Today would be Shepard’s thirteenth birthday. I’ve been thinking a lot about him in the last few days.
Sometimes, I think about the big events of his life – the night I came home to him having a massive seizure and having to make the call to 911, the night my mom came home from the hospital to tell us Shepard probably only had a few weeks to live, his funeral.
But this week, I’ve been thinking about him, who he was outside the context of the defining events of his life.
The way he called ranch dressing “white ketchup.”
How smooth his head felt when he had no hair.
The way he’d throw himself off the arms of the couches and chairs.
His attempts to carry 15-20 tiny matchbox cars simultaneously, using his hands, arms, and chin.
How much he liked pushing the feed button on the printer to get a few sheets of paper so he could go to the top of the stairs and drop them through the banisters, then run down, gather them up, and repeat the whole activity.
How much he and I looked alike as infants.
The way he’d tell my dad over and over, “Dis da last one” in order to get my dad to toss him up in the air just one more time.
The way his voice sounded when he called me “Woo-ie” (my mom calls me “Louis”).
The way he’d stand at the locked garage door (which led to the playroom) and sing, “OPEN THE GATES AND SEIZE THE DAY” at the top of his lungs so someone would let him out there.

Happy Birthday, Shepard.

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  • Reply Angella April 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I somehow missed this part of your life…

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful boy.

  • Reply Melinda April 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Happy Birthday to your little brother. I'm so sorry for your loss, Janssen.

  • Reply megan April 15, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Love this post, Janssen.

  • Reply Lindsay April 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I've read your posts about him before, and I never knew what to say. This was beautifully written, as I was near tears reading it, thinking about such an innocent, sweet spirit. It's good that you have so many sweet memories of him.

  • Reply Señora H-B April 15, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    What a sweet tribute. Thank you for sharing such personal memories of such an adorable boy.

  • Reply Jess April 15, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Oh, this post is so sweet it made me cry. It sounds like he was an amazing kid.

  • Reply Miriam April 15, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Happy birthday Shepard – we miss you. (I needed a good cry today!)

  • Reply *LaUrA* April 15, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Happy Birthday to that sweet little man. Of course I do not know him but you can tell by looking at that face…he was perfect. I adore his name. What a touching sure tugged at my heart. Happy Birthday!

  • Reply Bean April 15, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Now I have Newsies songs in my head.

    Adorable, sweet boy. My prayers are with you and your family…anniversaries such as these are never easy.

    Also, white ketchup? Awesome.

  • Reply Saskia Tielens April 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Happy birthday, Shepard.

  • Reply The Petersons April 15, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Always making me cry!!!

  • Reply Mad Hadder April 15, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Today is my birthday also. I'm honored to share it with your adored brother. Thanks for the lovely tribute. You portrayed him well. I spend my day every day with 13 year olds–they're "trippy" but very very dear to my heart.

  • Reply Chelsea April 15, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks a lot Janssen! You made me cry! He was such a cute little think and you're right he looked a lot like you when you were little. Happy Birthday Shepard!

  • Reply BrittWilk April 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    very cool post. happy birthday, shepherd. i wish i would have known him. anyone who likes newsies is a great person in my book. 🙂

  • Reply Heather April 15, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Loved the Newsies line. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply ccr in MA April 15, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    I've been thinking about this all day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

  • Reply Becca April 15, 2010 at 11:54 pm


  • Reply heidikins April 16, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Happy Birthday Shepard!

    This is absolutely beautiful.

    Love you darling,

  • Reply kristen April 16, 2010 at 4:19 am

    thanks for sharing janssen. i loved that.

  • Reply Jenny April 16, 2010 at 3:27 pm


  • Reply Peaceful Reader April 16, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    It is wonderful to remember all these attributes of one young amazing boy! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Miri April 18, 2010 at 4:53 am

    Oh my gosh, that last bit you shared (open the gates) is possibly the cutest thing I have ever read. Your little brother is adorable.

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