I had a great childhood... I really did. It was packed with adventure and intrigue... and I am sure there were days that my mother truly wondering if I was going to survive, or rather, if she was going to survive to see me become an adult.
I was a scrappy little kid who my mother would tell me that I smelled "like the great outdoors" and I thought that was a compliment.
You all know that I have an older sister (who is so much better than me that I am thankful everyday that I have her on my side) and a younger sister (who is also better than me, but sometimes I convince her to visit the bad side with me and we have to go to confession after our time together) but what you may not know is that I also have an older brother.
His name was Sean and he passed away when we were kids. He was great and not a day goes by that I do not think of him or wish that he was here, telling me I am being inappropriate or telling me that my hair looks stupid this way.
I have missed having an older brother to watch out for me, to tell me not to do something and when I did do something, to be there to clean it up and protect me.
Don't get me wrong-I know for a fact that my brother is watching out for me. How else would you explain the mere fact that I am still here and not in jail, or worse, at the top of that water tower that my college friends all wanted to climb after a night of partying.
Friend A: "Hey-look at the water tower-when did they put that up?"
Friend B: "That has always been there... I wonder what they use it for."
Me: "I bet you can go swimming in there."
Friend A: "Hey look! There is a ladder up to the top."
Friend B (running toward the tower): "I bet you can see the boys college across town from up there!"
Friend A (running past friend B): "I wonder if I will be able to see that jerk Ned Smiley."
Friend B: "Why would you want to see him?"
Friend A: "No reason" (sidenote... friend A and Ned are now married)
Me: "Last one up is a skunked beer!"
This was all fine and great until we got to the part where the ladder starts to go outward because we all know what a water tower is shaped like and there is a point in which you have to actually climb up and out to get over the hump at the top. Now, I could have continued and eventually fallen to my death, but my brother was surely in Heaven looking down at me saying "What is wrong with you? Have you lost your mind? Get down idiot!"
And we did get down... but not without writing in pen "June wuz here" for all to see... because ball point pen can be seen for miles right? At least that is what a drunk would think.
Anyway... I eventually met and fell in love with a boy from my hometown, a boy that was actually in my brother's kindergarten class so how cool is it that Carl knew him? So cool. So a few years ago it was time for Carl's High School reunion.
He went to a different high school than me, so I didn't think I would know anyone there (and because he is 4 years older than me so why would I know such old people?) But the first night of the reunion weekend they had a "mixer" at a favorite hometown eating establishment (read:bar) and I was sitting listening to Carl and his twin brother talk to people about the good ol' days, the days when Carl was a drummer in a rock band and had long hair that he used to perm and wore spandex pants and tied bandannas around this wrists and ankles (this is all before my time... he had cleaned up his act before we met-but he is still a rock star at heart).
I was scanning the room when I saw someone that looked very familiar but I could not place him. I started to walk toward him because I was sure I knew him and I just needed to focus in order for my brain to remember. By the time I got to him I was pretty sure I knew exactly who he was.
It was Tony Tazarial, the little boy that was my brother's best friend and lived across the street from us when we were little. They moved away shortly after Sean passed away and I had never again see him-I was probably 4 the last time I saw him and he was 8-but I knew without a doubt that this was him.
Now, this next part of the story is my favorite story of all time. It is the story that I think back to and smile. It is the story that my mom likes me to retell to her, and it is the story that makes me know that my brother is close and that no one has forgotten who he was...
Tony and I looked at each other and I smiled. "Are you Tony Tazarial?"
He looked at me and nodded "Yeah... you are Sean's little sister right?"
Those were the best words that anyone could have ever uttered to me and I beamed and nodded. That is exactly who I am...
He went on to ask me how my parents were doing and we talked about what he had been doing and his parents and eventually ended the conversation with him saying "Say hello to your mom and dad for me." and walked away.
I realized that I am not the only one that carries my brother with me-my siblings and my parents are not the only ones that remember him. He touched other people-good people, who remember.
And that is just awesome.