A letter to my brother on a gloomy anniversary

Dear Bru,

I will have you know that I am purposefully posting photos that you would not have liked posted.  That picture of you wearing the pair of glasses we had to beg Dad only to wear in the barn.  The one where you used your foot to block out my face.  Original.  And the dreaded back attack — notice you aren’t making an effort to hold me on, as this was not a voluntary piggy-back.

I like them better than the beautiful photos Kyle took for your senior year in high school. Looking at them reminds me more of who you really were, behind that smooth smile. As time goes on I think we all have a tendency to focus on your best qualities, but I’m still your sister, so today I am just going to say that you could be a real pain in the derriere.

Remember when Mom and Dad went out of town the summer after your Freshman year and you had one of your “get togethers?”  (Everyone knows you avoided calling it a “party” so when Mom and Dad asked you could say, “No, I didn’t have a party.”)  You made me promise not to say anything, assuring me that you would do all the cleaning. Then you and your friends kept me up all night with the porch door slamming every two minutes when one of the girls had to come up from boozing around the bonfire to use the restroom.  Couldn’t you have been friends with some girl scouts who knew how to squat in the woods with the best of them?

I got a good laugh out of it the next morning when I woke you up bright and early to help me with the horses.  You said you couldn’t clean stalls because the smell of ammonia made you too nauseous.  I remember dragging you into the same stall with me and mercilessly instructing you in the subtleties of wet-spot removal at eight in the morning.

You cursed me for peeling you off the couch when you had only just fallen asleep.  I giggled when you missed the wheelbarrow and a whole pile of manure fell to the ground and rolled in all directions.

And I was happy to have spent that moment with you, even if you were mad, and smelled like beer, and hated me for being your nagging older sister.

Remember that Sunday back in high school when Dad invited us to go to the races and neither of us wanted to go?  I used the classic excuse: homework.  You, on the other hand, mentioned nonchalantly that you had to clip your toenails.  I laughed so hard I thought I couldn’t breathe.

Speaking of Sundays, remember those Sundays when Mom was out of town and you grumbled about going to church with me?  I couldn’t let you forget, no matter how late you had come in the night before.  If your door was locked, I popped it open with a bobby pin and yelled, “are you decent?” from the threshold before barging in and making you get out of bed. I never let you let me go alone to mass.

Thank God for Sundays.  So many of my best memories of you took place in the car on the way to and from church, when it was always just the two of us.  I remember listening to OMC’s one hit, “How Bizarre” on the way home from St. Aloysius.  You paused it after the first verse only to say, “It really is so bizarre that a cop would pull you over — scare the shit out of you — only to ask about the model of your car.”  I had never thought about it before.  I don’t know if I had really listened to the lyrics.  But you’re right! That would be so bizarre, and so awesome.

I remember that sometimes we would bicker all the way to church.  Maybe it was because I woke you up, or maybe it was that I wouldn’t get off your back about your social life, which was none of my business.  But even if we went into church mad at each other, we’d get over it by the Our Father, when you would squeeze my hand until it felt like it would break, and I would dig my nails into yours until you let go.  I miss that.  Now when I’m home and Mom’s out of town I go to mass by myself and sometimes I feel like you are sitting beside me, but I never can feel you squeezing my hand at the Our Father.

Sometimes I’m inanely annoyed that you aren’t here.  I miss you, and I feel that you should be here.  And yes, I feel sad, but sometimes more than anything I just feel angry.  Like when you kept me up all night during one of your get togethers.

That’s when I know that even though I’m alone now, I will always be your sister.  Even though you are gone, I am still on your case.  I miss getting on your nerves, you know.  It’s boring not having anyone to annoy or nitpick.

But you already know that.  Because you’ll always be my brother.

I love you, Bryce.

Bryce Curtis Turner: May 27, 1989 - March 16, 2009

TRADUCTION A LA MELIE:

Lettre à mon frère pour un triste anniversaire

Cher Bru,

Je t’informe que je publie délibérément des photos que tu n’aurais pas voulu que je publie. Cette photo de toi avec les lunettes que nous avons supplié Papa de ne porter qu’à l’écurie. Celle où tu utilise ton pied pour masquer mon visage. Original. Et la redoutable attaque arrière – note que tu ne fais aucun effort pour me soutenir, comme tu ne me portais pas volontairement sur ton dos.

