Today, May 23, is one of those days on the calendar that I wish no longer exists. What used to be a joyous day, full of cake, candles and presents is now full of just memories. No new memories will be made, however. No new memories have been made on this day since 2005. It was on that day that I gave him the necklace that I so carefully wear. It was on that day that he was no longer self-reliant on his walker. It was on that day he turned 18.
What seems like ages ago is just still so fresh. The Angel Foundation gave the entire family a gift card to Cagle's and we pigged out on steak. Especially Jacob, who regained his appetite at the right time. Jacob's nurses and doctors gave him a gift card to Best Buy so he could buy a radio for his truck. Not one of the cheap ones, mind you, but a real fancy one that I covet to this day.
This is where my memory ends. I cannot for the life of me remember what we did after we ate dinner. Did we go see a movie? Probably not; Jacob could not sit still long enough. Was there dessert involved? Most definitely, I am sure. Did we all just go back to Anton? Probably, since Jacob had not much strength left. I'm sure the evening wore him out.
A few days later he graduated, and a few days after that he died. I still hate myself for not giving him his present that night. He went to sleep early and I had a present for him that I had left in my car. By the time I remembered I had it, it was too late to give it to him. I laid it on his couch, wanting it to be a surprise for him in the morning when he woke up. He never woke up. He never saw it. He never used it.
I would like to think that if he knew he had a present coming he would have hung on for one more day. One more night. One more week...month...year. I am glad he died peacefully at home, in the comforts of his bed, instead of connected to wires and tubes.
I miss him everyday. Someone walks past me wearing his cologne and triggers a new memory. Someone yells out "Jacob" and I automatically turn my head, expecting to see him just walking toward me with outstretched arms, ready to embrace me in a hug. I saw someone the other day that I had not seen in years. She asked how the family was, and when I did not mention Jacob, she asked how he was. It took everything that I had to control myself as I told this person my brother had died a few years back. I had my hands in my pocket and I was just pinching myself, so the tears would not flow. I bit my tongue. I looked at the floor as she began crying and embracing me in a hug with the obligatory "I'm sorry." As she walked away a single tear began to fall, but I needed to be strong in that moment. I needed to be strong for him. There are times when I weep so hard that I literally pass out. There are times when a single tear will fall and I am done. There are times that I remember some hilarious thing Jacob did and I burst out laughing, often times followed by tears. Tears of joy and happiness.
However much pain I still have, I know that he is pain free. He is with my God in Heaven, looking down on me as I become a woman totally devoted to Christ. I have learned so much from Jacob's death, and from him in general. I have matured beyond means, and that is only because of Jacob. My spirituality has been awaken and my journey with God is in no way stagnant. Each day is truly a gift from God, and I have learned to cherish each day. I am now fully awake and ready ready to live the life God, and Jacob, have set me out for.
My dear sweet brother: I love you. Much like the Mad Hater says, Happy un-birthday to you.