Today is my youngest brother’s birthday. He would be 10 years old today. He died six and a half years ago from a brain tumor.
It’s hard for me to imagine how different it would be if he hadn’t died. I can’t imagine what he would have been like as an eight-year-old or a ten-year-old. I can’t imagine what it would be like if Crawford had a little brother just fifteen months younger than him to play with and to hang out with. I can’t imagine my life not having included his year of brain surgery, chemotherapy, and eventual death. When I think of him, I can only remember him as the cute three-year-old he was.
I remember that some people were really awkward around me after he died or didn’t know what to say. I feel badly that I still don’t know what to say to people who’ve lost someone. I feel like I should, but I don’t. I worry that people who know about his death feel awkward when they say something that they suspect will remind me of him. But I don’t mind; I want to be reminded of him. I want to remember him. Forgetting him would be far more painful than remembering.
After he died, my dad wrote a sort of biography about him, for our family, so that we could remember his life, and so we could remember him. For Christmas, my dad had a copy printed for me. It sits on our coffee table, and I see it daily. Today, when we get home from church, I’ll likely pick it up and read from it. I’ll remember things that I would have forgotten otherwise. That he called ranch dressing “white ketchup” or how he would push the printer test button to get paper from the printer and then drop those papers, one by one, from the upstairs balcony and watch them float downstairs, only to gather them all back up and do it again.
Happy Birthday, Shepard.