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a brother and sister hugging each other

Hey July, Its You Again

Good morning!

Do you ever find yourself lost in your thoughts, devoid of any reality around you? That is where I find myself this morning, coffee in one hand, computer mouse in the other, and the laptop, well on my lap.

This month has always been a mixture of bittersweet for me. Ok, that is not completely accurate. It has been bittersweet for me for the better of the last 3 decades.

Who doesn’t love July, right? Smack dab into summer with all of the things that go along with that: boats on the lake, time with family and friends, floating in pools, fireworks, sitting on the back deck enjoying whatever your view is, and just taking in all that summer has to offer! I love this time of year. It is also my birthday month and when I was younger it was so awesome to have a “summer birthday”! I could go and do with my friends, making memories that rivaled one of my favorite songs, The Summer of 69. As I aged, I still loved having a summer birthday and I still do!

However, many years ago this month changed for me forever. In the summer of ’85, July 19th to be exact. That day, that year and that summer marked the beginning of my bittersweet love affair with July, as this month marks when we lost my oldest brother Daren in a car accident. It is just like the old adage, here one minute and gone the next. It was a blow that brought our family to our knees and changed us in a forever kind of way. It also changed my birthday month in such a way that for as much as I looked forward to it, I also came to dread it. This grey cloud hung over July, forever.

I know that Daren would not want that. He was the kind of guy that lived life to the fullest, gaining every minute from every day. I am thankful for that. I believe he lived to the fullest extent that his 22 years could get him. His life had not been easy. He lost his mother. He lived in a home where he was misunderstood by his new stepmother (our mother) and often, she treated him treated (very) poorly. He eventually went to live on my grandparents’ farm and though he was a handful for them, he found in them a home and love. Do not get me wrong, my dad loved him with his whole heart, and each of us, his younger siblings idolized him. But his story was always a sad one and he would never be one that would be destined for a happy ending. There were bright spots: Connie and his eventual daughter Amanda, though he would never come to know, or even meet her. Again, it seemed his life was always on a trajectory leading to unhappy or tragic ends.

In my heart and my head, I have always told myself that maybe God took him because this would always be his life? He lived in a time where no one could understand his chaotic and hyperactive mind. I believe that he internalized so much from losing his mother and that coupled with what was undoubtedly ADHD set him up for failure, again and again. Randy, Daren’s full-sibling, and our half-sibling (I hate that term and never use it though for clarification I will use it here for you, the readers) was quite possibly the only one to try to understand him. He was the quintessential example of a younger brother, trying to keep up with the older brother and protecting him to the best of his ability. But even Randy could not reach Daren at times.

So, here I sit this July morning knowing that in just 11 days we will once again acknowledge, but never celebrate a day that has lived within our minds and hearts for the better of 35 years. Thirty-six in fact this summer. My heart is always heavy because even though I know that Daren’s life was filled with struggles and that no matter what, he seemed destined for heartache, I cannot help but wonder, what would he be like today? Would we be sitting on a deck somewhere, taking in lake views at an ANDERSON gathering? Would I call him up, just to shoot the shit or discuss the latest news? I imagine I would. I imagine all of us would.

Instead, I sit here this July morning thinking of my brother and all that was, and all that never came to be.

Hey July, it is you again and I am both happy and sad to see you.

Till we meet again big brother…


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