It’s a little after 6 a.m. Sophie just came into the living room, rubbing her eyes and telling me with a froggy little voice about the bad dream she had. (A baker killed her and dipped her in chocolate and she never, ever, got to see me again.) She really shouldn’t be up just yet, but she’s not interested in going back to bed so while I’m up getting coffee I toss her a leopard print blanket and she curls up under it on the couch, asking for a movie.
I’m crouching down in front of the tv, looking through the drawers of DVDs for Shrek the Third, when I realize that today is my brother’s birthday. My little brother, who is somehow turning 35.
Maybe because it’s so early, or maybe because I’m still not getting enough blood to my brain, I’m hit with a memory that totally envelops me: J and I are little kids, in the living room of our old apartment in Texas. I can see the layout of the room perfectly, the Three Stooges in black and white on the TV, and J, curled up and petting the sky blue satin trim on what’s left of his blue blankie. J and I used to get up early on the weekends, before our parents, and turn on the TV. I was only six or so, but I’d make us cinnamon toast or instant oatmeal, and we’d get all set up on the coffee table, facing each other and having to look to the side to watch our shows. I remember my dad running out of the bedroom one of those times; the time that I got too caught up in Larry, Curly, and Moe (and Schemp!) and forgot the cinnamon toast and smoke poured out of the oven while the alarm beeped.
I’m lucky. My brother is one of my very best friends, and I *love* his wife. I even forgive them for moving to another state, and for the times that I started crying in the middle of Trader Joe’s because I thought I saw him across the store and realized just as I was going over to hug him or punch him in the arm that it couldn’t be him, that he’s somewhere else now.
Happy Birthday, J. I love you. You’re a kick-ass uncle, an amazing man, an incredible friend, and the most patient free tech support on the planet.