Why does five years seem so real all of the sudden? They aren't coming back. The girls are here to stay. We are their forever family, but we'll always be aunt Peg and uncle K since their mom and dad are in heaven.
I have always found the day before the anniversary the worst and today is no different. I had an upset stomach last night and hives. We have a very busy day (M got her new small cast on and lots of sports today) and I'm at the office trying to distract myself...not working too well obviously.
The memories of that day flit in and out of my mind. The befores and afters. Imagined images of what actually happened in the car that day. The weight of sorrow laying heavy on my chest. An almost out of body feeling all day as I walk through the day acting normal on the outside, but reliving that awful day and those following on the inside. I feel an otherness more keenly this week. An anxious feeling that it's going to happen all over again tomorrow. Irrational, but the reality of that day still feels, five years later, so very unreal.
Mike was a funny guy and someone that could capture a room with his laugh and open smile. He loved Jeanne from the moment they met and we could all tell how different he was from her current boyfriend because he was always focused on her and not the rest of us. Mike was handy and generous with his time to help out on a home project. He taught me how to fix a toilet, put up a chair rail, and put in hardwood floors. He loved his girls and made up the funniest nicknames (E was Booger or Boogs and M was Zeke). He gave the best hugs and made us little sisters feel like we were each his favorite. He was my first brother and will be my only big brother. We liked the same music. While he could sometimes be a bit exasperating with his social and political views, he never let it affect our relationship and would shrug off a heated discussion with smile and an offer of a beer (one that he might have brewed himself). Mike was great at barbecue and loved to use his smoker and invite all of us over to share his creations. I miss him. I love him.
Jeanne was a great big sister. Her nickname was Zhea because when she was little she couldn't say her own name--my mom made up the spelling. As a sister, she offered the great balance of tough love and unconditional support. When I was little she was my image of beauty and fashion sense. I wanted her hair, her clothes and her overall sense of style. Growing up, she loved Donny and Marie Osmond and used to tape record (as in the audio) their show yelling at all of us to shut up if we breathed during an episode. She had a crush in 6th grade on the San Diego Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts and he sent her an autographed picture. For the most part, we had an easygoing relationship with her teasing me about my big nose and me teasing about her size without any malice. As adults, she was generous with her time and teaching me those early motherhood lessons about breastfeeding and nap schedules. She loved my husband and boys. She was silly and fun with her girls. The Arthur matching game was her favorite and when playing that game she never let the kids win. She loved Sandra Boynton, the Froggy books and Little House on the Prairie. Those four girls always had the best Christmas and Easter outfits. Her house was beautifully decorated and a comfortable place to be. I miss their house. I miss my sister. I still find it unbelievably shocking and sad that she is gone. I don't think I'll ever feel otherwise. I love her.
Tomorrow we'll have breakfast at a local park and do the balloon release. The kids will run and play with the adults making awkward small talk to avoid thinking about the real reason we are there. I'll hide behind my camera taking family pictures to mark the day. We'll FaceTime E at some point. I'm driving her a balloon down tomorrow afternoon since she has a swim meet and I don't want her alone in this first year away from home.
I'll post the pictures online and repeatedly look at them throughout the day. The smiles will make things a little better as I remember the two that are missing.