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tonight’s thought process accompanied by Sia’s “Breathe Me”.

As a Florida native, winter has always been something I’ve eagerly anticipated each fall — until three years ago. One day in late summer or early fall of 2005, I realized we were well past the year’s halfway point and winter would be coming before long. Instead of the usual excitement over thoughts of cold fronts, sweaters and Christmas decorations, an inexplicable gray sense of dread filled the pit of my stomach.

I told a couple of friends about it. One worried that it had something to do with the upcoming birth of her son. No, I told her, this is for my family. Something’s going to happen in my family.

We made it through Christmas and into the new year. Then on Feb. 1, 2006, my little brother was admitted to the hospital with double pneumonia. The next 24 hours brought worsening news as one thing went wrong after another.

By noon the next day he was gone.


I managed a reluctant tolerance of winter during the next two years, mainly out of a sense of duty to Mike. Since having him here for 22 years was far better than losing him was awful, it didn’t seem right to let his loss mar the holidays. It wasn’t the same, and it’s not what I want, but I’ve tolerated it, because there is no other option.


It seems I’ve nearly forgiven winter. I can look forward to the sweaters, the incredibly clear night skies, the feeling of coming into a warm house with a cold nose and fingers.

But the temperatures went into the 40s overnight, our first cold snap of the season. And although today has been chilled and beautiful, all I have been able to think about is the relentless passage of time. Something about the cold triggered a rush of memories from fall and winter days past, and once the slideshow started it went on all day.

I so rarely feel the absence of my brother and my Pop-Pop anymore. It’s one thing to be aware of it; it is quite another to feel it. It hurts to look back in time and realize you can’t go back, to realize one day you may get so old you won’t remember, to realize the memories you made with someone who’s gone are now only your own. And… to wonder if today’s happy moments will one day make you cry.

Aren’t memories supposed to make us happy? Why are these such a source of sadness? Does everyone do this, or is it another one of those things only I seem to do?


Today, my happiest or most powerful moments are shared with my husband or my children. They have no idea how much I love them. My children especially; and I don’t think they will, because I think a mother’s love really only travels one way: down. My job is not to wait until they have children and can understand how much I love them. My job is to do the best job I can right now, so they will know HOW to love their own children.

I am okay with this. It’s the natural order of things. But there is a certain loneliness in knowing that the ones you love most fiercely don’t quite get it, and likely never will.

The thought that one day these times will end — that I will look back on today with this same feeling of empty longing, and wonder if I am the only one who remembers — is unbearable.

Sometimes Ian reminds me so much of Michael.

When he acts goofy.

When he’s sweet and cuddly and affectionate.

But mostly it’s when he locks eyes with me, and his little face relaxes and breaks into an easy, pure, wide-open grin that’s the facial equivalent of a bear hug.

I’m blessed to receive his huge smiles over and over every day, thank God, thank God, but only a precious handful seem to bring me face to face with my brother. And it makes me so happy, and so sad, and so scared all at once.