Tomorrow marks the anniversary of my brother’s death. Since I moved to Los Osos, the cemetery is too far to drive to. It would take five or six hours. And is he really there? Or just his bones?

Last time I visited I tried to give the cemetery office my current contact info, only to find out that my father is the “account holder” and therefore in charge of any changes. A few weeks later, we had an emotional conversation, my dad and I. I learned a surprising thing: we both feel guilty; we both believe we could have changed the outcome — let’s not mince words: saved John’s life — if only we’d done things differently.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today: the minutiae of dying, the emotions that accompany death.

I s’pose I want to say:


You made me laugh. You loved me. I loved (and love) you.

I really enjoyed playing cars with you, and racing snails, and running around like Batman and Robin with our bath towels flying behind us as we leapt off the back of the couch. I loved splashing in the little blue pool with you in Glacier, Montana. I loved being your big sister. (One entire year older!)

I was your personal interpreter, translating your baby language into English for Mom and Dad. Those were the days of peanut butter on toast, matching cabooses (muu-muus), and scary fire ants.

You… are irreplaceable.
I am loving you. Wherever and however you are.

Siblings John & Susie making music
Siblings John & Susie making music

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