You would be 30 years old today. I wish you had made it. I think 30 is pretty good.
I told you this all the time when you were here, but your birth is the oldest memory I have. I think this is because you joining our family was the first thing I decided was worth remembering forever. When we were little, we were buddies. You let me teach you schoolish things and read aloud to you. As we got older we argued, disagreed, and sharpened each other. As adults we bonded in new ways over my kids and discovered the joy of adult siblings: best friends who know (and share) all your shit.
We are coming up quickly on the 2-year mark since you went on ahead to rest with Jesus. I miss you so much. I wish you could see us all now. I can't say we are better than we were, because we love you so much that your absence is a wound that will never, ever heal. But we are stronger. And the Lord is still with us.
You would be so proud of Momma and Daddy. They bought a new piece of land and built a farm on it just months after you died. It was hard to leave the home we shared with you, but it really was the right thing to do. At the one year anniversary, we had a party in their newly completed house to celebrate Sara and Robin. It had been raining for weeks and it was a muddy mess. The guests had to walk on pieces of plywood just to get to the door. So symbolic of our life at that time, really.
Next week we are going to have the party again. But this year, there is a barn, a chicken tractor, chicks in the brooder, a garden with a fence, 30 blueberry bushes, 20 raspberry bushes, a hen house, eight bee hives and still room to grow. Most amazing of all, there is peace. The whole farm is covered in the kind of peace that holds you where you are, without erasing the feelings you bring to it. The peace at the farm says "It's ok to be sad here. We've done that. It's ok to be joyful here. We've done that too." I don't know how they've done it, but our amazing parents have acted with hope, literally planting it in soggy, muddy, ground, watering it with (so many) tears, and grown good things to sustain us all. It is a wonder to watch.
I wish you could see the kids. Andrew is going to third grade as a reader with a goofy sense of humor. He's planning to build a Cardboard Kingdom this summer with a buddy. You would love that. Anna is about to begin Kindergarten. She literally sparkles with joy where ever she goes, which wouldn't surprise you. Sammy is so much like GrandPapa: a performer, a ham, and a rascal. And so so sweet. They all have pictures of themselves with you in their rooms. Thanks for being such a great Uncle. Even though you weren't here for long, you marked their lives for the better.
Baby Sister will never know you, but I'll tell her about the look on your face when you found out we were planning to adopt her. You were always so excited when we announced we were having a baby. One day about a week after we announced the adoption you were holding Gracie and told me I wanted a baby from China so I could have an Asian Sunrise baby like Sara. Leave it to you to say something inappropriate/affectionate like that.
I can't believe you aren't here. That it's been two years since I've seen you. That I'll live the next 50 years without you. When I see you again I am gonna slug you, I swear.
But like I told Andrew tonight when he was talking about how much he missed you, great grief can only be because of great love, and you loved us so well in all the ways you knew how. We are marked by it forever.
Happy Birthday, little brother. I love you.
Josh and Emily
We hope that by sharing our steps, challenges, and milestones of our adoption, you will see yourself as part of the community we hope to build around our child as she grows up.