I Want to Thank You

WHAT’S PLAYING: Aerosmith “AvantGarden”

Thank you to all those who took time out of their day to wish me well on my birthday. Birthdays can be hard and have been known to send me into a deep depression for weeks. I’d forgotten that, while I may still grieve the loss of my brother, birthdays are also days of hope and renewal to be celebrated with the people you love.

Thank you all for reminding me of this.

 

I Miss You, Jon

WHAT’S PLAYING: Robbie RobertsonGhost Dance

Today is not a good day.

Today is my birthday, a special day I shared with my twin brother, Jonathan, for nineteen glorious years.

Jon and I were almost freakishly close. We had our own language, our own special way of speaking without words. He kept me grounded and protected me from everyone who would do me harm, including myself.

When my brother left this earth, he took the best parts of me with him.

And I’m left with nothing but this tedious grief. I can’t stand the monotony of it, every second dragging into the next. Is this why people sing of love, friends, and family? So that we will pin our happiness on something as fragile as a human life?

(Yet somehow, I managed to do just that five years after Jon died, only to lose my fiancé and my child in the same week. But that is a story for another time. If I write about it now, I’ll sink so deep into the abyss that I’ll be lost for weeks.)

It shames me to admit it, but I’m more angry than sad. Angry with the man who murdered Jon for money he didn’t have, angry that God could be so cruel to let me live when my twin is dead. But mostly angry with my brother who — for the first and only time in his life — left me behind and went to a place where I could not follow. (At least, not yet.)

And after all these years, I’m still trying to remember how to breathe, still learning how to live without him. And I never feel this more keenly than on the day we entered this world together.

So you see, today is not a good day.

Since his death, I’ve spent most of my life just trying to be the person he loved. I’ve tried to face the world with humor, honesty, and humility. I’ve tried to do well and good at the same time. And I’ve tried every day to let my friends and family know just how much I love them.

It’s my way of honoring my brother, trying to be worthy of being known as “Jon’s sister,” living in the hope that one day I will see him again on the other side.

I know this grief isn’t good for me. I know I should try to find some kind of peace or comfort, but I can’t.

Maybe tomorrow.

Stories from my Grandfather – The Hunter and the Alligator

WHAT’S PLAYING: Jimmy ReedAin’t That Lovin’ You Baby?”

Once upon a time, there was a village on the edge of the Tombigbee River. There were many hunters in this village, all of whom — with one exception — had killed a great many deer.

Although the unlucky hunter often succeeded in getting close to the deer, they always managed to escape just before he drew his bow on them.

Now, this hunter had been away from the village for three days, and during that time, he had seen many deer but had not been able to kill a single one.

On the third day, when the sun was overhead, the hunter saw a huge alligator lying in a dry, sandy spot. This alligator had been without water for many days, and was so weak and shriveled that he could barely speak, but he managed to ask the hunter where he could find some water.

“There is a clear, deep pool of cold water just a short way into the forest,” the hunter replied.

“But I am too weak to go so far. Come nearer so that we may talk. Have no fear, for I cannot harm you,” said the alligator.

Careful to keep a prudent distance between himself and the alligator, the hunter moved closer so that he could hear.

“I know you are a hunter,” the alligator said, “but all the deer escape from you. If you will carry me to the water, I will make you a great hunter and tell you how to kill many, many deer.”

The hunter was afraid of the alligator, but finally he said, “If you will let me bind your legs so that you cannot scratch me, and your mouth so that you cannot bite me, I will carry you.”

The alligator rolled over on his back and held up his legs, saying, “I am helpless. Bind me and do with me as you will.”

The hunter took a cord and bound the alligator’s legs and mouth. Then he lifted the animal to his shoulder and carried him to the water.

When they reached the pool, the hunter loosened the cords and the alligator plunged into the water. It stayed down for a long time.

At last, he rose again to the surface and spoke to the hunter, saying, “Now listen, and if you do as I counsel, you will become a great hunter. Take your bow and arrows and go into the woods. You will first meet a small doe, but do not kill it. Next, you will meet a large doe, but you must not shoot this one either. Then you will see a small buck, but it likewise must be spared. Lastly, you will encounter a very large, old buck. Go very close to it and kill it, and ever afterward you will be able to kill many deer.”

The hunter did as the alligator told him, and was never again without venison in his camp.