Twenty Nine

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, 
even when the people in it do.”  - Andy Warhol

Birthday’s were the best when you were a kid, not just another mile marker in the passing of time like they are today, but a real celebration. I mean seriously, what ever happened to party hats?! A goal of sorts, one step closer to being “big” and “grown up”. Obviously MY birthday was (read: still is) my favorite, but Dustin’s was always pretty awesome too. It was kind of like the spring board into the official summer. June 15th. School was out, the days were just starting to get hot. It was the first outdoor party of the season, nothing but twelve hour days of fort building, dirt digging, camping and the river ahead! Good times. Joy was abundant. 
I take myself here, every year, and for a few moments the weight of being big and grown up is lifted. I can feel the paint of the picnic table, warm and sticky from the sun, beneath my legs. The air smelling sweetly of fresh cut grass and sugar, the cake heavy in my hands. Clearly, I can hear the sounds of wrapping paper and innocent laughter. My insides are alive with excitement...this is such a big deal, a first birthday! My heart swells and I feel joy. It’s real. For a moment, I am truly present, in the past. 
Seventeen. The number of times we got to start the summer off with a party, carrying with us only wishful anticipation of what the next few months would bring. Summer’s are different now, the loads are heavier. The memories, feel heavier. I still celebrate, just differently. I lay down everything inside of me that’s ugly and angry and hurt, and I am grateful. Grateful to have been blessed with such an amazing little brother and for the lifetime of memories that I hold so sacred in my heart. No hate or anger, not on this day. On this day, I celebrate. I celebrate a life that brought much love and joy into this world, especially mine.  
Twelve. The number of times I’ve circled the sun, to return here, to this day, to this photo, to this moment. It’s with arms wide open, speaking in exclamations that I celebrate his life, and all he brought to mine. So, with all the courage and faith I can gather...I am grateful.
Until the otherside, Dustin, all my love...