Yesterday Rin turned 18… I woke up remembering last year:
I woke up with Roo late in the morning. It was going to be a busy day for him meeting with the Marine recruiter and getting paperwork in order for him to formally enlist the following week. I reminded him we would be having cake and ice cream for his sister later that evening and the cake would be ready for him to decorate by about 4ish. One of the birthday traditions in our family has been for brother to decorate sister’s cake and vice versa. This has resulted in some great cakes – Roos’ eleventh birthday cake was filled with Polly Pockets on a fashion catwalk, Rin’s 17th birthday cake was filled with pocket knives and shotgun shells – they became more outlandish with the years.
I have pictures running through my head of Roo getting a kick out of putting his pocket knives blade first all over her cake… she appreciated his humor and the resulting very masculine cake. The year before he had used G.I. Joes to create a battle scene on her cake complete with fresh blackberries from the backyard used as fake blood. He had such an imagination…
Before serving the cake I removed all the “decorations” and set them on a plate to clean off later – I never got to it before the accident and now they are sitting on a windowsill in my bedroom forever covered in icing. I can’t bring myself to clean them off – he touched them and was grinning ear to ear putting them on the cake – he was happy and alive.
Rin is celebrating her 18th birthday in Hawai’i with her best friend. It was so hard for me to send her away all by herself on a plane, but I hope she creates some good memories for this first birthday without her brother. I hope she will learn to be able to look forward to her birthday someday.
How do you teach someone how to be a little sister with no big brother? How do you teach someone how to grieve? I don’t know. Becoming an adult is hard enough, how do you do it with a heart full of grief, regret, and pain from such a huge loss?
This last year was Rin’s senior year of high school and my senior year at University. I went back to earn a Bachelors in Sociology with a minor in Gerontology. It was the most difficult year for everyone. She graduated from a community college dual enrollment program with the high school. I am so proud of her for finishing. I walked, I have five incompletes to finish this summer. I can’t focus to finish my papers. It seems every time I try to concentrate on one of my subjects my mind moves to Roo. I feel like a hypocrite having told Rin how important it is to work on her studies and here I am pretending to study. The courses I need to finish just seem so trivial in comparison to the loss of my Roo.