Friday, January 26, 2007

When We Were Young

I despise this time of year. It’s after the holidays and things have slowed down dramatically. The girls are usually done with their winter concerts and the days are dreary. This year we had a bit of a respite with the unseasonably warm weather thus proving that global warming cough excuse me, climate change is good for something. Hell, I threw myself into my UFOs with a passion that I haven’t seen in a while. But even this couldn’t completely lift me out of my funk.

Ava and Clark, September 1972

There’s another reason that I hate this time of year: it reminds me of my brother, Clark. He died on January 28, 1973, and hardly a year goes by when I don’t find myself in some sort of emotional funk or another even though it has been decades. It usually doesn’t take much to get me going. Sappy commercial? Here comes that feeling in my throat. Seeing a baby? Yup, that’ll do it. Talking to my mom? Sure to bring it on. Driving home without any thought in my brain? You guessed it.

Sometimes, I imagine what my life would be like had Clark not died. First of all, I would only have one sibling – him. Mom has always been fairly clear about that. Second, I probably would have never moved to Ohio and attended Miami University. This would negate meeting the Flyer and having the girls. Last, I don’t know that I would be happy. Suffice it to say, I have accepted that it happened; it was an accident. Nobody means for a nine-month-old to die . . . it just happens sometimes.

When the girls were little, I didn’t let my guard down with Betty – she is the second child - until she was one day older than Clark was. Surely, I thought, God couldn’t be that cruel, but I wasn’t taking any chances. It is probably the reason that I never wanted a son because I was afraid of what would happen: either he stays or he goes. How would go on if it was that latter?

As hard as it was on me, I know that it was harder for my parents – that much is a given. The fact that they stayed together amazes me every day because I truly don’t know how you bounce back from this kind of tragedy. It was only recently that I realized that it must have been worse for Lola, the other sister, and our brother because Clark is everywhere in our house. There is a picture of him in the family room, Mom passes on the nightlight she used for him, and every baby who is born has an instant comparison to his picture. I couldn’t throw away Clark’s piggy bank I broke years ago. Occasionally I will cut my finger on it when I reach deep into my sock drawer.

Thirty-four years have passed and I think I have finally learned a few things. I have three siblings whom I love dearly. I might not always agree with what the youngest two say or do, but I love them unconditionally. The Flyer and our girls mean the world to me (whether we are agreeing with one another or not). And I generally am a happy person. But sometimes, especially around this time of year, I wonder how much would I barter with the devil just to have a cup of coffee with my brother.

There will be knitting content tomorrow . . . I did throw myself into the UFOs in a tizzy, after all.