Je les préfère aux superbes photos que Kyle a prises pendant ta dernière année de lycée. Les regarder me rappelle plus qui tu étais vraiment, derrière ce doux sourire. Au fil du temps je pense que nous avons tous tendance à nous concentrer sur tes meilleures qualités, mais je suis toujours ta sœur, alors aujourd’hui je vais juste dire que tu pouvais vraiment être un boulet.

Tu te souviens quand Papa et Maman se sont absentés l’été après ta première année et que tu as organisé une de tes « réunions » ? (Tout le monde sait que tu évitais d’appeler ça une « fête » comme ça quand Papa et Maman te posaient la question, tu pouvais répondre « non je n’ai pas fait de fête »). Tu m’as fait promettre de ne rien dire, m’assurant que tu ferais tout le ménage. Puis tes amis et toi m’avez maintenue éveillée toute nuit en faisant claquer la porte extérieure toutes les deux minutes quand l’une des filles devait arrêter de picoler autour du feu pour utiliser les toilettes. N’aurais-tu pas pu être ami avec des éclaireuses qui savaient s’accroupir dans les bois ?

J’ai bien ri le matin suivant en te réveillant de bonne heure et de bonne humeur pour m’aider avec les chevaux. Tu as déclaré que tu ne pouvais pas nettoyer les boxes parce que l’odeur d’ammoniaque te donnait la nausée. Je me souviens t’avoir traîné de force dans ce même box et t’avoir enseigné sans pitié les subtilités du ramassage de paille humide à huit heures du matin.

Tu m’as maudite pour t’avoir extrait de ton lit alors que tu venais tout juste de t’endormir. J’ai gloussé quand tu as loupé la brouette et que tout un tas de fumier est tombé et s’est éparpillé dans toutes les directions.

Et j’étais heureuse d’avoir passé ce moment avec toi, même si tu étais furieux, que tu sentais la bière et que tu me haïssais d’être ton bourreau de grande sœur.

Tu te rappelles ce dimanche à nouveau au lycée quand Papa nous a proposé de nous emmener aux courses de cheval et que ni toi ni moi n’avions envie d’y aller ? J’ai utilisé l’excuse classique : mes devoirs. Toi, d’un autre côté, tu as déclaré avec nonchalance que tu devais te couper les ongles de pieds. J’ai tellement ri que j’ai cru que j’allais m’étouffer.

En parlant des dimanches, tu te rappelles ces dimanches où Maman était absente et où tu râlais pour m’accompagner à l’église ? Je ne pouvais pas te laisser oublier, peu importe l’heure à laquelle tu étais rentré la veille. Si ta porte était fermée, je la crochetais avec une épingle à cheveux et hurlait « tu es habillé ? » depuis le seuil avant de faire irruption dans la chambre et de te tirer hors du lit. Je ne t’ai jamais laissé me laisser aller seule à la messe.

Merci mon Dieu pour les dimanches. La plupart de mes meilleurs souvenirs de toi sont dans la voiture sur la route ou au retour de l’église, quand nous étions juste toi et moi. Je me souviens que nous écoutions le seul hit d’OMC, « How Bizarre » en revenant de Saint Aloysius. Tu mettais sur pause après le premier couplet juste pour dire « C’est vraiment très bizarre qu’un flic t’arrête – te fiche la trouille de ta vie – juste pour te demander le modèle de ta voiture ». Je n’y avais jamais pensé. Je ne sais pas si j’avais vraiment écouté les paroles. Mais tu avais raison ! Ca serait très bizarre, et terrifiant.

Je me souviens que parfois nous nous chamaillions tout le long de la route. C’était peut être parce que je t’avais réveillé, ou peut être parce que je ne te lâchais pas sur ta vie sociale, ce qui n’était pas mes oignons. Mais même si nous entrions à l’église furieux l’un contre l’autre, nous nous réconcilions sur le Notre Père, quand tu serrais ma main si fort que j’avais l’impression que tu allais la briser, et quand je plantais mes ongles dans la tienne jusqu’à ce que tu lâches. Ça me manque. Maintenant quand je suis à la maison et que Maman est absente je vais toute seule à la messe et j’ai parfois l’impression que tu es assis à côté de moi, mais je ne sens jamais ta main serrer la mienne sur le Notre Père.

Parfois je suis bêtement agacée que tu ne sois pas là. Tu me manques, et j’ai l’impression que tu devrais être là. Et oui, je suis triste, mais parfois plus que tout je suis juste en colère. Comme quand tu m’empêchais de dormir pendant tes « réunions ».

