Even today, 5 years and 3 months after he took his last breath, I am shocked when someone I meet or who didn’t know me back then doesn’t know who Brendon was. I know logically that of course they don’t know unless I have told them the story, but still…it is jarring to my heart. Brendon is my nephew. At the tender age of three he was diagnosed with brain cancer, and after a long brave battle, lost his fight at the age of five… three months before turning six and before he was able to start his first day of kindergarten.
Everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was simply crazy about that kid. He was a joy to be around, even during chemo and radiation treatments. I just adored him. My daughter considered him her best friend and simply loved him with her whole heart. Everyone in his life was over-the-moon for this incredible kid. He was funny and smart and kind and … there are too many words to describe him.
Yet, even after all these years, I have that desperate feeling that there will never be enough words spoken or written about him. I feel a need to scream his story from the rooftops so that everyone in the world will never forget him, will hug their kids tighter every single day, will never let a day pass without sharing how you feel with those most important in your life.
We have pictures all around our house of Brendon and we try to talk to Emma (our 21 month old) about him. We point to the pictures and ask her to press her tiny little finger to the face that belongs to his name. She doesn’t get it. She doesn’t have a person to put with the face, like with the other pictures hanging around our home. She will hear stories as she gets older and she will see pictures and she will understand why we put up a separate Christmas tree for him every single year… but she won’t know him.
It breaks my heart.
There are some days when I can look at his picture and just smile. There are other days, like today when it crushes me. The weight of losing him feels like a million pounds that I just need to carry. I hear the song “Beam Me Up” sung by Pink… and I sob. A Christmas carol plays and a flood of memories come back to me and I don’t think I can breathe.
As much as I loved and adored him… as much as grieve for him… I don’t even pretend to understand what my sister, his mother, must be feeling. We all hate the “I just don’t know how you do it” comment from someone who has not been in our military spouse shoes… so I won’t do that to her my saying the same thing. I imagine she does it because she just does. She loves her little boy. She is doing the best she can to get through each day. She knows she must keep on for her other children. She just does. Because she loves him. Period.
This time of year can be really tough for some folks. When you have suffered a loss the joy you may see around you can be a hard pill to swallow. I know that is the case in my life. We just try to remember the good, allow ourselves the time to cry and scream when needed, and keep telling that baby about this amazing, incredible kid who is her cousin.
I don’t have a faith that carries me through from day to day. I have struggled with my faith, what it all means, since Brendon passed. But when I think of him I have to think of him in a place like heaven; I have to be able to look up at the sky and think that he is up there watching us. That he knows how much we love him and that we will never forget him.
So today I am sending birthday wishes to heaven to you, Brendon. We love you. We miss you. You are always here in our hearts.