Travis, you were my greatest love for a very long time. Until my own little lady came along.
I can still remember meeting you for the very first time. All wrapped up in a hospital swaddling blanket, little knit cap covering your smooth bald head. You were puffy and pink and the most beautiful creature that ever existed in my eyes from that moment forward.
The first time I held your little infant body in my arms my heart exploded with love in ways I didn’t know were possible. I had never felt so much devotion to another human being. Never had I been so enamored with anyone else.
In your first moments on earth you altered my world and continued to do so throughout your too-short life.
I was your big sister. There was almost 16 years age difference between us. Growing up, I affectionately referred to you as “my first baby”. Because that is who you were to me. I wanted to love you, protect and keep you safe from all the harm in the world, forever. I wanted to save and prevent you from my own experiences. I wanted you to trust me and look up to me always.
As you grew we remained close. I remained your “sissy” or “sis” until the day you died. However, I failed at protecting you from all the bad things in the world. I failed pretty miserably. You had your own journey and challenges growing up. I recognize it wasn’t easy. I don’t think you were able to see me as an ally but more as a second mom. You didn’t come to me when you needed to or should have. You veered wildly off course. And you never got back on.
The last time I saw you, touched you, spoke with you, hugged and kissed you, teased you, ate with you, wrestled with you, laughed with you, made fun of mom with you was on Thanksgiving 4 years ago. I remember thinking you were still partying too hard, that your complexion looked sallow and dark circles sat under your eyes. I remember that you had fallen asleep on the couch and we tried to tickle you to touch your nose with a handful of whipped cream in your resting palm. I recall when you left wondering who were these friends that weren’t invited into mom’s house. We knew all of your real friends. I remember worrying about you and feeling helpless.
Saturday, mid afternoon a police officer called my mom to announce that he was coming over to give her some “news” about my brother. Panicked, I rushed to mom’s house. When the officers arrived they gently and kindly shattered our world as they described the motor vehicle accident that had instantaneously extinguished your life. If a measure of the depth of love is the depth of one’s anguish than you, Travis, were deeply loved.
And so we arrive at Thanksgiving time 2018. And I am healing but still hurting and missing you. It feels so lonely. To have had a brother like you removed from my life. Taking with you all of our memories and secrets shared and inside jokes. Taking with you all of the hopes and dreams I planted inside of you and wanted for you. Eliminating your very potential. The opportunity to grow into your own skin. Taking away possibility and depositing infinite what if’s.
Sometimes, I play an imaginary game. I try to guess who you would have become, had you lived. What would have happened? What type of person would have evolved from you? I like to imagine that you find your passion and apply yourself fully. I watch your friends’ lives unfolding via social media and you live on vicariously in them, for me. I pretend you get away from the partying and the types of people that go with that lifestyle. You meet a nice girl and you are happy. And you feel worthy. And you feel whole and enough. I dream that as you mature you trust me. You realize what a valuable resource of a big sister you have at your disposal. That I am wise but cool and not judgy. You understand that when I tell you I’ve done it all- it’s the truth. When I say that I am here no matter what, I really am. I play out all of my hopes and dreams for you. I follow the thread of potential and see what it weaves. Sometimes, this game is better than the reality of regret and grief.
Now till eternity, I live with regrets. Regrets that I didn’t do more. I didn’t listen to my gut crying out in concern. Why didn’t I remove you from your life? My one job as your big sister was to protect you and I failed. I did not protect you from yourself.
I would love to proclaim that I know where you are, or that you are a transfer of energy and you are still with us- spiritual cliche etc, etc. The truth is that I don’t know. Faith and I are frenemies at best and I struggle with her daily. I don’t feel your presence at times. You send me sweet feathers and birds. But those things are not you. They don’t laugh your contagious laugh, or playfully tease the way you did. They don’t bear hug me and call me sissy like you. They don’t fill the void of you missing from me. I doubt they ever will. But please, Travis, don’t stop sending them.
I wanted to honor you, somehow, 4 years passed. Life cut abruptly. I try to honor you daily by staying in the moment, laughing and being silly. Some days though, I am still failing you.
You are still my first greatest love, my first baby, you taught me more than I ever could have hoped to teach you. I am so grateful to have had you as a brother. I miss you infinitely. I hate that you are missing from me. But you are…..
Always your Sis