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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

A Birthday and A Request


For many of you, today is Saturday, December 2, just a day in a long sequence of days. For me, it’s a quiet day. One that renders me reflective and thoughtful. It’s a day of remembrance.


It is my brother’s birthday. Alex is no longer with us. He passed away 24 years ago, August 25, 1999. He would have been forty-nine this year. I often wonder who he would be today, in this era, as an adult with a full life of his own, maybe with kids or a wife or some incredible career that he enjoyed. I normally do not post much about my brother or about many personal things but perhaps it is because we are approaching the holidays, and we never put the Christmas tree up until after his birthday; my parents wanting to keep the occasions separate. Maybe it is because I have had a year full of chaos and change, with major upheavals and a health scare of my own that has made me think of death and remembrance and my own time here on this mortal plane, growing shorter by the day. I still remember how quiet the first holiday season was after his death. How surreal our existence seemed to be, how we operated like ships in the night, in a heavy fog, silently slipping past one another in the halls. Blinded by grief, by sorrow, by despair. Burdened by regrets, by anger, by frustration. No answers. No closure. No peace. Just lost in the pain, silent and suffering. I never forgot how quiet our lives became, how things changed around us, how family and friends drifted away, not knowing what to say or how to help us heal. A simple shared memory would have been fine. An old joke he used to tell shared with us again. A story about some childhood antic or two, a treasured kindness he had shown to someone that we never knew. Perhaps, if you’d ask about him, we would have smiled and shared with you memories of our own. Stories of snow parties and sledding down our hill. Memories of his saxophone wailing in the wee hours of Christmas Eve. Moments he spent with friends telling jokes, or at school on the wrestling mat or football field. Maybe, had you asked them, my daughters would have smiled and giggled too, because his memory being shared would have made them happy and erased some of the darkness from their eyes. It’s hard knowing what to do, what to say, how to go back to “normal”, whatever that was. We don’t blame. We understood, eventually, as we went along that grief is hard and often private. We navigated our dark oceans of tears the best we could and over time, we healed. We experienced this same sense of profound loss just a few short years ago when my father passed away.


Between my brother passing and later on, my father, much has changed in life in general as well as my own. I’m not the same person that I was once. Twenty years has a way of changing your perceptions, your emotions, your maturity, and understanding. I learned long ago that kindness matters, maybe more so than anything. Kindness is remembered. Not many people were kind to me as a child, so those rare moments became even more precious.


Along those same lines, I learned how precious love is. To have loved ones around you, friends that become family, family that becomes friends, strangers that turn into friends, then adopted family. I made it a point to start telling people more often that I loved them, that I appreciated them, that I cared they were in my life, and they were valued and welcomed here.


I say this because today is a day that reminds me that I am missing someone that I cannot say those words to any longer. I say this to remind you to be kind to those around you, to tell those closest to you that you love them. That your life is better because of them.


I say this to remind us all as the year ends and the holidays approach, that most of us have lost someone, that we are all grieving for someone whether by heartbreak or by their untimely death. I choose love and kindness to honor those we have lost, to honor the little girl that needed it, to remind myself that I am not the only person that has lost or suffered.


Be kind out there, be compassionate, be the light for someone. It matters.


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2 Comments


jodidunn67
Dec 02, 2023

I am sorry for your losses. Sending light and love to you and your family.

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nuzoonoh62
Dec 02, 2023

Beautiful post, Candace. Beaming you light and blessings today and always.


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