Birthday Cards Never Sent

…like the 75 billion souls who lived before him, each and every one a treasure, he too, will die.

Ben Sherwood, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

Dear Harry,

Today is your 26th birthday. Is or would have been, I never really know what to say. I’m sitting on my rocking chair looking at photos of us, wondering how this could be the tenth birthday without you here. I’m wondering how on earth I have made it ten years without you, but then I remember, you’ve been by my side all along.

Do you remember when we would play baseball together inside while mom was sleeping? We were always sporting our favorite Red Sox players’ jerseys— Varitek and Ortiz. The living room perfectly mimicked a baseball field, with the sectional hugging the diamond shape. I would stand in front of the fireplace as the batter, with you in the meeting point of the couch at the pitchers’ mound. You’d toss the foam ball to me, smacking it with my oversized hollow bat. My little legs would run to each pillow marking the bases. I giggled and squealed, oblivious to the fact that you had let me win. Those were the good old days.

Do you remember when we would play Soldier together? We’d both put on our matching camouflage pajamas— Nerf guns slung around our shoulders. We would crawl around the house, whispering into our walkie-talkies to take cover before ambushing our imaginary enemy. We always won those battles, but you lost the battle within. I couldn’t save you and I regret it every day. Sometimes I wonder if I joined the military because I was afraid that if I quit playing Soldier, your memory would die with it.

You never got to see me run for the high school track team, but I know you were sitting in those stands to cheer me on. You never got to see me join the Navy, but I know you’ll be with me wherever I venture. You never got to be there for my first heartbreak, but I know you wrapped your arms around me as I cried. There are so many things you never got to see or do, but I know that someway, somehow, you’ll be there. And I know that someway, somehow, I’ll be okay.

Our stories became memories, that of which only I can share now. Thinking of the good old days makes me laugh and shake my head, and a tear might sneak out. I try to live my life in a way that would make you proud to have me as a sister because Lord knows that I was proud to have you as a brother. God must’ve been so generous when he stirred up a soul like yours.

Happy birthday, kiddo.

Love always,

Alex

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