The last birthday we celebrated he turned 15. I don’t remember what we did, or even if we had cake like when we were kids.
Josh was always getting into trouble. Staying out late. Sneaking out late. Being a teenager. Asking his big sister for cigarettes while she did some night swimming in the pool with her college friends. Promising her he wouldn’t tell their mom she was smoking. But he did. It didn’t matter. After all, she was old enough to smoke. She was legal.
Josh always watched out for her. He entertained their younger brother Jake so she could paint because Jake liked to bug her like little brothers do. He always spoke highly of her to his friends, even though he would never tell her how cool he thought she was.
That summer they rode together to Brighton to pick up their brother Bill after his car broke down. They jammed to music, once they could find something the both liked. It was the middle of the night. When they got back, they all sat on the pull-out couch in the living room and watched the movie ‘Powder’. That’s her last memory of all of them together, enjoying each others’ company.
It’s hard for her not to remember the last day she saw him. It was less than a month after his fifteenth birthday. They were on the stairs, passing each other. He was on his way in. She was on her way out. He stopped her and their brother Bill. This time they were going to look at an apartment for Bill to move into. Josh wasn’t coming along. He wanted to apologize for something. She didn’t believe him. The next time they would see him would be at the hospital. But that’s another story.
I don’t remember signing Josh’s birthday card but I know we gave him one. I still have the last birthday card he gave me. It’s sitting on my dresser. It used to be next to a picture of him tickling me while I was trying to pose for a high school homecoming photo. We are laughing. After I moved from Switzerland, I couldn’t find that photo. I miss it.
My brother Josh would have been 28 this year. The same age as my husband. I always wonder what he would have thought of that, marrying a man five years younger than me. Sometimes I imagine them hanging out together, but not for very long because it makes me miss him.
It’s been a long time since we last celebrated a birthday with Josh. It’s been almost as long since I’ve celebrated his birthday with my family. It doesn’t get any easier. I always miss him. This year I thought about my mom a lot. Now that I am a mother myself I can’t imagine what my mom is feeling today.
I had a piece of cheese cake in honor of Josh. It was special because I can’t eat dairy while breastfeeding. I thought about Josh and how he would be glad at my indulgence, just for him.
Happy birthday Josh. I miss you.