October is such a mixed bag of emotions for me.
Sarah and Briana both have birthdays in the middle of the month, so it's a happy time in our family. The temperatures start to cool off, football is in full swing, and I'm thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas, looking forward to the holiday season.
But there are two days in October that I now dread. October 6th is my brother's birthday. I say "is" with meaning, because of October 22nd, the date two years ago when he was taken from us much too soon. I can't bring myself to say "was." (I still talk about my Daddy and my grandparents' birthdays in present tense. They're not gone from us, just gone from this world.)
So I plan around it. I know that I need to stay busy while I'm at work those days, and try to keep my mind occupied with as many other important and urgent things as I can, so I don't walk around in tears all day. I know that I need to find something at home to occupy my time as much as possible, so I put off the inevitable come-apart as long as I can.
And I try to keep those happy times as close to the front of my mind as I can. I remember riding bikes in circles around the yard. I remember mowing grass and taking turns on the riding lawnmower (and getting stuck with the push mower on the hills.) I remember picking blackberries from the bushes near the edge of the woods, and digging a giant hole next to Daddy's workshop for our adventures. I remember the tree house Daddy built, and how we pulled the cats up in buckets because "cats like to climb, right?"
Or sitting in the back of the car on our rides "around the block" or "to town" for lunch on Sunday. I remember when we were teenagers and at each others' throats, because a brother and sister that close in age are probably incapable of anything BUT that as teenagers. And I remember the change that happened as we grew up, and how I would call him when I needed an objective opinion, or when there was something only he would understand.
It makes me sad for all the years we will miss together here. I'm comforted in knowing I'll see him again one day, and laugh thinking about how he's probably up there grinning like a Cheshire cat because he got to find out the answers before I did. He'll probably meet me there and bust out with this list of stuff he knows before my second foot hits the inside of the Pearly Gates.
But what I can do is keep his memory, and memories of my Daddy and all those other family members, alive here. I can talk about them, laugh about them, and tell my daughter, so that she can remember them and hopefully pass them on to her kids one day.
Until then, I'll be enjoying what passes for fall in Houston, with a nice stiff drink from time to time, and a well-placed come-apart as far from the proverbial maddening crowds as I can manage.