September 12, 2016: I parked the car and stepped out with the book and the flowers in hand. It’s a hot day so the green carnations I’ve bought are starting to wilt. Nevertheless, I start out on to the grass steering clear of the other stones as I make my way to his. I have to catch my breath, like I do every time I come here, as I approach the granite stone etched with his name and a picture of him smiling on my wedding day. The tears start to fall as I wipe the dirt stained water spots off of his picture and my hand comes to rest on his face. More tears fall. I lay the wilted carnations on the corner of the stone and pick up my book. Our book.
I open the cover and read aloud the first line of the dedication “For my brother John, my forever friend.” I continue reading the book, line by line aloud. I know he’s not here listening but here in the cemetery, sitting on the grass in front of his headstone is the only quiet place I feel is devoted only to him. So I keep reading. As I read each line aloud our childhood memories replay in my head. I keep reading. I come to the end of the book no longer able to see through my tears and end… “After all, brothers make the best friends”, and then I say “I love you”. Then silence.
I had to read the book to him. I had to take it there and read it out loud. I could not stop thinking about how I wished he could read it. Wondering if he would be proud of me. Feeling that although the book was published and I had so much support from my family, he was missing. The book is about him too. He should be here.
One year ago today, “Brothers Make the Best Friends” was published. The documentation of cherished memories with my brother is now available for everyone to read. To this day there are mixed emotions surrounding the book. I love it. Truly and deeply love it. I love the way my kids light up when I read it and I love the way they respond to Lydia’s beautiful illustrations. So much joy with the sadness. John and I won’t create new memories, and this is what makes the memories I do have so special.
God was so kind when he gave me the words to this book and I am so grateful for the way it brought healing I didn’t know how much I needed. If you’ve bought my book, thank you. It doesn’t seem like quite enough, but thank you for loving it as much as I do.