Hitting publish is my therapy. I’ve tried screaming into a pillow. I’ve tried talking to my husband. Tried talking to my best friend. I’ve tried crying. But for some odd reason nothing works like hitting publish for me.
This will be scattered. This probably won’t make a lot of sense. But it will let me hit publish.
I felt like an only child growing up. My brother is 6 years older than me, so when I was 12 he was heading off to college in Vermont. One of my fondest memories is a big retreat I went to when I was being confirmed in the Catholic Church and everyone’s families wrote them letters. Josh wrote me a letter. It was everything I needed. It was a letter that meant so much to me that I framed it. I still have it, stained with tears. Much later I watched Joshua transform into a father while holding his newborn son, Kai in the hospital 11 years ago. We started getting a lot closer when he had Kai. I was Kai’s nanny for the first year of his life and developed a bond like no other. Two years later they had Brit and suddenly Kevin and I were spending every weekend on the soccer fields watching the kids play or watching Josh coach Saint Pius High School’s Varsity Team. Then we started hanging out like friends: having dinner, spending the night so we didn’t have to drive back the next day, going to different events together. I finally had this brother and best friend all wrapped up into one. We were spending so much time together that when Kevin and I decided to buy a house it only seemed logical to buy near them since we were already spending every weekend together and driving over for any school events either of the boys were having. So, we bought a house a mile away from them. My favorite thing about our house isn’t the kitchen or the bedroom, but my favorite thing is that it’s an easy mile to walk over to my brothers…especially if you’ve had too much to drink, or the roads are icey but you still want to have a snow day with your boys. Shortly after moving in Kevin was coaching T-Ball with Josh which then became Flag Football. Our weekends were a mix of baseball and soccer for a while and then it was a mix of soccer and lacrosse, and depending on the season there was flag football. We went to as many games as possible no matter the distance, because our hearts were on the ball fields with those kids. We found ourselves rescheduling things so we could be a games to cheer them on. Our favorite weekends were those with tournaments. Even at 39 weeks pregnant with Brooke I was out there cheering Brit on for huge win in a tournament that went to PK’s and Brit saved the day! And when Brooke was exactly 6 days old Kevin was out there coaching a flag football game. I wasn’t upset that he was there because it’s right where he should have been.
I always had this fear that my someday kids wouldn’t have that cousin bond with my brother’s kids because of the age difference. Brit was 7 when I got pregnant the first time and Kai was 9. I figured they wouldn’t have much in common as kids, but maybe they’d have the type of relationship that Josh and I have now that we are older. I found out they were expecting their 3rd four days after my first miscarriage. They had Charley Abigail who is exactly 17 months older than Brooke. Suddenly that fear was gone. Over the last almost 6 months I’ve watched my eldest nephew (11) develop a beautiful relationship with Brooke. He asks about her, instantly takes her from my arms when I see him, and just loves her. I’ve watched my almost 9yr old nephew get down on the floor with Brooke and play with her. And Charley is just taken with her: always trying to give her toys to play with and her binky.
My brother accepted a new job in Florida. He and his family moved three days ago. 8 hours away. I am broken.
I had this concept of what life with kids would be like. The things we’d do, the parties, the weekends, the Holidays. Everything included my brother and his family. We’ve built our lives with them in it. We’ve made traditions and memories. Most weekends have been spent on some sort of ball field, so I’m really not sure what our weekends will look like for the next few years before Brooke plays sports. We had planned on playing Brooke up a year so Kevin and Josh could coach the girls together. I’ll miss going to their house for dinner and a ball game, or watching a movie with the kids. The boys always asked if we’d spend the night. If we were there to watch a sporting event Josh would cook the cuisine of the apposing team and I’d try to either make a native dessert or an app. I’ll miss that a lot. This summer we’ll make pool memories without them, but I’ll never forget the epic cannonball group jump all the Dad’s did that one time. I’ll miss the boys’ end of summer camp performance, as well as all of the school performances we go to. I’ll miss celebrating the kid’s birthdays; I’ve made at least one of them their Birthday cake for the last few years ranging from Kai’s baseball cookie cake, to Brit’s stacked Batman cake, to Charley’s 1st Birthday and smash cake. I’ll miss the pig roast and playing corn hole. I’ll definitely miss Halloween and how we’ve gone to their house and helped spook the trick or treaters for years. I’ll miss Thanksgiving and how Josh never forgets the one-time Dad dropped the turkey on the ground. I’ll miss the yearly tradition of going to the Outlet Malls as a family and Christmas shop. I even went last year when I was super pregnant and having contractions. The kids sit on Santa’s lap and I was so looking forward to Brooke joining them. I’ll miss going over before Christmas and sitting around, having a few drinks, assembling the kid’s toys and helping wrap them. I’ll miss listening to Josh read The Night Before Christmas to all the kids at their annual Christmas party. I’ll miss the annual NYE party, too.
I could go on forever on what I’ll miss because there is SO much, but I guess the biggest one is I’ll miss my brother. I’ll miss my best friend. I’m so selfishly sad and angry. My brother is one of the best people I know. He’s my role model in so many aspects of life. He’s funny, smart, outgoing, gregarious, driven, hardworking, witty, and just down right amazing. He gives fantastic hugs and always knows when something is bothering me. He is a great teacher. I am devastated that Brooke will not know him the way I know the boys. She’ll know him as an Uncle at events, but she won’t have that same relationship with him that I have with Kai and Brit and this breaks me. To me, he’s one of those people you meet and you instantly think, “I need that in my life.” At least that’s how I feel.
Some people might say we don’t have a life, but I couldn’t disagree more. We had it all. We had a life centered around family. My brother’s kids gave me hope and light and happiness when I thought I’d never have my own. Those kids made me never stop trying because I knew how much I love them and I didn’t even birth them. I love those kids as though they are my own. And that’s how it feels. A huge chunk my heart is missing.
I told Kevin how frustrated I am. I’m usually SO good at bottling everything up and choking it back. I am usually a wreck up until something happens but once it’s done I can process it and move on. I’m really struggling with this. It’s a huge change. In the last 6 or 7 years I probably haven’t gone longer than a week without seeing my Bro&co. We will all go on vacation together in a couple of weeks and then my mom, Brooke, and I are driving down at the end of July for a long weekend, but after that, I have no clue when I’ll see them again. And that kills me.
Everything here has a memory attached to it. I sat in the Target lot and cried for 30 minutes yesterday morning, reminiscing on a time where Kai saw me and I didn’t see him and he jumped out and surprised me. We drove past their neighborhood this morning and again, I found myself wiping tears. Our pizza place is their pizza place. Our Kroger is their Kroger. Our park is their park. Everywhere I turn I have a memory with them.
The day we found out they were moving for certain Kevin and I started discussing moving ourselves. Not to Florida, all of Kevin’s family is here, and so are my folks, but to a house we actually like. Now that we don’t have anything keeping us in this immediate area we’re going to move a bit more North. About 20-30 minutes or so. Get out of the heavily taxed area we are in and out of the traffic, and into a new build. Our dream home. After looking at a dozen or so neighborhoods, we think we’ve found the right one and floorplan. We meet with our agent next weekend and start the process of a new build.
Start making new memories.
So, now I’m hoping that hitting publish gives me the therapy I so desperately need.