Dear Andrew

Dear Andrew,

Happy 30th birthday! This is the 9th birthday we’ve celebrated without you, and, I gotta say, it doesn’t get easier. Especially because I’m older than you’ll ever be now. That’s a really weird thing to think about–I outlived my oldest brother. Every year I write about you on your birthday, but today I felt like writing to you directly. The world is complicated now without you here, parts of it are really, really bad, and parts of it are really amazing. For one thing, we have a lot of suffering and sadness and anger, things I’ve felt in my life, and often about you, but I’ve found out that they don’t often serve me well. There’s also a ton of good. There’s friendship and conversation and learning and growing, another set of things that I learned directly from you.

I still remember sitting in that hospital nine and a half years ago and mom was telling you you could go and I was sitting there listening to you breathe. That was really hard to do. I still remember every single detail about that place and looking at the clock after you died and then the doctor walked in literally 30 seconds later to check on you, but you were gone already. I remember texting my friends “He’s gone” because I didn’t really know what else to say. I didn’t know you in a strict sense of the world because your eyes wouldn’t allow you to see me and you couldn’t have a conversation with me, but I do think I knew you. I know you liked music, and preferred to be wrapped up in a blanket, and I think you genuinely did like the Packers because 1. you’re a Waldkirch and 2. we always made sure the top of your wheelchair had a Packers logo so there was no avoiding it.

One of my best friends also lost his brother recently, I hope you’ll go say hello to him and make him feel happy. Thanks for teaching me how to help my friend. It’s still fresh, but I like to think I lost you, just so I could help someone else. I know it’s not fair, but I have to think there was some good in losing you. I also like to think that you’d like my friends and I would have liked yours. I feel like Dan and I have that now and I think that’s pretty cool.

I’m really sorry that so many people in my life don’t know about you, but I hope you’ll help me find a way to tell people about you. They really ought to, it’s really their loss that they don’t, you were the best. But I still get really, really sad when I think about you. Even now, especially on your birthday, I wish more than anything I could talk to you and hang out with you, but I think I have a ton of other people to meet and people who need to know about you here, so I’m going to keep making sure I’m doing my job here.

So, I really hope you’re having a good day and I really miss you and I want you to be having the best time ever. Because I know you didn’t really have the best time down here and I’m really sorry about that. You deserved better. But hopefully Dan and Mom and Dad and I are making you proud by having fun and doing the things you didn’t get to. I hope you’re proud of me. I love you a lot and thanks for everything.