Watching my boys grow is when I see him the most. At night, when Davey is acting silly or trying to squeeze in that one extra minute of playtime before bed is when I’m most reminded of him. Or the days when Henry is smiling so big and proudly reaching for my necklace, that’s when I know he’s still with me. It’s bittersweet sometimes because I would give anything for to be able to see his face again, to be able to see him watching my boys grow. I see him everyday in both of my boys and I’ve even found myself from time to time slipping and calling Davey by his name.
Nine years ago today, my parents and I sat in a hospital room at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, GA and prayed for what we hoped would be a cure or at least an extension of a life that was being cut much too short. Most people were panicking that day about the fact that they had waited until the last minute to file their taxes. We were panicking because we were unsure if the bone marrow transplant would even take.
A couple of days earlier we sat and listened to the doctor talk about concerns that the leukemia would come out of remission before he got his bone marrow transplant which meant he couldn’t have the transplant. I sat there and looked at my brother, who for the first time since he was first diagnosed with this horrible disease, showed genuine fear in his eyes as he asked, “does this mean I won’t get my transplant?”
Each year when this day comes around, I’m haunted by those words and I think back to the tortured look on my parent’s faces as they stood resolute and told my brother he would get his transplant. I look at my boys and I think about how wonderfully blessed our lives are, but also how quickly they can change in the blink of an eye. In the day to day frustrations of trying to raise a toddler who’s standing firm in the Terrible Twos and a 4 month old who’s eager to start mimicking in his older brother, I often take for granted that I’ll have the next day with my two healthy and happy boys.
My brother did get his bone marrow transplant on April 15th, 2005. By January 3rd of 2007, his leukemia was back and there was no longer any hope of another transplant. We prayed to God on that warm April morning and asked Him for an extension of Brian’s life. He answered our prayers, perhaps not giving us as long as we wanted with Brian, but He did extend his life.
Tonight, as I rocked Henry to sleep, I found my mind drifting off to my brother again and the significance of this day. I saw Brian in the sweet quivering of Henry’s lip, something he does a lot before drifting off to sleep. And before I wrote this blog, I saw the playful, yet mischievous nature of my brother in Davey as he decided he wanted to climb onto the back of the couch and try to walk on it like a tightrope. My brother is everywhere. He’s with me everyday, but I’ve never noticed it as much as when I became a mother to two boys who are mini-me versions of one of the greatest men I’ve ever known.