23 Years

23 years ago today, my parents lost their beautiful baby boy and the brother I never got to meet.

My mom often says that I was the answer to her prayers – that’s what the name Samantha means. She wanted a healthy child after losing Blake, and thankfully, that’s what she got. But it’s much more than that.

In his time on earth, Blake was very sick. Be that as it may, if you look at photos of him, you will see how much happiness he brought my family; if you ask anyone who held him in their arms, they will make sure you know how special he was. He touched so many lives in the few short months that he was here, and he continues to do so 23 years later.

I like to think that Blake and I had some time together after he left this world and before I got here. I’m often sure that he taught me a few things –  that he prepared me for my crazy family and is part of my sassy spirit each day. Now more than ever I believe that my purpose goes far beyond being a healthy child to my mother. Maybe I was meant to bring back some of the joy and light that Blake was filled with when it was my turn to come into this world. I only hope I can do him justice and that he is here with me every step of the way.

This year more than ever, I feel the loss of my brother. Luckily, I have two big brothers, and I had a happy childhood with Josh as my constant companion. We even get along on the rare occasion these days, and I think that’s a good sign. But nothing and no one can fill the space of a loved one who is no longer there. I never met Blake in this world, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know him. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel him missing in my life. I wish that we could have grown up together. I wish that he were here to join in our family jokes and sibling rivalries. I wish that I could have another sister-in-law and more nieces and nephews in the future. I wish, I wish, I wish. I will never understand why people get sick, or why parents have to lose their children, or why families have continue on as less-than-whole. Nevertheless, even through these questions and losses, Blake is still there. He will always be there. He is my guardian angel, and that is enough for me.

I shared my mother’s story of loving and losing Blake earlier this year in the post, “In my mother’s words.” Today, as I feel the pain of loss from an outsider’s perspective, it is all I can manage to hold back the tears as I think about the incredible amount of strength it took to even write that story – let alone share it and live it every day – as one half of the pair who loved Blake the most.

I am amazed by my parents’ strength and resiliency, but most importantly, their capacity for great love despite all of the hardships they’ve faced in life. I am so lucky to have these qualities demonstrated in my life and running through my veins.

I only hope that I can give my kids the bright future and strong heart that my parents have given me. I hope that Blake will be proud knowing that his little sister grew up okay, and that his family is all still in it together – but always wishing that he were here.

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