Today is Ryan’s birthday. Instead of internalizing my emotions leading up to this day, I have decided to write out my thoughts, to my brother, in an open letter. Part of me still hopes for a miracle, that one day he will be able to read this, while the other part of me knows that will never happen.
You are 28 years old, today, dear brother. It has been eight years since we had last talked. What if this awful sickness never consumed you? What would life have in store for you?
Maybe, a celebration of getting that position you really wanted at work? A promotion, of sorts? I know you would have graduated college, already, and the proof would have been in the form of a picture, on my windowsill. The frame would have been something cheesy mom would have picked out at our hometown pharmacy and given to us, as a Christmas present. It would have said “Our Graduate” with a cartoon-ish picture of a gown and cap. No matter how goofy the frame would have been, I would have never replaced it. I would have kept it just the way it was. You and I would be standing side by side, smiling together, while you proudly held your diploma in one hand and your other would have been around my shoulder…
Would this have been the year of meeting that special someone, in your life? That one person, that you told me, makes you very happy? We would have talked, in length, on the phone all the time, you know. You would have called me to ask for dating advice, and being your big sister, I would have been honest with you. I would have gotten into heated conversations about “the one” that I just didn’t like, or I would have mentioned the “nice one” that you brought over for the latest family game night…
Or, would this have been the year of your wedding? Your Facebook page would have been covered with family and friends congratulating you and sharing pictures of happy memories with smiling faces and arms wrapped around each other. I know I would have screamed for joy after hearing the news. I would have wished you many years of happiness…
Would we have been celebrating a different type of announcement? A baby, perhaps? Oh, how I would have loved to hold your child, Ryan. I would have been there at the hospital, waiting patiently for my niece or nephew to arrive. I would have paced the lobby halls, daydreaming of the many wonderful days to come…
But it is not so, Ryan.
Instead, I walk the halls of the nursing home to come visit you. I watch you as you sleep, in your hospital bed. I hold your hand and talk to you, but receive nothing back in return. Nothing. No graduation pictures, no wedding, no babies…nothing.
If I had you back, Ryan, I know life would have been different. You would be living and not just existing. But it is not different, so I will go on living with you, in my dreams, and think about what would have been.
What could have been.
One thing will always remain the same…I love you, Ryan. Always.
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