One of the joys of having a child who loves math and problem solving is that he can work out things like the very day on which he has officially outlived his older brother — counting leap years and everything. Today, he tells us, is that day. As of 3.30pm he became the older brother. I don’t know how to get inside that experience with him. But then again I don’t think I should. Some griefs are personal.
So, on this day of passage, I want to write a letter to James.
You were a great younger brother. Malcolm knew how much you wanted to be with him and be like him and be included by him. Although he got aggravated by you following him physically and socially, he was somewhere inside kind of flattered to have a fan. He loved you even while he ganged up against you with TJ; he knew he would always have you. And as he grew older he was so proud of you.
As you get your head and heart around the significance of today, remember that the life you live does not have to somehow be valuable enough to compensate for Malcolm’s death. The only life you have to live is your own; the only expectations you have to live up to are your own. You have nothing to prove to us.
I am sorry Malcolm isn’t there for you, leading the way into adulthood and parenthood. But you are not alone. You have us and you have a big extended family. Stay ever closer to your cousins no matter how far you go geographically. Remember, family is the glue (!) and you can still be “Uncle” James to Beth’s twins.
We love you.