31 years ago today, something amazing happened to me. To my family.
My baby brother was born.
I won’t ever forget it: it was the middle of the night, a sea of darkness all around me, and I was sharing a bed with our family friend, Cheryl. She was staying with my sister and me because my parents were – of course – at the hospital. So in the dead of night, my Dad bursts into my room, turns on the lights and hollers, “It’s a BOY! His name is Ian Glenn,” and we were all excited together, and then he says very sternly: “Now go back to sleep,” and turned off the lights.
I was 6 and 3/4’s old, had just been wakened from what was likely about 6 hours of sleep or so, and was told that I didn’t have another sister – I had a brother. Any of you who have children, or spend time with children know there is a dangerous point where if a child is wakened, it will decide that it’s had enough sleep and not return to sleep until passing out in their lunch. Not to mention the added excitement of a new sibling! That was me that night. Once Cheryl tired of my likely endless stream chatter, realizing that I was not likely to go to sleep at any point again that night, and that she had to work in the morning, she did what any (in)sane person would do. She sent me to get in bed with my father.
Those of you who know my father will not be at all surprised to know that in the end, I did in fact go back to sleep.
March 23, 1981 my brother was born. I found out the next day, through my Aunt Donna, that my brother’s name had been changed from the aforementioned “Ian Glenn” to the lasting, sticking name of “Glenn David”.
Today is the 9th time this day has come and gone without calling Glenn to wish him happy birthday. It’s the 9th time that my family has not had a cake to honour him, or a meal of any kind. Sure, we talk about him. In fact, that first time, my parents, Cheryl, my sister my hubby and me all had dinner together in his honour at East Side Mario’s since Glenn loved pasta. So I suppose that year we did have dinner in his honour. Somehow, it was not the same.
Every year on March 23, I start my day by singing the “Happy Birthday” song to him, out loud, choking through the tears. Those tears got thicker and more prolific the year I was pregnant with my first child. I always cry because of what I miss with him gone – experiences, conversations and the like. That year (and every year since, in fact) I was crying for that, but also because I have absolutely no idea how my parents cope. How do you move on from the death of a child? As my Mom would say, “You do it one step at a time. And when that’s too much, you do it one breath at a time.”
With a heart full of gratitude for the 21 years, 1 month and 25 days we had with you Glenn, I wish you a happy birthday. You may be gone from this life, but remain forever in our hearts. I love you and miss you, Chum.