I don’t remember much, but that’s what I remember the most. His smile. Warm, friendly.
He was twice my age when he passed in those few days after Christmas.
Little things still trigger memories.
…My excitement over receiving the BandAid album “Do They Know It’s Christmas” (such a sign of the times in the 80s) was tempered by the events of the days to follow. Whenever I hear the song, I pause, and am instantly transported back to a cold January morning in 1985.
…It was a long time before I was brave enough to drive or even ride through that tunnel.
I remember his laughter and love of family.
His athleticism. His love of baseball. His kindness.
When I was 13 or so. Walking home from school. On Florence Street, near the park. He pulled over and said ‘hop in!’ and he drove me home.
When he and another cousin painted our house. Tall ladders to reach the highest points of our duplex. White paint on their jeans and baseball caps.
And then, nervously climbing the stairs with his mother to visit his room a few months after his passing.
A small bottle of Brut cologne still on the dresser. The heartache was released slightly in a bittersweet moment as we laughed at the incredible smallness of the room.
No bigger than a closet! Or so it seemed. Somehow wedged between the peaks of their Victorian home. Even I had to duck my head.
I remember seeing the pain in his sisters’ eyes.
Receiving a comforting hug from one. Feeling inspired by the poem written by another.
I remember the face of his mother, on whose birthday this tragic event unfolded. Her pain, unimaginable.
I remember the strength and resilience of a family that carried on in spite of their enormous loss. Weddings and babies and anniversaries and family Christmas parties and celebrations.
His absence, undeniable. His presence, palpable.
I remember lots of things. And not much at all.
But mostly, I remember his smile.