Saturday, May 25, 2013


Memorial Day is Monday, and I've spent all week trying to figure out what to write. I've started and deleted this post multiple times now, a couple of times trying to just write and let the words come on their own.

That usually works for me--writing has always been cathartic and I've never really had to force it (with the exception of one chapter I skipped over in my story, but that's a bit different). I start writing and the words seem to flow on their own, usually leading me somewhere I didn't even realize I was trying to reach. For some reason, though, I just haven't been able to do that this time.

I guess I'm struggling with just how to put my feelings about Memorial Day into words. That never used to be a problem. Like most people, this holiday used to simply be the start of summer. It was the first long weekend that everyone could spend at the lake, despite the still somewhat chilly water. That was in Arkansas, mind you--the water up here would be a lot more than "somewhat chilly" right now.

Memorial Day became different in 2005, the first time I had a soldier to remember. At the same time, though, even then it didn't become what this holiday is supposed to be--Decoration Day, the day to place flags and flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers.

See, I've only been to Michael's grave twice since the funeral--that's been almost 9 years ago now.

I could go into the reason for that, but that leads to a dark and still extremely painful place. Suffice it to say, it's too hard for me to visit a headstone that says nothing of the remarkable man my brother was. Instead it solely gives him the title of husband, and my relationship with my former sister-in-law is definitely something I'm not going into right now!

Guess it's pretty obvious there are still some open wounds in my life, huh? I hold the tears back and swallow the lump in my throat and push them aside, but they're still there...waiting to be dealt with some day. In true Scarlett O"Hara form, though, I just say, "I can't think about that right now. If I do I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

Since I won't be placing flowers on my brother's grave for Memorial Day, I'll do my remembering another way. Tucked into the pages of our family Bible is a sheet of notebook paper. There's no date, and I don't really remember how much time had passed before I wrote it, but the words on that paper give a tiny glimpse of the relationship I had with my big brother--and why I miss him so much. I'm not a poet by any means, but this is something I want to share with you...

You taught me to be strong
        when others saw me as weak.
You told me I could do anything
        if I set my heart on it.
You showed me how to stand
        when those around me crumble.
You encouraged me to follow my dreams
        even though it may be hard.
You pushed me to do my best
        even if it's not acknowledged.
You led me down the narrow road
        even though it was never popular.
You listened to me
        when no one else would.
You comforted me
        when no one else could.
you were my teacher,
               my confidant,
               my example,
               my encourager,
               my leader.
Because of you,
                           I know how to keep going.

~for my brother.
Mandy Jean

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