Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Might Have Been

Dear JB,

I can't celebrate my oldest son's birthday without thinking of you because it is yours as well. Or was yours-though you left us a week before you turned eighteen. 

You would have been twenty-nine this year and I can't help but imagine how differently life would have been had you not been ripped away

I imagine you would be married by now with a sweet wife, and a few children. I like to picture a little girl with your amazing black curls and shockingly beautiful blue eyes. You would have a career... not just a job. You were always a smart kid. You would have gone to college. You would move away from home-but not too far from your roots... close enough that you could go back and help your parents. You were always respectful and responsible.

Hannah, your oldest sister... well her life would have turned out differently too. She wouldn't have felt the pressure to help parent your baby sister, to be the "husband" that your dad could no longer be. He was so lost by your loss. She did finish college but she never moved on. 

She never got to leave. She never experienced freedom. I'd like to think she would have found a teaching job...maybe moved around a little bit... had some life experiences... traveled. Instead Hannah waits tables in a small town where she is trapped by her responsibility to Aunt Kay and Sadie.

By some miracle your sister Maddie made it out. But maybe too far out. She went to college and has a job. But from what I'm told she left and never looked back. By all appearances she was the least scarred by your death which means she may be in the most pain. Maybe she wouldn't have cut all ties if you were still around.

I don't even know your youngest sister and she didn't really get to know you. She was only three when you died. I wonder if they even talk about you? If she gets to hear stories about you and look through pictures of you. Their pain was so deep, so raw and they shut down. 

She would be 14 now. If you hadn't died, she would have grown up with a family. She would have had two parents and a house full of older siblings to tease her and teach her and protect her. Instead she grew up in a hollow house of pain and sadness. She grew up in isolation and a cloak of fear. She doesn't know her aunts and uncles who live a few miles away or her cousin who teaches at the local school. She doesn't go to school. I'm told she barely speaks.

I don't pretend to understand what went on in your parents' marriage. I just know they never EVER recovered from your death. It broke them beyond repair. I'd like to think that if you hadn't died they would still be together-living in their white house on top of the hill with its peeling paint and collection of old cars and trucks. Your dad was always fixing something up.

I'd like to think your dad would still be alive if you were. He would have taken care of his mind and his body. It would have spared my mom and her sisters the pain of burying another brother. Instead Uncle Lewis died alone in his car two springtimes ago.

When you were ripped away so many lives were ripped apart. 

I wish things had happened differently but they didn't. I will always cherish the memories of you, my sweet, smart, hard working young cousin who was taken way too soon.



NaBloPoMo November 2014


Anonymous said...

Robbie-this is such a heartfelt letter. It's hard not to imagine what might have been, especially when the reality is so sad.

Robbie K said...

Thank you. The reality has only gotten uglier and it is heartbreaking.

Stacie Dalrymple said...

What a horrible tragedy. I'm so sorry. I can feel the pain even all these years later. It's nice to see you back at yeah write!

Vanessa D. said...

I'm sorry your family suffered this terrible loss.

Leila said...

This rendered me speechless for a good long while after reading it. Beautifully written and so tragic. I'm sorry you and your family had to endure this.

Robbie K said...

thank you for all your kind words. I cannot even begin to describe how it felt to be giving birth to my first child on what would have been JB's 18th birthday.

K said...

Oh wow. It's incredible all the lives touched.

Asha Rajan said...

This was a beautiful, sad and loving letter to your cousin. I'm so sorry for your loss, and what might have been.

Alison said...

I am so very sorry for your loss, Robbie.

Jennifer said...

Oh man. This is so devastating. Grief is such a hard, hard thing to survive.

www.icescreammama.com said...

ugh. i'm devastated over here. what a horrible loss and what a tragic aftermath. so sorry.

Robbie K said...

Thank you all. It is unbelievable to witness how one tragedy turned in to many.