February 6th – the happiest day and the most painful day, of my life.
On February 6, 1965, at 3/2 years old, I was happily staying with my grandparents while my mom and dad were at the hospital, getting ready to bring my baby brother home.
Not many people remember the date of their very first memory, but I do. Grandpa was resting, after a long day of work. I was curled up next to him and he was reading to me. It was my favorite Bugs Bunny book, and we were at my favorite part – where Petunia Pig brings a gigantic, chocolate-frosted cake to Bugs’ picnic. But, Grandpa stopped reading and dropped the book. He grabbed his chest and rolled off the bed and onto the floor.
My very first memory, is my Grandpa dying before my very eyes. The memory is foggy – Grandma screaming and a man in blue trying to cover my eyes, but I could see his body being loaded into the ambulance, through the cracks between his fingers.
My second memory, however, is a joyous one. I’m sitting in the big blue chair and my mother placed this wiggly, swaddled thing in my lap. This little blanketed lump looked up at me with glazed eyes and my heart flooded with a longing to protect this fragile little creature. That was the day I fell in love with my little brother, Steve.
My mom kept telling me, “His name is Stephen”, but I was small and having trouble with my S’s, so it came out Weaven – and that’s what he’s been to me ever since.
When Weaven was four, we almost lost him, when he lapsed into a sugar coma, after a chocolate-Easter-Bunny-eating contest with me. That’s how we found out he was a Type 1 Diabetic. I have always felt a since of guilt because that contest was my idea, and all I ever wanted to do, was protect him.
But we didn’t lose Weaven that day. He was a survivor. And although this life dealt him many blows and heartaches, he continued to follow his passion for art and writing – until his dying day.
Last year on this day, I sent Weaven a “Happy Birthday” text and we all met for cake. After we finished singing & blowing out the candles, Weaven became teary eyed. “I really love you guys,” he said.
When we were teenagers, I told my brother about my first two memories being death and birth. His response to me was, “Kimbly (that’s what he called me), that is the yin and yang of life. We would never know how good things are, without the bad to compare it too”.
He went on to tell me that he believed that having witnessed death as my first memory was actually a gift. He said that, because I was surrounded in grief as an infant, after my father was killed by a drunk driver at nine weeks old, and then my first memory was bearing witness to death, I wasn’t cursed at all. “It’s a gift,” he told me. “Because you have seen with your own two eyes how fleeting life is. Let that be the compass you use to steer your way through life.”
I’ve never forgotten the words he gifted me with that day because they are soaked in truth. And although I tend to get caught up in the daily routine of life and forget, as we all do, when I think of my brother, I hear those words echo through my mind and heart and my compass is adjusted. My brother, my “Weaven”, always and forever, my true north.