left us so early…..
It’s inconceivable to me that you aren’t here anymore. And I don’t understand it. Nothing about it makes any sense to me at all. And I can’t imagine how KJ feels. Or CM. Or AJ. Or my big brother. We are all heartbroken and devastated.
It’s not fair that you aren’t here and I admit this is shaking my faith. Because I can’t see how this benefits anyone. There was no reason you can’t be here. You should have been allowed to grow old with your love. To see your children grow and graduate high school and college. To be able to stand with your son as he marries, to be able to walk your daughter down the aisle as she does the same. To hold your grandchildren in your arms and cry tears of joy at the wonder of them.
But you don’t get to do that. And my heart is split open with grief.
Your laugh has been silenced, your brilliant mind stopped, your beautiful eyes closed and the boy I’ve loved since his birth…….gone.
People may think that I’m taking the death of my nephew too hard. But they don’t get it do they? You and me…..we had a special relationship. You were more like my little brother. Being only 6 years apart, we connected on a different level.
Oh how I miss you. And I cherish those last moments I got to hold your hand and pray for you. I asked God not to take you, I asked Him to heal you. I don’t know why He didn’t answer my prayers. Maybe I didn’t pray hard enough.
I regret not asking that nurse if I could get closer to your face. I would have kissed your forehead and whispered I love you in your ear. You knew how much I loved you right? I hope you did, because I will still tell you no matter what. I don’t know if you can hear me or not. Nobody really knows what happens when we die. But I’ll tell you anyway.
I promise I will tell CM and AJ about you. I’ll tell them the stories only I know. I’ll share my memories with them. Your family will make sure they know who their daddy was, as will their mommy. She will need us all now. And I promise you I’ll be there for her, if she wants.
So, goodbye my sweet boy. May you rest in peace and I’ll see you and hug you again one day. And we will have new adventures and long conversations.
I love you,
Your Aunt Sandi