Being the youngest of three, my brother was always doing things to make us laugh, or to turn our heads. When my sis and I started dating, in the age before cell phones, we would crowd around our parents’ phone on a Friday night in the kitchen and wait for it to ring.
My brother, even in his pre-teen years, towered over my sister and I and was almost six foot before he was fifteen.
When the phone would ring, Laura and I would leap for it and he would barrel past us easily.
“Uh…she’s not here.”
“She left about an hour ago with some other dude.”
Then he would hang up.
We would be fuming, demanding he tell us who was on the other end
and which of us they were asking out.
He would shrug his shoulders, laugh and head off to his room.
“I’ve got no idea girls. Good luck with that.”
He got his first tattoo before his twentieth birthday.
My mother was horrified that her baby boy had inked himself permanently.
For at least a year, he convinced her as only the baby of the family can, that it was only a henna tattoo and he went every three weeks to have them redone.
She was livid when Laura and I broke it to her that those tats would never be coming off. He finally got her to laugh about it when he told her he was getting her name tattooed on his backside. When she finally realized he had meant he was going to get “your name” tattooed on his butt, she gave up on trying to parent him and just laughed at his joke.
He and I talked about getting tattooed a lot.
He loved it.
I think he believed that his tattoos had to be temporarily painful so he’d permanently
remember all that he had been through.
He also said that Laura and I would never go through with getting
one because we were too big of chickens.
(Actually, I know he said that to me. I think he believed Laura always had the guts.)
After his funeral, Laura and I decided that there was only one way to appropriately remember all the pain that his loss would carry with us for the rest of our lives.
We decided on the Bible verse that we had chosen for his coffin.
Isaiah 46:4 “I have made you. I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
And I insisted that it be in Laura’s handwriting.
His Bible verse.
I think my mom is secretly pissed we marked our bodies.
But I know he is smiling his face off on his cloud as our witness, as we muddle through this race of life without him.
P.S. Laura was a trooper and went first when we got our tats.
I cried like a baby.
Some big sister I turned out to be.
He was right all along.
I miss you precious dude.
I wish we would have gotten inked together, but I’m honored that my first was in ode to you.