I've been thinking a lot about how much you mean to me and our lives together. I remember hot, humid summers playing out back, running and hiding in the woods (you hiding on me, you from me). I remember picking sweet peas and green beans and bright, cherry tomatoes, stuffing ourselves full before dinner thinking that we were getting one up on Mom. Now as a mother I laugh at the thought. I remember how much the bees loved your colorful barrettes and how much you hated them and would run and scream with your arms flailing about in your attempt to elude the painful bee sting.
I remember endless days of bike-riding and kick-the-can with Cindy and Kim. I remember playing hide-and-seek, the surprise of being found and the resulting fall that broke my arm. I remember knocking icicles down from the roof when we were supposed to be bringing in wood. Your toss accidentally nailed me in the forehead (at least I think it was an accident). I remember Mom opening the door to find me screaming, covered in blood. You were screaming too and it took her a few minutes to realize there was actually nothing wrong with you.
I remember climbing trees and driving the old pickup around the nursery. One of us on the pedals and the other steering because we were too short to do both. I remember raking leaves, a chore we made fun by piling them up under the old maple and then jumping into them from the branches above. I remember the igloos built into the banks of snow. I remember countless winters of shoveling the driveway, one particularly sad time when our dog died. Mom, you and me all shoveling in the quiet of the dark snowy night, tears freezing our cheeks. Nothing but the sound of scraping plastic on pavement and our muffled sobs.
I remember us helping Mom bake cookies, every year baking batch after batch for Christmas. I remember family dinners and your hatred and disgust for beef tongue and mine to peas and spinach, basically anything you liked.
I remember roller skating every Friday night. Well, at first we were roller skating, then we were up to no good. I remember Billy Squire and Whitesnake. I remember a lot of partying and doing bad things. Things teenagers have no business doing. I remember your nickname of "Little" and mine of "Little Little" and so proud of it. I remember Blue House and our fake IDs. I remember how you took me to my first concert, Judas Priest and Dokken, having to convince Mom and Dad that it was okay. I remember other concerts too like Van Halen and, of course, Bon Jovi all the way down in New Haven having to drive through a blizzard.
I remember our fights too. "She stepped on MY side of the room!" "She looked in MY side of the mirror!" "She wore My white alligator shirt and spilled mustard on it and now it's ruined!" You always kicked the crap out of me. Smaller but stronger. I remember you knocking my tooth out, lost in the grass denying me a visit from the tooth fairy. But I also remember you kicking the crap out of Cheryl when she came to school to beat me up. When I called scared out of my mind, you drove all the way down from college just to protect me. And protect me you did. It was okay for you to beat me up but no one else was allowed. I'll never forget that kick to her crotch that made her fly up a full six inches. You were my hero that day.
I remember the visits to the hospital to visit Mom. A bond we shared. A bond no one else could understand. A bond forever sealed with her death.
I remember our weddings. You stood up for me and I for you. I remember my first boy's birth and you and Mom doing night duty. I'd feed the baby and then you and Mom would take turns if he wouldn't settle back down. I remember Sam's one and only Snoopy, given to him by you. The Snoopy that he still sleeps with today and has every day since.
I remember vacations together, our families bonding. Cousins playing with cousins. I remember Christmases in Connecticut at Mom and Dad's and summer fun in California. Wine trips to Napa, summer bashes at our house, skiing in Lake Tahoe and, of course, numerous trips to Disney World.
You know how hard these past few months have been. Of course you know. You've answered my calls. You've given me your love, counsel and support. You've been my rock. You've been my lifeline. The depth goes far beyond that which I could measure. But I don't need to measure my love for you - it is infinite. Thank you for being there, for being here for me, always.