C’est à ce moment là que je réalise que même si je suis seule maintenant, je serai toujours ta sœur. Même si tu es parti, je m’occupe toujours de toi. Ça me manque te faire enrager, tu sais. C’est ennuyeux de n’avoir personne à agacer ou à titiller.

Mais tu sais déjà tout ça. Parce que tu seras toujours mon frère.

Je t’aime, Bryce.

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13 Comments

Filed under Bryce, Home, Kentucky

13 responses to “A letter to my brother on a gloomy anniversary

  1. J. Forsberg Meyer

    Oh, Emily. My heart aches for you, and for your mom and dad, through this sad anniversary. Bryce’s memory will never, ever fade, even on this mortal earth. Thanks for sharing your remembrances, which are all the sweeter for their impishness. Bryce would approve.
    He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  2. maryanita

    You take my breath away Sweetheart. We all miss our Bryce. He does make himself felt, like when I discovered the cd with the letters “Tay” written in his hand. Leaning against the encased, signed soccer ball from his team, was a mysterious cd with his heartfelt message in each of those choosen songs to his secret love! How I had yearned to be included in his feelings those last couple of years. He was very private and I respected that. Now I have a little insight as to what he was thinking and feeling for this special young lady. So far no one has an explanation as to how it came to be in his room…. but I know. I love you!

  3. That was beautiful and encompasses all things siblings related. Thank you. Thoughts and prayers with you today.

  4. So beautiful it hurts… Thinking of you today, Emski.

  5. I’m sure your brother loves this, Emily. These “gloomy anniversaries” are never easy on those of us who still remember our loved ones, but we need to comfort ourselves with the joyful moments.

    I think of my father sometimes, with rather bittersweet sentiments of “if only he were here,” but my life must continue. It is important to experience and live each day on this Earth because life is one of God’s greatest gifts to us.

    I’ll be thinking about you today, my dear. Just keep your chin up! 🙂

    • That means so much, Barb. Thank you. I’ll be thinking of you too — it helps to know we all share such similar suffering. It’s part of what makes us human. If only we humans would recognize our similarities more than our differences. Thanks again for ALWAYS supporting me.

  6. Travis

    Emily, thank you so much for your writing! I don’t read it as often as I’d like, but when I do, I’m always taken back to Kentucky, in Peewee Valley at St. Aloysius, in Simpsonville at OLGA, and along sleepy hollow road between my home(s) in Oldham and yours on the border of Jefferson. I cherish every memory of Bryce, and you sharing yours with us is such a wonderful and healthy way to remember him! You know I miss you and your family, and I’ll remember to pray for all four of you on this day.

  7. JP

    What a spot on recollection of Bryce! Much love goes out to you on this day from my family and myself. The relationship you had with him was unique, and unlike any other. I know that the both of you apprecitated the playful brother/sister banter that carried on over the years… The Lord only knows I sure did! I envy your ability to put so delicately into words all of your fond memories of him. I continue to keep you and your family in my prayers and look forward to the next time we meet, whenever that may be.

  8. Katie

    Emily, thank you so much for having the courage to share this difficult day with us. Your words are beautiful. My thoughts are truely with you and your parents today. You so eloquantly expressed the realtionship between a little brother and a big sister. I too am a big sister and after your reading your blog I was compelled to ring my little brother to tell him how much I love him. You little brother, I know felt the setiments of your blog post from the Hevans and is smiling right back at ya! 🙂 xxx

  9. Sofia Hughes

    Emily ~ That was such a touching and well written account of memories you will always hold close to your heart. It is a hard time of year and I am thinking about you and your mom and dad at this time. Your writing has brought tears to my eyes! I must say that I also had a smile on my face as I can imagine the scenarios taking place with the funny wit that Bryce had and your beautiful smile shining away as you were being the big sister….Keep the memories alive with your beautiful writing ~ ❤ and lots of hugs to you
    Sofia

    • Wow, thank you Sofia! What encouragement. I really appreciate it. I’m sending love your way too, and I hope to see you soon. Your family is so often in my thoughts…even more because of the fun facebook updates. I’m so grateful to know you and to be connected to your artistic family — you inspire me in ways you don’t even realize! ❤

  10. Moma Sandy

    Emily …. you have such a knack for making me laugh and cry spontaneously!?!
    Thank you for sharing a few sweet stories of Bryce that we can all cherish…you are indeed very lucky to have been his BIG sis!
    I luff you~

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