04:40:55 am on
Thursday 13 Jun 2024

A Missed Birthday
AJ Robinson

He would be seventy-one today. Yeah, August seventh is his birthday. This year remembering my brother, Steve, seems unusually painful, I don't know why. Maybe it has to do with the sort of cosmic alignment of the dates.

It's 2017 and he would have been 71. My mom believes in stuff like that. She says that when your age is a double digit, 11, 22, 33 and so forth, it's an especially lucky year for you. To be honest, I've never seen it, at least in my case.

Today, for some reason I can't fathom, my grief is particularly fierce. I still remember last year, I called my mom to talk. Her voice was strong, but tinged with sadness. Mom and I were able to talk of Steve, laugh and joke about some of his antics, speak of how we missed him and talk about the future.

This year, I know I can't pick up the phone and chat with her. I know with absolute certainty that the moment she answers, I'll completely lose it and I will not cause her that amount of pain. The only thing worse for her, than losing her child, is reminding her of the loss; knowing another of her offspring is in pain.

Various family members have been posting pictures of Steven on their Facebook pages. I get misty-eyed just looking at them. What truly hurts is when the Facebook system reminds me that it's his birthday and asks if I want to post a message on his wall.

It seems Facebook doesn't know he's gone; doesn’t know anyone is gone. I must write to the system managers and ask them about that. My page even did up a little birthday video, put it on my private viewer and asked if I wanted to make it public. The pain of clicking ‘No’ was palpable.

I do want to send him a message. I want to tell him all the things I forgot to tell him before it was too late. Actually, I also want to tell him everything I already told, reinforce the good, forgive his mistakes and apologize for my errors.

No, what I really want is to go back and live our lives over again, only this time be a better brother. I've heard it said that we live our lives forward, but only understand them backwards. I now see the truth of that statement. I remember my dad telling me to value my childhood, enjoy it while it lasted, as it would be over all too soon, and then I’d regret not living it to its fullest.

I sure do!

Perhaps the best way to honor the memory of Steve is to work harder at being a good for the rest of my family. As with so many other aspects of my life, these days, anyway, when I do something like that, I feel him at my elbow. I hear him whispering in my ear.

I also find myself changing how I talk to and engage with my friends and family. Some aspects of that are very hard for me, as I have my Asperger’s to deal with, but when I close my eyes and shut the world out, Steve is there to guide me. That’s when I feel him drawing close, that’s when his voice is the clearest, and that’s when I smile. I’m so glad that I still remember what he sounded like.

All of that eases the pain, but doesn't remove it.


Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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