The warm October air tussled my hair as I opened the car door. Stepping out into a crunchy pile of brown and yellow leaves the musky smell of autumn filled my senses. A year ago today I returned to this neighborhood for my walk. Last year it was celebrating my brother’s unique 10/10/10 birthday. This year I was returning to our childhood neighborhood for his 40th birthday. Through death he created a perpetual youthful state of all memories concerning him. They cycle through the end of high school back to my first recollection of him as a child. There are no new adjustments; no retelling of past memories; no reconstructing stories to consider his experiences. There is no communication at all. There is only my failing memory of him. Maybe I return to these spots to try to force the memories to the surface. I think maybe seeing that park bench or street corner will flood me with his face or his laugh. But it doesn’t. I see empty sidewalks that were once our bike trail. I see closed down store fronts that used to be our penny candy destination. I see over grown fields that we once flattened into a path. I see glimpses of a house that we used to share. The streets have all the right names but the sights are all different. It’s all gone on living and growing and changing. I feel very blessed that I had the childhood that I did. I keep all those memories in a very safe place. It’s all I have of him now. My husband has three siblings and I hear them at gatherings laugh through all their memories of childhood and growing up together. It fascinates me yet equally breaks my heart. I would love to have the ability, as adult siblings, to reevaluate a shared childhood. What a gift that would be.
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