This year I didn't even remember. Not right away. Not until I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a tribute post from one of your friends. It knocked me off balance to see your name, your face, in an unexpected place. I admit, I felt guilty that I'd only been thinking of today as Monday. But then I didn't. I was up most of the night with the baby, your niece, and I'm sure I would have remembered after the fog of sleeplessness burned off. Anyway, it's not as if I don't think of you. You're always here. Sometimes a quiet shadow in the background, sometimes a giant, elbowing up front.
You would have been 35, almost 36. I say this every year, but it never stops being true: you would most certainly have been bald. Maybe a little paunchy? I definitely am. I'm not sure what you would have been up to career-wise, but I often think of you as a lawyer or political strategist. You definitely would have been crusading for social justice, fighting for equal rights and speaking out against material excess.
You would have been one of the leaders of the resistance. And shit brother, we really could have used you.
You would have been a spectacular uncle. I can picture the kids squealing with delight upon your arrival, barreling into you full-force the way only tiny humans can. Your nephew is whip smart, stubborn, and hilarious. He reminds me a lot of you. Your niece is a ball of sunshine--until you cross her. Then she's loud, formidable, and fierce.
God, you would have loved them. And they would have loved you.
I haven't told them much about you. I'm not sure how to. How do you introduce them to someone who isn't here? Your nephew is old enough to start asking questions. I hope I'm ready to answer them.
Spring was so late this year. All through March and April there were gray skies, cold and snow. I kept thinking it would never come. But it's 70 degrees today. There's a bird singing right outside my window. And if I get really quiet and listen, I can hear the wind chimes in my backyard.
I wish you had waited a little longer. I hope you've found your spring.