For September 30ths

Last year I let the anniversary of my brother’s death slip by with barely a notice. Not because I had forgotten, this being impossible, but because I was busy watching the dynamics of another’s family play out before me, the frustrated eldest son bickering with his younger brother, the way I might have with my own if he had still been alive.

There was a fire beneath a kettle outside in the backyard, the man arguing with his mother while his father watched television, three children running around inside the house and then out again, all of it so impossibly normal in a way that made my heart happy to witness, even if my friend was frustrated on this, the weekend of his birthday.

I wanted him to stop for a moment, to just look at the children running and laughing while the moon shone down on them, for him to feel the end of September air brushing gently through the wooded trees, to watch the warm yellow glow of the bulbs he had hung and the way they shone down on the lawn. I wanted him to stop for a moment, to have his heart feel as full and happy as mine had felt then, watching the children with their joy. I wanted to stop him, to show him what he was missing in this ordinary moment, to remind him how lucky he was, but I didn’t. Instead, I just watched the moon after everyone else had gone to sleep, walked around the kitchen in the quiet house, thought of another moon on another September 30th, the one outside the medical examiner’s office where we went to claim my brother, when we came from impossible dream to terrible reality.

And on this, the eve of another September 30th, I still wish for that man his ordinary family, their frustrated bickering and all, the joy of their completeness, whether he learns to ever see it as gift or not. The broken halves of mine still dream of a man on a motorcycle driving too fast around a curve and that impossibly white moon, always shining down.

This September 30th I will run with my son around a corn maze, yelling when he goes too far ahead. I will watch him pet some animals and beg for another time down the giant slide. He will tell me we don’t have enough pumpkins and I will stop him at 4 out of practicality, because the step to our front door is small and even 4 is pushing it. I will watch him laugh, the way I had last year in the dark beneath the lights strung between the trees. I will find joy in this, my son running, in his dark eyes and dark hair, his small body moving so impossibly fast. I promise to always find joy in this. No matter what the day might otherwise hold.

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